11 Hair Care Ingredients You Should Say NO To

It’s no secret that our cosmetic products contain chemicals. Some chemicals are somewhat safe to use however some should be completely abandoned.

Manufacturers in the beauty industry have been touting their products as ‘the best’, ‘no.1 solution for blah blah blah’ for a very long time. They are often using different types of ingredients to formulate their product in a way that it could take over a very competitive market. However, where some products become our favourite, some product definitely comes under scrutiny over their choice of ingredients. With more and more people now getting aware of the chemicals that could be harmful, brands have been taking utmost care to make their products.

BUT, it is always our responsibility to turn the bottle and check the ingredients list. Here, in this list, we have mentioned all the ingredients which are used in your hair care products and could be potentially very harmful to use. 

Related Read- Say NO To These Ingredients Present In Your Cosmetics.


1. Sulfates

hair ingredients

Sulfates are chemical agents most commonly found in house cleaners, soaps and detergents. There are two types of sulfates most commonly found in your shampoo Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

A. Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Ammonium lauryl sulfate like most of the sulfates present in the shampoo act as a cleaning agent. It binds with the sebum on the scalp with water. When rinsed out, all the sebum is washed out which although gives a cleaner scalp but comes with a problem. These sulfates are very strong and they can damage the hair in a way by making them brittle and weak. This could also lead to increased frizz in your hair.

B. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Another commonly found sulfate in shampoo is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). This sulfate has an additional property of lathering on your scalp. However, SLS can compromise follicles when left on the scalp for a long time. It has mutagenic properties and has many other toxic effects on the human body.

2. Parabens

We have talked about the presence of paraben in makeup, but parabens can also be found in your hair products. The main use of parabens is to prevent the growth of bacteria on any product. This increases the longevity of the product and gives them a longer shelf life. However, the tropical usage of the parabens leads to some absorption of it in the skin tissues. Parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen and there are studies that prove the same. 

Some studies have found evidence that parabens in cosmetics products could cause some serious threats for instance thyroid disruption, problems with reproductive health, obesity and in some cases breast cancer. 

That is why it is extremely dangerous to use products that contain parabens in them. 

3. Silicones

Extremely popular for their ability to control fizz and enhance shinning, silicones are one of the most commonly used hair care ingredients.

Dimethicone, a commonly used silicone, is actually a plastic that increases product build-up on your scalp. This makes your scalp appear greasy which gives a false impression that your hair is shiny. However, the truth is far away from shiny hair. They could weigh hair down and could make them look dull and lifeless.

Prolonged use of it can cause bulti up which could lead to clogged follicles which could lead to hair loss.

4. Formaldehyde

Just stay away from the hair product that has formaldehyde in it at all costs. Formaldehyde is one of the most dangerous ingredients used in cosmetic and hair care products. It is found to be carcinogenic in nature and in the experiments conducted on the animals it is proven that it could be absorbed through the skin. 

Manufacturers often add it directly as a preservative but sometimes it can be added indirectly to hide the recognition of the ingredient. When added indirectly, it is released over time through a chemical process from other types of preservatives.

Although the formaldehyde releasers have different-different names, the one that is common in shampoos is quaternium-15.

5. Phthalates

Phthalates are usually used for fragrance in any product that is used whether in cosmetics, skincare or hair products. If a product has a fragrance, it will surely have phthalates in it.  In hair care, phthalates are used as solvents and perfume fixatives.

In some studies, phthalates are found to be extremely dangerous. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, breast cancers, reproductive malformation and cardiovascular events are some of the health issues which could arise from the use of phthalates. 

6. Tricoslan

Another preservative that is extensively used in shampoos as an antibacterial agent is a triclosan. Although it is banned in antibacterial soaps, triclosan is allowed to be used in cosmetic products, toothpaste and even shampoos.

It shows signs of being a hormone disruptor and can potentially have the same damaging effects as the xenoestrogens. The chemical can lead to infertility, fetal harm, immune system issues, weight loss or gain, depression, uncontrolled cellular reproduction, and even cancer.

7. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Polyethene Glycol (PEG) is widely used as a thickening agent, often made from petroleum and some byproducts like ethylene oxides and 1,4-dioxane that are knowns for stripping the hair of moisture and causing breakage.

PEG has been classified as a developmental toxicant; this means it has the tendency of damaging or disrupting human development. Furthermore, it has also been linked to numerous types of cancer.

8. Diethanolamine And Triethanolamine

Diethanolamine (DEA) And Triethanolamine (TEA) are foaming agents or emulsifiers and could be present in your hair shampoos.  They are used to make a rich lather.  They reduce surface tension so water-soluble and oil-soluble ingredients can blend together and TEA also helps maintain the pH balance of the shampoo.

In 1998, researchers found a link between the topical application of DEA and cancer in animals during lab tests. Both DEA and TEA may combine and react with other chemicals and form Nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), which is a cancer-causing agent. According to research, the human skin can easily absorb NDEA which could cause skin problems.

9. Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is another commonly used product in cosmetic and hair products. Extensively used as lightening agents in fairness creams, they are also used in hair products as an antioxidant, fragrance ingredient, and oxidizing agent in hair dyes. In high and unmonitored usage, it could be carcinogenic. 

10. Synthetic Fragrances and Colors

“Fragrance’ is a broad term used by manufacturers to actually hide the long list of chemicals involved in making it. They are completely unnecessary in the product. Some ingredients in fragranced cosmetic products could cause asthma, and cancer or could even disrupt the reproductive system. They can also irritate the skin and scalp, which can lead to hair loss.

Most shampoos and conditioners are dyed with a synthetic colour to make them look nice. These colours come from petroleum or coal-tar sources, all of which come with harmful health effects. Synthetic colours will normally go by FD&C or D&C combined with a number.

10. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Used as a surfactant in shampoos and conditioners, Cocamidopropyl Betaine could lead to allergic reactions, especially in people with sensitive skin. They are even present in hair products that claim to be organic or natural because it is derived from coconut. Hair products use it together with dimethylaminopropylamine which can cause skin irritation, allergy, rosacea, and eczema.

11. Retinyl Palmitate

Ester of retinol combined with palmitic acid, Retinyl palmitate could also be found in some hair products. It is associated with skin allergies, itching, scaling, peeling, burning and redness. 

There are warnings about side effects from retinyl palmitate, including cancer, reproductive problems, and organ toxicity.

Our Final Thoughts

Looking at the list could look intimidating and make your hunt for a hair care product difficult but trust us, it’s not that hard to find a better solution.

Remember it is always our responsibility to check what we are buying. Look for alternatives that offer cleaner options so that you can avoid the usage of these chemicals and protect yourself from the harm they could cause.

Always check the label because it is always better to be safe than sorry!

Related Read: A Complete Guide To The Cosmetic Terminology

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