I don’t know about you, but when I am at the store looking for a new hair product, I attempt to read the ingredient list so I am aware of what I am putting in my hair. If you’re like me, this is a futile exercise and you simply end up cross eyed in the aisle at the beauty supply store. It can be hard to tell what’s good for our curly tresses and what products I should throw back on the shelf. Here’s a list of chemicals (via trialsntresses.com) that are often in our hair products and are probably doing more harm than good.
Why are they bad?
Most of these chemicals are carcinogenic and serve no positive purpose in your hair regimen. If you find them in your hair products (most commercial lines) then you may want to consider chucking them into the garbage can and getting your hands on something a little more natural/organic (doesn’t necessarily have to be more expensive keep that in mind!)
SN- The ingredients are generally listed in order of % used on the label. So if any of these products are the first few items in the ingredient list, run!!
1. ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL: This ingredient has the full blown potential to dry your hair out and break it off! This ingredient can be found in hand lotion, cosmetics, and hair color rinses. Our natural hair does not interact with this ingredient very well. This ingredient can also cause dizziness, depression, headaches, and nausea if inhaled directly. Definitely crossing this off of my list of ingredients I allow/turn a blind eye to. If you see Isopropyl alcohol in your ingredient list toss it (especially if it is listed in the top 10 ingredients on the list)
2. MINERAL OIL & PETROLATUM: Mineral Oil & Petrolatum are found in hair products frequently. Especially in older hair care times when we focused mostly on grease and pomades to grease the scalp frequently. A better moisturizing/sealing alternative is the use of essential/carrier oils instead of these mineral oils that weigh the hair down and prevent natural oils from being produced and absorbed in the hair. Petrolatum is a grease with the same mineral oil properties and should also be avoided.
3. Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl) — We’ve been hearing about avoiding parabens since the dawn of the natural hair boom a few years ago. But why? They are used frequently in just about every beauty product in the market because they help increase the shelf life of your products. But the reality is parabens have chemicals that may lead to cancer. There hasn’t been enough proof to state this for sure but it is something to keep in mind when using products that contain this ingredient in all its forms.
4. PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG): I worry when products that are used for other non human related things are used in a hair product or ingredient that has to come in contact with my skin. This is one of them. PG is used as the main ingredient in antifreeze (WHOA!) People who work with PG are told to wear gloves since it easily penetrates the skin, however we apply this humectant to our bodies quite frequently (deodorant, makeup, toothpaste, hair care products…etc) without any form of protection. This chemical is stated to cause dry skin, dermatitis, hives, eczema, and other allergic reactions.
5. SODIUM LAURYL SUFATE (SLS) & SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES): Uhh.. we know why we shouldn’t be using this and we know where to find it. This product is a detergent used in most shampoos and foaming properties. SLS strips your hair of natural oils and leave it dry and brittle. Because they are a cheap ingredient they are used in most personal care products and is used in testing labs as the standard to irritate skin. If you use shampoo with SLS there is a possibility that it may be absorbed into the body which is not a good thing at all. Too much presence of nitrates can become toxic in the body. This ingredient can stay in your body for up to five days, and it may be damaging to the immune system especially in through your skin. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)– SLES is the alcohol form (ethoxylated) of SLS. It is slightly less irritating than SLS, but may be more drying. Both ingredients can be absorbed into the blood stream through the sin.
6. Formaldehyde: This is a difficult one for me because of my love for nail polish but formaldehyde is a definite negative in your hair care products. This cheap preservative is used in hair care products containing water to prevent the growth of bacteria. That sounds like a good thing however, Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen and may cause skin reactions, trigger heart palpitations, or lead to joint pain, allergies, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, and dizziness. The scary part, this ingredient doesn’t even need to be listed! Yikes! Look for products that say Formaldehyde free instead just to be on the safe side!
7. DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (momoethnanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine): DEA and MEA are hormone disrupting chemicals that are usually listed with the compound being neutralized. Most beauty products contain this like bubble baths, body washes, facial cleansers, and soap. These ingredients if absorbed into the skin frequently can lead to liver and kidney cancer. They also lead to dry hair and skin. Which is why they are a big no no for your hair care regimen. Even natural products use DEA and MEA on occasion which is why it is still important to read the label of a “natural” or “organic” product!
8. Synthetic Fragrances — This can be difficult to avoid which is why I’ve started using more LUSH products (which can still contain synthetic fragrances from time to time 🙁 ) Most products contain synthetic fragrances to give us that great smelling product. The scary part is if a product is labeled “fragrance” that fragrance can have up to 4000 separate ingredients to come to that one scent! (What!) Unscented products are best (though you may miss the smell) but you can always change the scent by adding your own oils into the mix! This way you know exactly what is going on to your skin and hair.
9 Synthetic Colors — Ugh… another annoying one to keep in mind and it is EVERYWHERE! Artificial colors are used widely in hair care products but also in the products we eat as well. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing the color with a number beind (Yup Red 5 is a synthetic color) These colors may cause skin irritation and be a possible carcinogen if it contains coal tar which is a whole other evil in itself.
10. IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA and DMDM HYDANTOIN: More formaldehyde I’m afraid! These ingredients actually release formaldehyde (how annoying!) They can cause irritation to the respiratory system and create heart palpitations ! (Your hair care ingredients can actually cause major discomfort).
So basically, go to your grocery store and start making your shampoos and conditioners from now on! LOL! Seriously, it is important to understand what some of these ingredients are. Even if you don’t completely stay away from them, at least it can help you make informed decisions and what you use and how frequently you use it. Some things are VERY HARD to avoid, but a little education goes a long way!