5 Toxins To Avoid In Your Shampoo and Conditioner
Show of hands: How many of us have found ourselves with day-five hair, only to realize that we’re fresh out of shampoo? No judgment, we’ve all been there. In a pinch, running to the drugstore and buying the first bottle of shampoo you see seems harmless enough, but here’s some real talk: there’s a lot more to know about what goes into your shampoo and conditioner than you might think. That’s why we’re breaking down a cheat sheet of five harmful toxins to steer clear of when replacing your hair products. Let’s dive in.
You’ll find that many natural and high-end shampoo labels boast that they’re sulfate-free—and for good reason. Sulfates are chemical cleaning agents (also commonly found in soap and toothpaste) used to create a lather that rids hair of dirt and oil. While they can help produce a deep clean, they do so at the risk of stripping your hair of its natural oils, causing it to become dry and fragile. Sulfates are especially detrimental to those with sensitive scalps since they can cause irritation and dryness, which may lead to redness, rash, or swelling.
This alcohol, which is formed from petroleum and is commonly used in antifreeze (we can all agree that this is never a good sign when it comes to beauty products), is often found in shampoos to cut through grease, and its responsible for that squeaky clean and shiny effect on your hair just after washing. Unfortunately, the fact that it’s so good at removing oils also means that it can strip your hair of its necessary nutrients and can be extremely drying. Not to mention, it’s highly flammable and can be toxic if inhaled.
Parabens are used as a preservative in shampoo to battle bacteria and fungus, but in addition to potentially causing allergies and inflaming skin conditions such as dermatitis and rosacea, they can also have more serious side effects. “Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity,” according to the non-profit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC). Scientific American also reports that, in a 2004 British study, the CSC found evidence of five parabens in the breast tumors of 19 out of 20 women. The list of parabens that you may find in your shampoo and will want to avoid are Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, and Isobutylparaben.
Dimethicone is a silicone often found in hair conditioning treatments that has known its ability to make hair soft and shiny, but it’s important to note that this is mostly a surface-based appeal. Dimethicone creates a plastic-type barrier around the hair shaft (that’s the temporary shine you’ll notice) which smooths the hair cuticle, but also prevents water and moisturizers from being absorbed into the hair, ultimately leaving it dry and lifeless over time.
Triclosan is often found in beauty products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. However, according to the FDA, “some short-term animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan is associated with a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones… other studies have raised the possibility that exposure to triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.” While no conclusions have been drawn about these studies as it relates to human health, we think the current findings stand as enough reason to steer clear of this toxic ingredient.
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