Are you trying to clean up your beauty routine? Find out which shampoo ingredients to avoid can be tough, but I'm here to help with a list of chemicals to avoid in shampoo as well as safer options for your hair.
Years ago, I had no idea what kind of things were in my shampoo! Looking at the ingredient labels now, I am shocked at what I used to use on my hair and whole body. Plus, think about the effect of some of those ingredients on the environment.
Here you are--trying to be healthy, but the thought of what is in your shampoo and other hair care products just never crossed your mind.
You've tried going gluten-free, eating grain free, soaking your grains, soaking nuts and seeds, going sugar-free, or you've looked at heavy metals, and done work on your stress, thyroid, and adrenals. Why should your shampoo be a concern?
Think about it this way.
You've heard about medical patches, right? Pharmaceutical companies put meds into patches that you can wear on your skin in order to deliver the drug.
And there are, of course, creams and ointments that contain medications -- like hydrocortisone (something I sadly used a lot on my son when he had horrid eczema due to food allergies), antibiotic ointments, hemorrhoid creams, and more.
These creams work by delivering medication through your skin.
Well, medicine isn't the only thing that can go through your skin.
Some chemicals in beauty products can get in too.
Have you thought about what synthetic chemicals are likely lurking in your hair care products and if they are getting absorbed into your skin? Here are some things that might be sitting on your head.
Possible Shampoo Ingredients to Avoid
While all of these ingredients may not be a health concern, here are some ingredients that you might wish to avoid in your shampoo and other personal care products.
Parabens - Methyl, ethyl, propyl and butylparaben have been found to mimic estrogen in the body, which can disrupt your hormones. Parabens seem to cause human breast tumor cells to grow and proliferate. (Source)
Propylene Glycol - According to the MSDS, it can be mutagenic (that means it affects genetic material) and cause adverse reproductive and birth defects.
Synthetic Dyes and Colors - These are considered to be unclassifiable carcinogens by the WHO and US EPA. One study found that women who dye their hair regularly are up to three times more likely to develop bladder cancer. Whoa! Side note - highlighting apparently isn't as dangerous since the chemicals don't go all the way to your scalp.
Plasticizers - There can be plasticizers in many hair sprays, especially the "super hold" kind. If you see words that end in "-cone" like dimethicone and cyclomethicone, that's a tip off. I don't want plastic in my hair, do you?
Perms - Harsh chemical delivered right on your scalp. I'd sometimes have sections of hair completely burned off and sometimes even had my forehead burned when I used to get perms. Not a good sign.
Fragrance - This category can include so many things. If you're like me, the smell of artificial fragrance can really give you a headache. Apparently fragrances in beauty products are one of the most common causes of skin irritation and allergic reactions. (Source)
This sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Sadly, that's only a short list.
Personally, I used to try all kinds of hair products in my "pre crunchy" days in search of a product that would give me the style I wanted. And I got a perm about twice a year then too.
I really loved products that added body to my hair, but I started to figure out that going more natural was the only option for me when I started having trouble finding a hair spray that I liked. I bought a bunch of different brands and felt like I had brain fog from the plethora of chemical fragrances in them. Talk about stink.
I knew I needed to make a change.
How to Have Healthier Hair
1. Avoid chemical treatments
Since my "twice a year perm days", I've ditched the perms completely and I am really glad I have. My hair feels healthier, and I don't have any more burned off sections or singed forehead spots :). (I can't believe I did that now.)
Skip the perms and go natural if you can.
If you really feel the need to add some color to your hair, try henna or at least do highlights instead of overall color to avoid chemicals being in contact with your scalp.
2. Buy or Make Toxin-free Products
Basically, you have to start thinking about your hair products just like you think about what you eat.
Read labels and be discerning about what you use on your hair.
Simply put: If it's not safe, don't put it on your head.
Over the years, I've tried a number of natural hair products.
I've made my own shampoo (haven't been pleased with the results) and have tried a bunch of more natural shampoos that I didn't really care for. I've considered the "no poo" (not using shampoo) method, but have have heard too many horror stories about hair being ruined after doing this for a few months. Right now, ruined hair isn't something I feel like I can handle without a bunch of stress.
I'm really happy with my Homemade Hair Spray and I use my Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse on occasion to clarify my hair, and these DIY Hair Masks are great for intense treatments, but shampoo and conditioner are something that I have just resigned myself to buying for now.
Also, if hair loss is an issue for you, this essential oils for hair growth blend is really helpful and includes ingredients to nourish your scalp.
My Choices for Non Toxic Hair Care
Here are a few brands that I recommend.
Beautycounter's Shampoo and Conditioner is made of non-toxic and they batch test their products so you know they are on top of things. It's very rare to have the attention to detail that this company has. Their basic Shampoo and Conditioner perform like typical salon brands, but at a lower price point--and with cleaner ingredients.
Many people love their Basic Shampoo. I also really like this Leave In Conditioner from Giovanni and the Volume Spray from Morrocco Method. Morrocco Method's Diamond Moisture Mist is really nice as well.
My hair gets great volume with these products.
Along with their shampoo I like Beautycounter's Sea Salt Spray. It's a great way to have beach waves without going to the beach and without toxins. It adds some body too.
You can read more about Beautycounter and what I love about them here.
If you have drier hair, the Kids' Conditioner is more nourishing than their regular conditioner.
Note: if you end up trying some new healthier hair products, your hair might act kind of--well, funky for awhile. Once the icky coatings are gone you should be back to your beautiful self or onto even better hair.
Hope that helps you move towards a more natural beauty routine. Cause a nice "do" isn't worth getting sick for.
Now that you know which shampoo ingredients to avoid, will you do it?