What’s Really in Your Shampoo (and Is It Bad for You?)

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What’s Really in Your Shampoo (and Is It Bad for You?)

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Do you know exactly what’s in your hair goo and what it does to you? Now you do.

Do you know what chemicals are lurking in your shampoo? 

Ever try reading the ingredient list on your shampoo bottle? It’s like a Latin haiku. 

The Secrets The Beauty Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know, to tell us what all those complicated-sounding ingredients are and what they do.

Well we have found a list of some of the names for ingredients found in many shampoos and conditioners and many other products use on a daily basis.

the 10 worst commonly found product ingredients things you can put on your hair (and body). Check the list of ingredients on your hair products. The more of a particular ingredient you have in a product, the closer it is to the top of the list of ingredients on the bottle:

1. ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL: This is a solvent and denaturant (poisonous substance that changes another substances natural qualities). Isopropyl alcohol is found in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotions, after-shave lotions, fragrances and many other cosmetics. This petroleum-derived substance is also used in antifreeze and as a solvent in shellac. Napptural hair reacts very badly to isoalcohol and this ingredient should be avoided at ALL costs. It will dry your hair out and break it off. According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, inhalation or ingestion of the vapor may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis and even coma. 

2. MINERAL OIL & PETROLATUM:The best baby oil is made from almonds. But the oil which being sold as baby oil is 100% mineral oil. Mineral oil is a derivative of crude oil (petroleum) that is used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. This commonly used petroleum ingredient coats the skin and hair just like plastic wrap. The skin’s natural barrier is disrupted as this plastic coating inhibits its ability to breathe and absorb the Natural Moisture Factor (moisture and nutrition). The skin’s ability to release toxins and wastes is impossible through this “plastic wrap,” which can promote acne and other disorders. It further hinders normal skin respiration/transpiration by keeping oxygen out. This process slows down skin function and normal cell development causing the skin to prematurely age. Holding in large a mounts of moisture in the skin can “flood” the biology and may result in immature, unhealthy, sensitive skin that dries out easily. Petrolatum – A petroleum-based grease that is used industrially as a grease component. Petrolatum exhibits many of the same potentially harmful properties as mineral oil.
Honestly, this stuff belongs in your engine, not on your hair. Regardless of “Well, my Grandma used vaseline on her hair and it grew ”, the bottom line is this stuff is bad. It was bad for Grandma and it is bad for you. Period.

3. PEG: This is an abbreviation for polyethylene glycol that is used in making cleansers to dissolve oil and grease as well as thicken products. Because of their effectiveness, PEG’s are often used in caustic spray on oven cleaners and yet are found in many personal care products. PEG’s contribute to stripping the Natural Moisture Factor, leaving the immune system vulnerable. They are also potentially carcinogenic. 

4. PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG): As a “surfactant” or wetting agent and solvent, this ingredient is actually the active component in antifreeze. There is no difference between the PG used in industry and the PG used in personal care products. It is used in industry to break down protein and cellular structure (what the skin is made of) yet is found in most forms of make-up, hair products, lotions, after-shave, deodorants, mouthwashes and toothpaste. It is also used in food processing. Because of its ability to quickly penetrate the skin, the EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with this toxic substance. The Material Safety Data Sheets warn against skin contact, as PG has systemic consequences such as brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. Consumers are not protected nor is there a warning label on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than that in most industrial applications.

5. SODIUM LAURYL SUFATE (SLS) & SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES): SLS is used in testing labs as the standard ingredient to irritate skin. Used as detergents and surfactants, these closely related compounds are found in car wash soaps, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. Yet both SLS and SLES are used more widely as one of the major ingredients in cosmetics, toothpaste, hair conditioner and about 90% of all shampoos and products that foam. They are used in personal-care products because they are cheap. A small amount generates a large amount of foam, and when salt is added it thicken to give the illusion of being thick and concentrated. (SOME OF THE NITROSATING AGENTS ARE: SLS, SLES, DEA, TEA, MEA). Shampooing the hair with a product contaminated with these substances can lead to its absorption into the body at levels much higher than eating nitrite-contaminated foods.
Mark Fearer in an article, Dangerous Beauty, says, “…in tests, animals that were exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, along with depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and corrosion and death.” According to the American College of Toxicology states both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children’s eyes. Other research has indicated SLS may be damaging to the immune system, especially within the skin. Skin layers may separate and inflame due to its protein denaturing properties. It is possibly the most dangerous of ad ingredients in personal care products. Research has shown that SLS when combined with other chemicals can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens, which causes the body to absorb nitrates at higher levels than eating nitrate contaminated food.“ According to the American College of Toxicity report, “SLS stays in the body for up to five days…” Other studies have indicated that SLS easily penetrates through the skin and enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain. This poses serious questions regarding its potential health threat through its use in shampoos, cleansers and toothpaste,“ 
Studies show its danger potential to be great when used in personal-care products. Toxicity – A serious problem with these chemicals is that they may be contaminated with NDELA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine), one of the nitrosamines and a potent carcinogen, according to a 1978 FDA report.

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 SLS and SLES can enter the blood stream. They may cause potentially carcinogenic formations of nitrates and dioxins to form in shampoos and cleansers by reacting with other product ingredients. Large amounts of nitrates may enter the blood system from just one shampooing. Contains ether.

6. CHLORINE: According to Doris J. Rapp, M.D., author of Is This your Child’s World? exposure to chlorine in tap water, Showers, pool, laundry products, cleaning agents, food processing, sewage systems and many others, can effect health by contributing to asthma, hay fever, anemia, bronchitis, circulatory collapse, confusion, delirium diabetes, dizziness, irritation of the eye, mouth, nose throat, lung, skin and stomach, heart disease, high blood pressure and nausea. It is also a possible cause of cancer. Even though you will not see Chlorine on personal care product labels, it is important for you to be aware of the need to protect your skin when bathing and washing your hair. 

7. DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (momoethnanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine): DEA and MEA are usual listed on the ingredients label in conjunction with the compound being neutralized. Thus look for names like Cocamide DEA or MES, Lauramide DEA, etc. These are hormone disrupting chemicals and are known to form cancer causing nitrates and nitrosamines. . These are commonly found in most personal care products that foam, including bubble baths, body washes, shampoos, soaps and facial cleansers. On the show, CBS This Morning, Roberta Baskin revealed that a recent government report shows DEA and MEA are readily absorbed in the skin. Dr. Samuel Epstein, Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois said “repeated skin applications of DEA-based detergents resulted in a major increase in the incidence of two cancers – liver and kidney cancers.” John Bailey, who oversees the cosmetic division for the FDA said the new study is especial important since “the risk equation changes significantly for children.” 

8. FD & C Color PIGMENTS: Many color pigments cause skin sensitivity and irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and even death according to A Consumer’s dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients. Debra Lynn Dadd says in Home Safe Home: “Colors that can be used in foods, drug, and cosmetics are made from coal tar. There is a great deal of controversy about their use, because animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.” 

9. FRAGRANCE: Fragrance is present in most deodorants shampoos, sunscreens, skin care, body care and baby products. Many of the compounds in fragrance are carcinogenic or otherwise toxic. “Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to 4,000 separate ingredients. Most or all of them are synthetic. Symptoms reported to the FDA have included headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation. Clinical observation by medical doctors have shown that exposure to fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes,” (Home Safe Home). 
For better health try purchasing unscented products and for fragrance, adding a natural essential oil.

10. IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA and DMDM HYDANTOIN: These are just two of the many preservatives that release formaldehyde (formaldehyde-donors). According to the Mayo clinic, formaldehyde can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin reactions and trigger heart palpitations. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, Chronic fatigue, dizziness and loss of sleep. It can also aggravate coughs and colds and trigger asthma. Serious side effects include weakening of the immune system and cancer. Nearly all brands of skin, body and hair care, antiperspirants and nail polish found in stores contain formaldehyde-releasing ingredients.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Once found in pretty much every shampoo, these ingredients help cleanse and foam. Both are derived from coconut oil, but they’re two different ingredients. “They’re similar, but the Laureth goes through an ethoxylation process, Which means? “Ethoxylation results in a byproduct called 1,4 dioxane—it’s not listed on the label, but that is the cancer-causing aspect of the ingredient. So, avoid any ingredients ending in ‘eth.’ ” Which means you want to avoid ammonium laureth sulfate.

While it used to be found in almost every shampoo, when concerns were raised over the ingredient’s toxicity level, a lot of companies switched over to the ammonium versions—not that it’s much better.The sodium and ammonium laureth sulfates are known cancer-causing ingredients.”

So what should you look for instead? Anything with the words “glucose” or “glucoside” in them—for example, sodium lauryl glucose or lauryl glucose.

Sodium Chloride

It may sound sinister, but sodium chloride—found in thousands of shampoos—is just salt used to thicken or trigger thickening capabilities in your shampoo. No need to fret—or search for another alternative.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

You’ll find this foaming agent—a surfact derived through a chemical process with coconut oil—in shampoo and body washes. In a finished product, it causes no harm to the body, and while there are alternatives, they’re not necessary.


This solvent or emulsifier helps to bind oil and water together, and is often used to dissolve in the fragrance or other oil additives. And while it’s predominantly found in conditioners, there are some shampoos that carry it, too. But this one’s loaded with trouble for your body.

“It’s damaging at a few levels, and while some professionals don’t report any real health concern, there should be a concern from the reaction with the scalp (in haircare products) and the skin (in face and body products) since it often leaves a residue on the skin, disrupts the skin’s natural pH, and emulsifies lipids in the natural protective barrier.”

There are alternatives to using polysorbates, but They’re expensive, so they’re often not used. Derived from corn: zea mays or maize, often listed as corn water or propanediol.”

Citric Acid

It’s not just for oranges. This citrus fruit derivative, part of the alpha hydroxyl acid family, can be found in thousands of personal care products—including many in the natural line of care. Typically it’s used to lower the pH balance. And there’s no need to fret—it’s all good for your body, so there’s no healthier alternative needed.


Not all glycol is created equal. It’s a common ingredient in hair and personal care products, but there are different types. Says Pollock, “The more common are polyethylene glycol, often listed as PEG. These, again, are ethoxylated and are cancer-causing chemicals.” It’s used as a solvent to incorporate products into a formula, and they’re extremely dangerous—they’re known carcinogens. So what can we use in their place? “The corn maize-derived solvent listed above.


That smooth feeling you get when you run your hands through freshly conditioned hair? That’s amodimethicone, a silicone-based polymer used to seal in moisture. But it comes with its own host of troubles. 

“Dimethicones and silicones are occlusive, meaning they don’t allow something to breathe—they seal in moisture and seal out everything else, avoid dimethicones and silicones when possible because the scalp needs to breathe. Sealing the scalp, could lead to thinning of the hair. However, on the hair follicle, it can protect it from heat and provide shine.”

So what should you use instead? Look for natural oils like jojoba, argan, rose hip, sweet almond, olive oil or shea butter.

Behentrimonium Chloride 

Another type of salt, behentrimonium chloride is a quaternary ammonium salt used in shampoos, conditioners and hairstyling products as a preservative. But is it damaging to your body?

“It can have some level of irritation, just like any preservative can, Preservatives are meant to kill bacteria and contaminants, so they have to have some level of aggressiveness. This alone is often not the sole preservative—most formulators use a combination of preservatives, each with its own particular function or bacteria to attack.

If you’re concerned, look for products with dehydroacetic acid and benzyl alcohol instead.

Hydrolysed Soy Protein

This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a soy-derived protein, including their amino acid compounds—which are essential building blocks. Found in tons of different haircare products, hydrolysed soy protein is thought to nourish and strengthen the hair follicle. But whether it’s problematic for your body or not depends on your constitution.

“Some have a problem with soy, It’s processed, so those with soy allergies wouldn’t necessarily have a problem. Some doctors swear by soy as the key to any diet or part of any healthy lifestyle, while some think you should avoid soy.

If you’d rather play it safe, there are other hydrolyzed proteins—like rice, vegetable or wheat—as an alternative.

Hydrolysed Collagen

Here’s the trick with collagen: It’s a key component to our bodies, but the skin can’t absorb it because the molecule is too large. So while it’s not damaging to your body, any brand claiming to strengthen your hair—like conditioners or hair masks—is just giving you a load of marketing hype. The best bet is to get the body to synthesize it, using a peptide, vitamin C or other technology to get the body to synthesize collagen on its own.”

Cetrimonium Chloride

Both shampoos and conditioners are the home for this quaternary ammonium compound, which is most often used as a preservative. It’s about as sinister as any of the other preservatives listed above, but As a conditioning agent, it’s not needed.





One Comment

    LADY ZIONESS December 4, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Could a recipe for an alternative to shampoo be uploaded so that there is an example?

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