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What To Look For In A Shampoo | What Ingredients To Avoid

Do you know what ingredients to avoid in shampoo and how to spot the bad ingredients in shampoo before buying it?

What To Look For In A Shampoo what ingredients to avoid

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If you are suffering from hair loss, skin irritation, allergies, rosacea or eczema you might need to pay attentions to your shampoo’s ingredients. There are more ingredients that you need to avoid in shampoos than you even realize.

Know The Ingredients To Avoid In Shampoo

If you ever tried reading the label on your shampoo bottle, you might feel like you’re reading a foreign language, sometimes the list of ingredients is so long that you don’t even bother to read it.

You simply assume that if it’s sold in the store it is verified and safe. In reality many ingredients in your shampoo are linked to cancer, asthma, neurological problems, skin irritation and other health problems, and you don’t even know it.

Did you know that more than half of what you put on your skin (the largest organ) absorbs into your body – synthetic foaming agents, parabens and other chemicals end up running through your veins. Some of the chemicals are really harmful and are allowed in shampoos because there’s only small amount  in one bottle, but what about long term use ?

How To Read The Label Of Your Shampoo

Natural and Organic Shampoos Are Not The Same

Don’t be fooled by those products that advertise as “all-natural” or “100% natural.” “Natural” doesn’t necessarily mean organic or safe. There is no federal regulation for the word natural. The processing of a natural product can involve the addition of chemicals to break it down to a usable formula. 

Natural can mean the product was derived from a natural source, while the term organic means that the plant was grown without the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides, however just because some organic products were used, doesn’t mean the entire product is organic.

Made with Organic Ingredients

According to the National Sanitation Foundation site, products with at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” on their label and can have NSF certification. Products with less than 70% organic ingredients must list them on the label, and can’t have a USDA organic label on the product. USDA organic certification means that 95% of the ingredients are organic.

Ingredients To Avoid In Shampoo:

  • Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride – functions as a preservative, antimicrobial and surfactant – associated with severe skin, eye, respiratory irritation and allergies.
  • Parabens – used as preservatives for their antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. They have been found in low concentrations in tumors and are believed to disrupt hormone function. They are even used in baby shampoos.
  • Artificial Fragrances – a major cause of allergic reactions, contain chemicals protected as a trade secret, the full ingredients do not have to be listed on the label.
  • Sulfates – Sodium laurel (SLS), sodium laureth (SLES), and ammonia laureth (ALS) -detergent and a surfactant often contaminated with carcinogenic 1-4, dioxane and since it’s a byproduct, it won’t be listed. Sulfates are used because they lather well. Because huge bubbles fells great they aren’t really necessary for clean hair.
  • Propylene Glycol – is used in anti-freeze for your car radiator, you can also find it in moisturizers, hand sanitizers, baby products, conditioners, and shampoos. It is linked to liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
  • Retinyl Palmitate – a synthetic form of palm oil.
  • DEA or Diethanolamine – a wetting agent used to create a rich lather that many consumers like in their shampoo. DEA reacting with other chemicals in the shampoo can create an extremely potent carcinogen called NDEA which is easily absorbed through the skin and is linked with bladder, esophagus, liver and stomach cancer.
  • Triethanolamine (TEA) – a detergent restricted in Europe because of possible carcinogenic effects.

Example of bad ingredients in shampoo:

shampoo label ingredients to avoid

Known Shampoo Brands To Avoid

  • Nexxus
  • L’oreal
  • Garnier
  • Tresemme
  • Aveeno
  • Pantene
  • Dove
  • Suave
  • OGX
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Johnson’s
  • Aussie
  • Herbal Essences
  • Hask

For more information on the safety of body care products consult the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

The thing is, even if they say that the ingredients were tested and safe in small amounts, nobody tested the effects of long term use on a regular basis.

What Ingredients To Look For Instead

Shampoos with 95% organic ingredients or more, on the other hand, contain gentle cleansing agents, natural oils, plant extracts, vitamins, keratin, and proteins also scented with organic essential oils.

While natural shampoos will not lather like commercial shampoos, they still clean your hair just as much as chemical-based shampoos and they have more beneficial effects in the long run.

What Ingredients To Avoid in a shampoo

Example of Good Ingredients In Shampoos

  • Essential Oils
  • Oils like cactus oil coconut oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, camelina seed oil, grape seed oil,
  • Herbal extracts (nettles, dandelion, horsetail, nettles, sage, and peppermint. green tea, rosemary, neem, calendula, chamomile etc)
  • seaweed collagen
  • Aloe vera
  • Biotin
  • Honey
  • Shea butter

Some people even make their own shampoos, as ingredients more often are used: castile soap, honey, jojoba and argan oil, aloe vera, dried herbs, coconut oil and milk, baking soda, apple cider vinegar and distilled water. Essential oils are added for fragrance and for their herbal benefits. As a natural preservative is used rosemary extract or grapefruit seed extract.

Of course if you’re not into DIY method then you should pay for your convenience as really natural shampoos are not cheap and come in small bottles. I tried many brands as I wanted to find the best that suits me and I have a couple of favorites.

Best Non-Toxic Natural Shampoos

1) Carina Organics (Vegan 100% Biodegradable, Hypoallergenic, Paraben, Soy, and Gluten Free

2) Christina Moss Naturals (For Dry Hair & Scalp – Oily, Curly Or Fine Hair)

3) Clevos Natura Foresta (for Dry, Sensitive, Itchy Scalp Type)

4) Acure Vivacious Volume Shampoo (Vegan, gluten free, Paraben free, sulfate free, silicone free, Color safe)

Some of them have ridiculously high price like John Masters Shampoo which is $125 for 35 fl oz.

Luckily, natural and organic shampoos have come a long way, and the latest formulas cater to all hair types: from dry curls to oily, dyed, and even thinning hair, so I hope you find the one that suits you!

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Sunday 14th of April 2019

I avoid sulfate, it always gives my scalp a reaction. Glad companies like Maple Holistics make sulfate free shampoo.