You’ve probably heard that some shampoos and conditioners contain potentially harmful ingredients, but you’ve yet to actually experience any obvious negative symptoms. Besides, there are so many products with these ingredients in them on the shelves, surely they can’t be THAT bad, right? Wrong! Listed below are just seven of the harmful ingredients found in at least one (if not all) of the hair products most likely sitting in your shower at home right now.
If you ever needed a reason to go ‘natural’, here are seven:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
This is probably the one name you will recognise from the list of ingredients on the back of the bottle. SLS is the ingredient that makes the shampoo lather like you see in the TV adverts. And who doesn’t like a good lather to make you ‘feel’ like your hair is getting a good clean? Well firstly, SLS is found in many cleaning products because it acts as a degreaser. In the same way, in shampoo it strips your hair of the essential oils it needs to stay healthy, severely drying it in the process. It is also a known skin irritant and a proven carcinogen. In short, avoid, avoid, avoid.
Silicones don’t actually pose any health risk to you and they coat the hair shaft, giving the appearance of smooth, shiny hair. So why avoid? In a nutshell, silicones have zero nutritional value and the shiny locks are short-lived, because with continued used, silicones cause a build-up on the hair, making it heavy and greasy. There are two types of silicones; soluble and non-soluble. The former (water based silicones) are preferred over non-soluble silicones as they can be removed with water, whereas non-soluble silicones require the help of sulfates in order to remove build-up and the paragraph above explains why these should be avoided. So if you absolutely have to have a silicone-based product, go for the water-based variety.
A lubricant in shampoos, and more commonly known for making plastics flexible, phthalates have been linked to a growing list of risk-factors. According to theguardian.com, “in the past few years, researchers have linked phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioural issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.” That’s quite a list. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to avoid phthalates completely as they could be found in any part of a production cycle, but manufacturers and retailers are slowly starting to phase them out and looking for alternatives.
Mineral Oils and Petroleum
Mineral oil is a derivative of petroleum and is used in a number of hair products because it is associated with a smooth, gliding action. (Think baby oil which is 100% mineral oil) So the promise is smooth, shiny hair. In actual fact, mineral oils coat and seal the hair shaft, preventing it from breathing. This action negatively impacts the natural functioning of the skin, resulting in acne, skin breakouts, and causes it to age prematurely.
Proplyene glycol (PG)
A mineral oil to take particular note of is Proplyene glycol (PG). This chemical breaks down the healthy protein in your hair, and can cause severe scalp irritation – particularly if you’ve got sensitive skin.
It’s almost impossible to find absolutely no alcohol in hair products in some form or other, but one in particular, isopropyl alcohol, is particularly risky. Often found in hairsprays and gels to help keep your hairstyle in place, isopropyl alcohol dries the hair out terribly and studies suggest that inhaling or ingesting the vapour can be harmful, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, mental depression and even induce a coma.
Parabens are used in a number of consumer products as a preservative. While the jury is out on whether these actually pose a health risk or not, a few studies have linked parabens to breast cancer and reproductive issues.
Still not convinced? Try a legit ‘all natural’ product, and let us know if you see and feel a difference. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.