Shampoo Ingredients To Avoid

Categories: Hair Care, Paula Begoun
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shampoo ingredients to avoidWhen I’m not worrying about skin care, I’m thinking about hair! When my hair started falling out like crazy several years ago, I began my hair loss research, and found that just like with skin care, there are a lot of hair care product ingredients to avoid as well! The ingredients I’m going to tell you about might not make your hair fall out, but they are unnecessarily harsh on your hair and scalp. There’s no need to use these ingredients when there are plenty of shampoos (some of which are very inexpensive) that don’t contain them.

If you are concerned about hair care, and what you are cleansing and styling with, check out this book: Don’t Go Shopping For Hair-Care Products Without Me – Paula Begoun. It’s a few years old, but it’s still a good resource to learn more about hair care, and a lot of the products reviewed are still on the market today.

Shampoo Cleansing Ingredients To Avoid:

Extremely common ingredients
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
Ammonium Xylene Sulfonate
TEA Lauryl Sulfate
Sulfur (in dandruff shampoos)
Selenium Sulfide (in dandruff shampoos)

Less common ingredients
Magnesium Sulfate
Sodium Thiosulfate
Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
Alkyl Sodium Sulfate
Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate
Sodium C12-15 Alkyl Sulfate
Sodium Dodecyl Sulfonate

At the drugstore, a lot of the cheap shampoo brands like Suave, Dove, VO5, and Pert Plus contain these “bad” ingredients and I would suggest staying away from them. I’m sorry to say, even Pantene is a shampoo that is on the “bad” list.

Good Shampoos
Currently I use mostly drugstore shampoos that only cost a few dollars, and they work great and do not contain the “bad” ingredients. I’ve been using L’Oreal Vive Pro Nutri Gloss Shampoo, and Garnier Fructis Fortifying Shampoo, and from Ulta I buy Back To Basics Citrus Clarifying Sage Shampoo. At the store today, I noticed cheapo Sunsilk also makes the “okay” list. Most of the higher-end drugstore shampoos, or more expensive shampoos from Ulta or hair salons don’t contain the bad ingredients, but you should still read the labels to make sure. I’ve used expensive shampoos, and don’t think they work better than cheap ones, which is why, even with my hair loss issues, I’m okay with $3 shampoos if they contain the right ingredients.

Is there ever a time when it’s good to use “bad” shampoos?
Several years ago, I dyed my hair with a semi-permanent color, and for some reason my hair turned black, and it was all goopy and sticky, even after washing it 3 times! I was desperate and bought the cheapest, crappiest sounding shampoo I could find, hoping that it would be super harsh. I believe I bought Prell. Well, let me tell you, that Prell got all the goop out of my hair and it worked wonders to strip all the nastiness right out of there!

If you have “perfect” hair and are using Pantene, or some other shampoo that contains the “bad” ingredients, then by all means keep using it. But if you are experiencing any problems at all – hair loss, dandruff, dry hair, frizzy hair, then I would recommend switching.

What about Sodium Laureth Sulfate?
Sodium Laureth Sulfate is the gentler version of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. A lot has been written about the evils of SLS, and how it is extremely irritating and possibly carcinogenic. At this point, I personally feel comfortable using Sodium Laureth Sulfate, but stay away from its harsher Sodium Lauryl Sulfate cousin.

What about “natural” shampoos?
If you go to Whole Foods, or even some drugstores, there are shampoos that are SLS-free. This is good if you are sensitive to SLS, or are afraid of it. However, natural shampoos aren’t necessarily and better than regular ones, nor are they really all that “natural.” A lot of natural shampoos also contain a lot of ingredients that Paula Begoun deems irriting, which is why I stick with regular shampoos. Below is a list of more ingredients to avoid. I usually don’t bother searching labels for these ingredients since these aren’t usually in regular shampoos.

Shampoo Additive Ingredients To Avoid:
Balm Mint
Certain Essential Oils
Lavender Oil

Update: I also wrote a recent post about sulfate-free shampoos – SLS Free Shampoo and a reader told me about this website – Tightly Curly Hair Care Products Ingredients List, where there is a very long list of shampoo ingredients to use, and to avoid (you can search there alphabetically).

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96 Responses to “Shampoo Ingredients To Avoid”

  1. Susan Says:

    SLS, from what I’ve read, is basically irritating *because* it’s a detergent. We need oils in our skin and removing too many is bad. But this is something that can happen with *any* detergent, so it’s not just SLS… I’ve actually cut way back from using shampoo in general, myself, and found that my normally-frazzled hair is doing a lot better because of it. But it all depends on your own hair, I think… if you have fine, easily-weighed-down hair, the same oils that I’m trying to preserve could leave your hair greasy and stringy, and then a detergent would be a good thing.

  2. Left Brain Says:

    Nice article but unfortunately Paula doesn’t completely understand the chemistry of the things she writes about. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paula and she has some great advice. However, sometimes she gets things just a little bit wrong. For example…

    There is practically no difference between ALES and SLES. These ingredients are salts and when they are put in water, the “Ammonium” part and the “Sodium” part separate from the “Laureth Sulfate” part. There is no noticeable difference between the two. So, if the advice is to avoid ALES then the same should apply to SLES.

    The advice also doesn’t consider formulating tricks that are done to reduce irritation of detergents and other ingredients in the formula. For example, Pantene includes glycol distearate and cocamidopropyl betaine in their formulas which has the benefit of significantly reducing irritation. In fact, some SLES formulas would score worse in irritation and harshness tests than Pantene. (Note I’m not endorsing Pantene, just pointing out some facts about formulating).

    Incidentally, the next time you have a tough time getting color out of your hair, soaking it in warm distilled water works better than any shampoo.

  3. masood Says:

    does pantene pro have any kind of pork,beef in the ingrediantes……
    thank you

  4. lane Says:

    i actually use alberto vo5 kiwi lime squeeze clarifying conditioner to wash my hair. i know it’s not a shampoo, but luckily it doesnt have any of those ingredients. i have a question… it uses actindia chinensis (kiwi) fruit extract and lime peel extract. is that considered an additive that is harmful.

  5. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I haven’t read about those ingredients being bad for hair, so you should be fine. I’ve never thought about using conditioner to wash hair, since I didn’t think it had any cleansing ingredients in it to clean hair.

  6. Tonic Gifts Says:

    Bits of Beauty – Part 20…

    Tis the season to be jolly but all in moderation otherwise you could end up looking like St Nicholas himself come mid January. Alex from Health Owner discusses the difference in saturated fat and unsaturated fat and the direct benefits…

  7. judycooper Says:

    want to know if a shampoo can be used as a body wash also. very good information

  8. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I wouldn’t use regular shampoo as a body wash because it usually has ingredients that are a bit more drying and harsh than body washes. However, there are some body washes that have basically the same ingredients as shampoo, so it just depends on the product.

    Also, Philosophy makes products that you can use as shampoo and body wash (and I think bubble bath).

  9. lovy Says:

    Jeni, isnt garnier also have SLS in it?

  10. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    The Garnier I use doesn’t have Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in it.

    It has Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which is much less harsh, and what’s in most shampoos that are a bit more expensive.

  11. lovy Says:

    oh yes Jeni, i just checked it out, and you are right. I just learned that hair care products sometimes also can be the cause or aggravating acne, especially when we wear our hair down and sometimes touches our face. Is there any ingredients in Garnier shampoo that is bad for acne prone skin or are they safe?

  12. Connie Says:

    I have the last 2 published books of Paulas regarding hair care products, and find some of the info from book to book differed. One said to avoid a shampoo I was researching and the next said it was good. That confused me. I have fine thin oily hair and still have not found a suitable shampoo or product to handle my hair. Any help would be appreciated.

  13. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I haven’t noticed any discrepancies in Paula’s books, but I guess it’s not surprising since she reviews thousands of products! I wonder if the product’s formula changed? I also have a lot of problems with my hair, and I’m by no means an expert when it comes to making hair look good. I would look in Paula’s book, and then look up every shampoo that sounds good in the Product Reviews on to see what other people say. And I’m sure you are already using shampoos for oily hair, or a clarifying shampoo?

  14. Jo Says:

    I’m not sure what your concern is limited to in saying that some products are “bad,” others are “okay,” and some are “good.” My real concern is in the brands that you list as “good.” There is nothing good about L’Oreal. They put lead in lipstick, test on animals, and pollute to boot! The cosmetic industry is overall a dirty one. There are, however, some that work to make less of an impact on our overall health and the environment. Perhaps you should give professional products another look, or maybe the shelves of your local organic market.
    an industry professional

  15. Von Says:

    Since using Loreal Paris Elseve Nutri-Gloss Pro Protein Shampoo, i’ve been having burnt looking skin on my neck. After using my skin burns. Has anyone had a similar experience with this or any other shampoo?

  16. SHAWNA Says:


  17. OhNo! Mobile Computer Repairs Says:

    Lo’real test on animails , that is not good!

  18. OhNo! Mobile Computer Repairs Says:

    I use mostly natural products and have very sensitive scalp

    I wish fixing my hair was as easy as my day job fixing computers with OhNo!

  19. Jan Says:

    Pantene contains the major ingredients that I avoid:
    Tthe Alcohol and perfume alone strip my brown hair color.
    Personally Use the mildest shampoo with the least ingredients.

  20. h_s Says:

    FOR YEARS, I used Aussie shampoo and conditioner and was forced to stop when they changed their formula. When that happened ~ *POOF!* ~ Instant dandruff! To this day, if I see the words “New and Improved” on a hair care product, I refuse to buy it. Why fix it? It wasnt broken! I used to enjoy using Head and Shoulders just because I loved the way it made my hair feel. Well, I can tell you, those days are over. “New and Improved” strikes again. I am forced to use baby shampoo and leave-in conditioner. I’m afraid to use anything else anymore. HELP!! What are they doing to our shampoos, and can you suggest anything in particular to try?

  21. CHristine Says:

    ok, I am a shampoo junkie.. Can someone recommend a shampoo that work well, cleans nicely, doesn’t weight down hair (as mine isn’t thick).. and is healthy , if there is such a thing?.. Thanks

  22. sarahlily Says:

    umm, many of the natural ingredients you listed are things that are good for your hair. many of the herbs listed have been used as beauty products for thousands of years. for example, rose is one of the best ingredients to help your hair retain moisture. essential oil of the tea tree plant is an amazing cleaner with the power to cure dandruff and acne. i think you need to do a little more research, and make sure your sources aren’t trying to discredit the natural product industry for profit.

  23. Sam Says:

    I have really dry hair due to my hairdressing saying cutting my hair short was a good idea and then dying it from dark brown to blonde.
    I have just been to a (DIFFERENT!) salon and have had the majority of my split ends and dryness cut off.
    but i really need a good moisturising shampoo and conditioner
    i was using dove until my hairdresser told me that it is actually really bad for trying to put the moisture back in my hair

  24. sue nash Says:

    I have celiac and can not come in contect with any gluten or cross contamination. Do you know of any hair prouducts I can use? Speacialy conditoner and mousee Thank you for any help you may give Sue

  25. Lee Says:

    I do not agree at all with this. This is completely a new age theory. Any detergent that does it’s job will be on the “bad list”. If it is not, it is not completely doing it’s job. I am not a professional on this matter but I am a senior chemistry student and plan to go to grad school> i am currently designing my own line. Another problem is that “natural” shampoo can not sell to the masses because of the awful smells that come a long with it. I have perfect long hair, and I use a variety of shampoos and my mom also owns a salon. I like the simple stuff found at wal-mart like pantene pro-v, aussie(personal fav), and tresemme. The real problem with some of these shampoos that are mentioned is not the detergent, but the ph levels they can temporaily turn your hair. If anyone does read please note, do not fall in love with only one shampoo, as this will no dount cause build up no matter what the “bottle or company” says.

  26. mimi87 Says:

    Hi everyone,

    I have used almost every drug store shampoo you can think of and none of them had a WOW factor effect like they made it seem in their TV commercials. ugh.

    My hair is thick, coarse, mostly dry and quite long. I’ve tried TIGI bed head Moisture Maniac which left my hair with that annoying squeaky feeling. So i switched to Redken “All Soft” shampoo and conditioner in hopes to achieve the opposite and boy did I get that, maybe a little too much. After 4 weeks of use only once each week my hair felt extremely weighed down, dull and lifeless with quite a lot of what I believe to be product build up (dimethicone!)
    Now I’m trying Kerastase Bain Satin 2 accompanied by Lait Vital conditioner and so far the only downside is that my scalp feels a little itchy every now and then and I’m noticing some dandruff (may need clarifiying shampoo), but oddly enough my hair has never felt or looked so amazing. It is shiny, soft and feels oh-so hydrated. I love this so far! I think it may have something to do with all the protein and “Citric acid” which tames the hair follicle.
    Next I will be trying Matrix Biolage Hydrating range which I’ve read quite a lot of good reviews about!

  27. paula quilts Says:

    I accidently went to the Made from Earth skin care website when looking for something for my research paper, and it was one of the best accidents i ever had. I tried their Organic Tea & Protein Shampoo and loved it….It has a great scent and is gentle on my scalp. Compared to the $30-40i I used to spend on organic shampoo this is an even match at a cheaper price. Best for use to make your hair fuller and fresher….

  28. Alka Says:

    I am a bit confused. The website says to not use shampoos with additive ingredients such as sage, orange etc… but it is mentioned that Paula uses Back to Basics Citrus Clarifying Sage Shampoo? Perhaps I am not understanding correctly. Thanks for clarifyin!

  29. Cindy Selby Says:

    I always wanted to know what harmful ingredients are in shampoos and conditioners, I use basically an 1-Z brands of shampoo and conditioner,whatever catches my eye. I do have my hair breaking off and when I rinse the shampoo and conditioner out I di have some hair falling out,Not in a balding way mind you. I do have long hair that stops growing at about 8 inches past my shoulders. Plus I also dye my hair but now only from dark blonde to medium ash brown. I do use shampoos with the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate,Ammonium Laureth Sulfate ingredients and the flower or fruit scented ones like Sauve Naturals. Thanks for the eye opening info on this news, possibly the shampoos I use are more harmful to my hair than they appear? I watch the Dirty Jobs show on Discovery and the host Mike Rowe did a segment on organic hair wash -Not shampoo that has no harmful ingriedients called “Terressentials”
    and you can visit their website and purchase their products here at
    I may try this hair wash out and see how my hair does and feels.

  30. lolly Says:

    midollo di bamboo is ultra gentil if you have very over prosessed hair! i just got two sets of full head highlights and my hair was in bits! i felt like crying!the hair dressers warned me that this would happen and now my hair is so so so dry!but i love the coulour! i went darkish brown to sandy blond! so anyway the hairdresser told me about this shampoo and conditoner and its AMAZING!! its supossed to repair your hair 100 percent but i wouldnt beleve that i have used the mask twice and its about 20- 30% better! i would reccomend it if your hair is seriously over prossesed! the shampoo and mask is what i have!

  31. LIsa Says:

    Does anyone have any recommendations for a shampoo to suit a young girl aged 3.5. I have tried Pears and VO5 but her scalp seems to react badly to one or other of these. I need a supermarket brand but preferably not one that costs a fortune. Her hair is growing thick and curly so needs something more than just the useless gentle baby shampoos and conditioners you get – they do nothing and leave her hair in flyaway knots.
    For my part I have think oily hair and I loved Pantene for several years. Then I discovered Bed Head through my hairdresser and its great – highly recommended.

  32. Ava Says:

    What bad things are in Ookisa,I tried it (used it twice) and it ruined my hair.My hair started snapping off immediately and hasen’t stopped(3 months) I’ve lost aprox half my hair.How do I stop it?

  33. Atchaya Says:

    Hey could anyone plz tell what shampoo should i use for dry and damaged hair???

  34. Sally Says:

    You forgot the worst one! Dimethicone/silicon! It’s a sneaky little buggar that gives you the feel that your hair is moisturized, but actually blocks essential moisture.

  35. Sarah Says:

    Being a Cosmetologist, I could tell you a lot about shampoo and conditioner. You are right on most of your facts, but I must warn you on a couple MAJOR things about store bought shampoo.. Pantene is on the bad list, and the reason why your hair may seem healthy, is because it contains A LOT of wax. Which can make it hard for color, perms, etc. Also it will weigh your hair down over time. I had a client that used nothing but Pantene, and I could literally scrape the wax off of her hair shaft.. Therefore she bought a salon brand shampoo, and continues to thank me to this day.

    Also, NEVER EVER buy “Paul Mitchell” (or any other salon brand) that is not sold in a salon. They are not real. They have just as much bacteria in them as raw sewage. People have got very sick by using the products.

    Salon brand products also have a MUCH longer shelf life than drug store shampoos. So not only could it be the ingredients that are irritating, but they also could be out dated and chalked full of bad bacteria.

    Never forget, that you can get salon brand products at a great price, you just need to shop around and check for sales. For example, Smart Style in Wal Mart, SuperCuts, J.C. Penney salons (awesome deals there..usually always a sale), Sallys Beauty Supply (Generic Salon brands- but they are just as good!).. Explore your options! =]

  36. rosc Says:

    I’ve tried alot of things, including the “not washing” theory and borax and such. Tried conditioner only too, but I’d be a greaser for sure if I did that all the time. What works for me is just regular old Suave “humectant” and conditioner. And, only washing every few days. I think my hair looks best the day after a wash, after it’s built up a little “dirt” and oil, but not too much. After 3-4 days, it gets the greaser look, which may not be so bad, at least it’s easy to comb. I have long thin hair and psoriasis, so I try to not dry out the ends. Always always always use conditioner! That’s a must. I don’t use leave-in types, again, greaser would be the result for me. People worry too much about their hair, that’s the problem. Stop washing it so much, you judge yourself worse than other people lookin at ya do :)

  37. Kat Says:

    Has anyone tried Wen, and what do they think of it?

  38. Sophie Says:

    The oils are actually good. You need your hair stripped of the stuff that gets acught up in it, no matter what. Oils are better than the chemicals… I use giovanni since it’s residue free.

  39. Pats Says:

    I’ve been using WEN Cucumber Aloe for about a year now.

    I used to have a real problem with dry hair & my bright red haircolour fading terribly after just a few washings, courtesy of the dreaded SLS in shampoo. I tried all sorts of brands of “colour maintaining” shampoos, with pretty much the same result.

    However, the WEN, together with using only lukewarm water to wash my hair, has been simply amazing! My red hair stays nice & vibrant, and silky soft. I did have to get used to the different method for WEN, since it requires more work and time than your standard shampoo that you essentially dump on your head, move around a bit, then quickly rinse out.

    With WEN, you need to brush your hair before you wet it, then run water through it & scrub to loosen the dirt from your hair & scalp. Add the required pumps of WEN (more than you’d use for shampoo), work it through your hair for a couple of minutes, then pile your hair on top of your head & finish your shower or bath. After about 10 minutes or so, add water, & thoroughly rinse for at least 2 minutes. If necessary, you can add another pump of WEN as a leave-in conditioner, but I’ve never had to.

    There are different formulas, depending on your hair & scalp condition, though Sweet Almond Mint is the generic one. Some formulas contain menthol or tea tree oil, so if you’re especially sensitive to these ingredients, you may want to avoid them.

    I buy my WEN from QVC. Their website sells all formulas, in various sizes & combinations, and I feel safer ordering from them than from the company that does the infomercials.

    The ingredients in the generic Sweet Almond Mint cleansing conditioner are: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Bark Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Wheat, Protein, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Polysorbate 60, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Amodimethicone, Citric Acid, Menthol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance (Parfum, Limonene)

  40. LYN Says:

    Can someone recomend a good shampoo for fine hair I have been told that silicone free is best please tell me

  41. W DANCER Says:

    I never really thought about that companies were using bad products in shampoo till I purchased Suave shampoo and it burned the holy ghost out of me. I just was naive as to the ingredients in these shampoos. I went back to basics and used my home products which are chemical free and natural.

  42. Anna Says:

    Why are those natural ingredients bad for your hair? Are they irritants or do they strip the hair too much? Just wondering…

  43. rita Says:

    i put high lights in my hiar then wanted a purm right after my hair stylist siad NO WAY I WONT TOUCH IT TO DO THAT IT WILL FRIY YOUR HAIR so i went to a nother solon and got a purm it F.%$#ed my hair up it was dry and kinda course lol …i tred almost every thing in the stores but no deep condutioner worked so i thought im going to resarch about how to get healthy hair ….
    IT STARTS AT THE SCALPE i bought this product called WEN by chass dean it was $29.99 for a one month supples of it i really recomed this product it really works my hair was so soft the next day. my hair still had a little frizzy but nothing like befor i love it and the key is to massage your scalp as u use it ..CONS TO THE PRODUCT you only get a 16oz. bottle of it and with 16-24 pumps it so by fast iv had mine for about 4 days now and its haulf gone i use only 8 pumps for my scalp and 8 for the middle ,then 8 for my ends..ANOTHER KEY IS THAT THE ONLY WAY TO GET REALLY HEALTHY HIR IS TO KEEP CUTTING IT AS IT GROSS….ASLO try just using conditioners and shampoo like two times a week..if any thing use tressamee they got the best stor shampoo out there …

  44. jod9 Says:

    hey, i am a stylist and very much recommend products ONLY sold in salons…buying elsewhere is DIVERSION and blackmarket and NOT quality guaranteed! as for using drugstore baby shampoos on adult hair…the pH of a baby shampoo is the same as tears at a 7 pH…which is why it is balanced to your that pH, however the pH of your hair is between 4.5 & 5.5 so a baby shampoo is actually TOO HARSH and will STRIP COLOR $$$. also when a child reaches about the age of 7, their hair is fully keratinized and they should be using an adult shampoo to prevent tangles and maintain health!! ask a stylist to recommend a shampoo catered to your hair type ie, dry damaged, colored/ fine or limp…maybe even let them get a hands on approach and TOUCH your hair…i find it really helps. it is usually only about $20 to go into a salon for a professional BLOWOUT which usually includes 2 shampoo treatments…the first shampoo (preferably a clarifier) cleanses your hair and the second (depepending on condition and texture/density) cleans your scalp! followed by a conditioner with a nice scalp massage and a wonderful shiny blowout for the weekend with styling tips along the way and recommendation for at home maintenance…youre worth it, put your trust into the hands of a professional and ENJOY!!! i recommend redken hair cleansing cream once a week for at home and always do two shampoos back to back! thermal protectants when heat styling are uber important as well to avoid further damage! good luck!!

  45. nathan Says:

    What are the good products? if i use silk elements will that be ok?

  46. Irish Says:

    Would like to know your thoughts on Ojon hair products. They claim to use a special oil that only they have rights to from a tribe in Central America called Tawira – “The People of Beautiful Hair.” I know we are to stay away from ALS and SLS but what about Magnesium Laureth Sulfate?

  47. anna Says:

    Hi jeni
    first of all great website! really good and informative.
    Since i read your website i’m trying to be careful what shampoos to buy and conditioners. My hair is been falling a lot and i’m quite worried. I purchase today a palmolive shampoo and the ingredients are: aqua,sodium c12-13, pareth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium chloride, sodium benzoate, parfum, glycol distearate, sodium salicylate, polyquaternium-7, citric acid, styrene/acrylate, copolymer, tetrasodium edta, laureth-4, lactose, methylisothizolinone, lactis proteinum, mel, benzyl,benzoate, benzyl salicylate,butylphenyl methylpropional, citronellol, hexyl cinnamal, linalool. Do you think it makes ok to use it?, or it is any bad ingredient in it?
    thank you very much

  48. Lee Says:

    You reference Paula Begoun quite a bit in this blog, so I would like to point out for the benefit of your readers that Paula highly recommends quite a few drug store brands that you place on your so-called “bad” list.

    The following drugstore brands are given a “VERY GOOD” rating (the highest rating she gives for shampoos) on Paula’s Beautypedia site: DOVE, PANTENE, and GARNIER. She also gives Suave’s Clarifying shampoo an excellent rating. Here’s the link to download in teh article: , in which she states that, “Whether you wash with the practically-free Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo, for Normal to Oily Hair ($1.29 for 15 ounces) or use White Rain Extra Body Shampoo ($1.32 for 15 ounces), your hair won’t know you didn’t spend several more dollars for Frederic Fekkai Technician Shampoo for Normal Hair ($18.50 for 8 ounces). All of these shampoos will cleanse hair and scalp beautifully and do not cause buildup. They’re also great for removing excess buildup from conditioning shampoos and styling products.”

  49. laura Says:

    Why are these ingredients meant to be avoided? the last time I checked all natural ingredients are better.

  50. Lorraine Says:

    I am allergic to Balsam of Peru. Horrible! Gotto read ingredients of every item I buy or suffer the consequences.
    Most Doctors and Specialists have never heard of this allergy. Can you believe it? I must admit, neither have I, untill I was diagnosed by a Dermatologist (after seeing 3 other Dermatologists in a span of 7 years). She did a patch test on my back.
    Google Balsam of Peru allergy and you will see what I mean.
    The key ingredients that I have to watch out for: Benzoate, Benzoil, Citric Acid, Cinnamon, Citrus Peel.
    You will not believe how many products have BENZOATE in it. The WORST ingredient EVER!!! It should be banned!
    Currently, I am trying the latest Aveeno shampoo and conditioner. Still getting big sores on my scalp, but now I have to figure out if it is the Shampoo or the Calia Organice Hairspray that I’m using.
    ANYBODY got a comment of TRESemme?

  51. Sara Says:

    Using Sulfate ingredients on your hair will damage your hair ..Why do you think MOST people have split ends? obviously its because we are 90% of shampoos and conditioners carry sulfate and other chemicals your hair doesn’t need. I just start using Hair One, from Salley’s Hair supply store. I think it’s awesome.. It makes your scalp feel amazing and all those products are SULFATE FREE which is good.. Nature is not out to hurt you so why use all these man-made products that can? My hair use to be down my back when I was growing up until I used all those chemical shampoos will sulfate and other harmful products that stripped away my hair. I still have long hair and growing it back but I’ve learned my lesson to stick to organic shampoo and moisturizers that won’t make your hair oily, dirty , and flaky..Also look for products that carry cartoene..very very good for your hair…

  52. Shelley Says:

    I have been using Pantene Hair shampoo and conditioner for nearly 20 years. And I will keep using it. They work great for me! I’ve also tried the more expensive salon brand, however, my hair likes Pantene better. It really makes my hair shinny and manageable. I have thick hair and long hair. I often receive compliments on my hair. I really don’t think there is wrong in those Pantene products!

  53. sra Says:

    what about dandruff shampoos? do you know of any that avoid these items on your list?

  54. Amy Says:

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about, with being scared of detergents in shampoo. All they do is clean. I tried some of the “natural” shampoos and never felt like my hair was totally clean. I’ve also tried a lot of salon brands, and still end up going back to Walmart for my beloved Prell, which I’m sure any stylist would say is highly damaging. It works fine for me. My skin also likes it. I let the suds fall over me, and there you go: instant body wash. I do like Nature’s Gate Rainwater Tea Tree Oil Conditioner and a Vitamin C one from a salon that I don’t even use every day.
    That’s just my two cents. I’m not a chemist or stylist, only a consumer. I don’t feel like I’m being hurt by the sulfates in shampoo.

  55. safsd Says:

    Sarah my mother went to beauty school for hair, nails, and whatever elseand they said the exact same thing about PANTENE Products and they went to scrap off her hair from the wax and they could find any wax what so ever, maybe she was using the pantene products incorrectly or she had a naturally greassy head and needed something that would clean her hair more intensely.

  56. Rosetta Says:

    I have a question about Sodium Methosulfate in shampoos. If someone is allergic to sulfur/sulfa…does Sodium Methosulfate fall in the “allergic to sulfur” catagory?
    Thank you…

  57. Patty Says:

    Okay ladies, I have some news!… I have wavy, long hair and non- acne prone skin. I say non- acne prone because my face is very sensitive but I don’t have acne. I am vanishing natural hair products altogether. Apparently, there are a lot of oils and extracts in natural shampoos and conditioners. After washing and conditioning my hair the oils would seep into my skin around my fore head and neck causing the most horrid cysts. I would let my hair air dry and go the worst break outs on my chest, neck and shoulders. Again, I have sensitive skin, but not acne prone skin. The ends of my hair had gotten very dry and my scalp remained oily no matter what natural stuff I used. I now use joico body luxe shampoo and conditioner just because there are no oils in them. I have always used purpose face cleanser which is mild and can use it on my eyes because it doesn’t sting and washes waterproof mascara of in a flash. My skin is FINALLY back to normal. All people are different. For me, it was not the sulfates in the shampoos and conditioners, it was the oils and extracts. I believe as an individual you must pinpoint which extracts you can use. For me I have to only stick with nothing other than tea tree oil, keratin, silk amino acids, and oat. Seems like everything else will destroy my precious skin.

  58. Margie Says:

    I need help! A friend of mine told me to stop using Pantene because I told her that my scalp hurts when I touch it. She said that I need to switch. The problem is that I don’t know what brand to buy. I have been using Pantene for the last 9 years. Please give me some advice. Thanks. Margie

  59. Amy Says:

    Hey Margie,

    I’ve heard bad things about Pantene in general, but of course, I like to try on my own. I did, a few times, and each time I tossed the bottle. Pantene, in my small opinion, blows. This is what I have in my shower: a tea tree shampoo from the salon, a purple one for highlites, Suave for off-days (I don’t love it) and Prell, like I said before in an earlier post. I use Prell as a shampoo and body wash, and shaver. It rocks. It has no conditioners in it, so you shouldn’t worry about oils with this little goldmine. I don’t use it every day but on clarifying days, it works wonders. I also notice my scalp and skin feel really clean. Like I also said before, I’m not a chemist, so I can’t tell you if you have any specific allergies. But this shampoo is a bare-bones, no-frills cleansing agent. Maybe your skin needs to be cleared of impurities. Tea tree oil conditioners and shampoos help this too. Prell costs about $2 or $3 so if you don’t like it, you can toss the bottle like I did Pantene. I think, though, you might find that with a few washes, your scalp will feel reasonably normal again!

  60. ifrah Says:

    well i am agree with MARGIE and AMY…. but i personally use DOVE BALANCE THERAPY….. its rocks

  61. ifrah Says:

    Are split ends due to sulfate and other chemicals that hair does;nt need?????

  62. Joanna Says:

    This website has given me so many ideas on how to treat my hair. As well, I am using this as a source for a project in my chemistry class. I was going to do somehitng totally different but saw this and how much information there was I could use and I knew this was the paper I had to write
    thank you so much!
    you saved my life/grade!

  63. Curly Sue Says:

    Thank you very much for the information!!!

  64. Varun Says:

    hey, ive been experiencing first instances of hairfall and have advised Dove ZPTO but finding it rather hard to find, firstly is it new as such, secondly ive been advised this by a tricologist…so would it be safe enough to go ahead. Thirdly how safe is it and is it easily available in the neighbourhood pharma. Also i have been advised to use Candid tv for i am not sue about the ingredients on these but are they safe from harsh ingredients.??? Do feel free to advise

  65. Rabi Isah Says:

    Hello, friend, please I need your advice to know the good indredients that is good for making sahmpoo without any side effect and also conditional, all for sell.

    I look forward to here from you soon.
    Do that to save me from contributing harm to the masses in the name of making money.

  66. Linja Says:

    Interesting post and discussion. I can’t find my old favorite shampoo any more so am looking for a new one that doesn’t leave my hair frizzy or too heavy. I am allergic to aloe and wheat which rules out some of the natural brands. Also I have had reactions to tea tree and some other essential oils.

  67. clare Says:

    my hair is falling out and I’ve been facing this problem for a long time. I have change my shampoo twice a year or three times a year… now i am using pantene hair fall control but the result is ‘zero’. how could i be free from this problem?

  68. LALA Says:

    hey guys, can anyone help me decide what shampoo/conditioner i should use?
    my hair has been dyed many time, and recently ive just dyed it black to grow back my natural hair. (after showers) if i was to leave it dry by itself, it’ll usually go kinda frizzy/dry.
    i’m currently using herbal essences, and usually when its out i use fruitis and pantene for backup until i have time to buy herbal essences again.
    firstly, is it bad to use other shampoo for back up? should i be only using one?
    secondly, can you guys help figure out a shampoo that could make my hair healthy looking again without the bad ingredients.
    that is all, thankyou.

  69. julie Says:

    is white rain bad because my hair is always dry and is different from most girls in school my aunt works at lemon blossom salon and she wants me to get $200 modeling cream to help some one help me

  70. amy Says:

    I went onto another site entitled “The Pantene Myth,” or something like that. If you google Pantene and myth, you will see it. There are as many consumers loving this brand as there are stylists bashing it. I guess it all depends on your hair. Everyone’s is different. It’s like that with skin, too. Some people need special body washes because of extreme dryness. Others, like me, don’t. But google that site if you want to hear some funny things from both camps.
    Lala, it’s not bad to have a back-up shampoo. It’s probably a good idea, because they say products build up, especially the shampoos with conditioners in them. Pantene is one, if you check the ingredients. White Rain and Prell have fewer, which is probably why they’re called on for clarifying.
    Julie, don’t spend $200! Please? If you really want something, get a mousse or styling gel at the store. If you have dry hair, try either a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner or a leave-in conditioner too. But please, don’t spend that much money. Is your aunt willing to pay, or will your parents?? Yikes.
    Try this: Prell shampoo + Kiss My Face Whenever conditioner, or Kiss My Face Mistreated Conditioner. Kiss My Face has natural ingredients that make my hair super soft. The old-school Prell–from before I was even freaking born–is my go-to shampoo. It will take the gunk off your hair but then if you try the Kiss My Face conditioner, the good stuff will get put back in your hair. If these don’t work, I’m sorry. I can only tell you what works for me. You will spend nothing close to $200, promise.

  71. Kevin In Texas Says:

    Losing hair is a sign of poor thyroid and lack of thyroid hormone.. Have this checked and you can use whatever shampoo you like..

    go to homeopathic doctor that understand thyroid is larger then TSH

  72. DeeDee Says:

    Hair loss can be for many reasons. Harsh detergents in shampoos are known to cause hair loss as well as stress. There are lots of reasons why people lose hair.

    I personally use Ojon products because they have been the best thing for my dry hair. The sulfate they use is very gentle and I don’t have a flaky, dry scalp like I used to and my hair is soft, shiny and the best its ever looked.

  73. CrunkChica Says:

    Thanks for the advice on what chemicals to avoid. I was just interested though in the natural ingredients that you listed to avoid. I am an Herbalist and my husband is a Nurse Practitioner as well as a Naturopathic Doctor and we have studied those ingredients and have had amazing results with shampoo’s and other haircare products that contain many of the things listed above on the “do not use” list for natural ingredients. They are an amazing alternative for healthy and chemical free hair.

  74. priya Says:

    Is Garnier Kids a good shampoo with less chemicals? Is it good for adults also? :-) :-)

  75. Kate Says:

    There are a number of “bad” ingredients that you have not listed here, such as “cones”, (like dimethicone) which are synthetic, and derived from silica using petrochemicals. Also “fragrance” ,which could be any number of 5000 different chemicals, none of which have to be listed on the label.

    I’m not sure I agree with some of the natural products that you say should be avoided. Unless a person has allergy issues with that particular ingredient, how does avocado for example, which is rich in natural oils and incredibly moisterising, possibly harm your hair or scalp? I would choose avocado over a man-made synthetic ingredient, any day.

    Also, perhaps you could mention that surfactants, which make the product foam, strip oil from the hair. Our hair then over-produces oil to make up for the oil that has been stripped away.

    WHen people change over to an all-natural product (as in, those that are genuinely all-natural, NOT those who say they are natural on the front, but are really not) they think the all-natural product doesn’t work because their hair still feels oily. It’s not that the all-natural product doesn’t work, it’s just that their hair is used to over-producing oil. It can take a couple of months for oil production to settle down to normal levels.

    And one more thing…scientists have proven that ingredients in our personal care products do absorb into the bloodstream, they CAN end up in our vital organs, and they do cross the placenta into unborn children. Think very carefully about what you use on your body. If you wouldn’t eat it, then you shouldn’t be using it on your skin…

  76. pitbullchick Says:

    i found a shampoo that doesnt have any harsh chemical like sls or cocamide. its burts bees baby line,baby bee shampoo n wash. and also paul mitchell smoothing super skinny. shampoo.

  77. tw Says:

    Something that many people are not aware of… Formaldehyde is the chemical used to embalm dead bodies. It is also used in many consumer products as a preservative and called various names that are formaldehyde releases. I’ve had a problem for years trying to find products “without”. An allergy occurs due to frequent or prolonged exposure to these chemicals; quaternium, polyquaternium, imidiazoldynl, diazoldynal, DMDM hydantoin & Methylchloroisothiazolinone abbreviated(MCI/MI) . It doesnt matter whether it’s in makeup that stays on the skin or in products that are sinsed off, such as hair products to hand soap. The reaction will cause irritation around my eyes. Dry, flakey, itchy and even red, as if i have pink eyeshadow on. You’d be surprised what you can learn by doing a google search on formaldehyde.
    I’m finely having a little better luck finding makeup without it, but still have a hard time finding shampoo and conditioner without it.

  78. Ria Says:

    In the list of ingredients to stay away from one is Sage, but then you say before that that you buy Back To Basics Citrus Clarifying Sage Shampoo? Which is correct?

  79. syndrome666 Says:

    Personally I’d stay away from shampoos with a ton of ingredients, half of which are chemicals, i.e. Tresseme, Garnier Fructise, Pantene, Pert plus, etc. Surprisingly Aussie seems to work for me fairly well, JASON is another superb brand which is made from mainly natural ingrediants and contains none of the “extreme” detergents. As someone mentioned, no one shampoo/conditioner is good to use forever. pH levels are really what may cause scalp irritation, detergents may promote the irritation, but there really isn’t any full evidence that they in fact do cause irritation. I just switched to Aussie volume and all dandruff and itchiness went away after the first shower. Others claim Aussie’s horrible for their scalp. Again as I said before, no one shampoo/conditioner brand will fix the problem, your scalp will eventually adapt to the pH levels of the shampoo brand along with its chemical composition and do absolutely nothing for you, so switching off between some of the less harsher formulated shampoos/conditioners is recommended every other week or whatever works for you, but do not use the same thing for months and months until you start to notice how inneffective it is becoming. Paul Mitchel did wonders for me at first, but after a few months, dandruff and itchiness returned, tried tresseme, seemed to have fixed the problem, same thing happened after a few months, Switched to Fructis, didn’t do anything, guess it’s chemical composition is similar to Tresseme’s, Pantene was even worse after someone recommended that, VO5 was horrible, Head and Shoulders again after giving up on it for years, did not help at all. Tried a more natural approach, JASON shampoo/conditioner, now that one did the trick, dandruff begone, but my curiosity didn’t stop there, since they proudly support the no Lauryl Sulfate idea, I started looking at ingredients of shampoos that do not contain it, and Aussie happened to be another one that didn’t, although it does contain some other chemicals that I’m not sure about, but it certainly does contain only about half of the chemicals listed on Fructis’s, Pantene’s, and Tresseme’s shampoos/conditioners, so maybe Aussie is a bit gentler to the scalp? don’t know much about chemistry, but what I assume is that its pH level must be under a 7-14 which makes it more of a basic consistency, usually acidic stuff causes or promotes irritation to sensitive skin, but again I’m not a good reference to go by, just giving some suggestions from my personal experience. Oh and the natural ingredients can’t really harm you, don’t know where this info on them being “bad” came from. Both Aussie and JASON contain a good portion of some of those natural ingredients.

  80. syndrome666 Says:

    **correction** meant to say …”pH level must be between 7 to 14″

  81. priya2907 Says:

    can someone tell me about the bodyshop Banana Shampoo…….

  82. Paulo Says:

    pH of shampoo should be around 5.5, the same of hair and skin.
    Stick to mostly organic and natural products, as most as possible.

    Look for some at
    Look how to make natural shampoo at home at

  83. anonymous Says:

    i should advise wen good for all hair types

  84. Arielle Says:

    I’m just wondering where you got your information that the essential oils you listed for the hair were bad, I’ve been to numerous sites and all but yours says that they have a good effect on the hair, i’m not sure exacly what you ment by those things, like if you ment essential oils or what. I know that avacado is excellent for moisture and peppermint can help the blood flow in your scal and stimulate hair grows, you should take a look at this site she lists all the ingreditents and if their bad or good, I just feel like your giving some misleading information that’s all.

  85. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Thanks for telling me about that Tightly Curly site. That site actually says mostly the same thing about the ingredients as I do – peppermint can be irritating to the scalp, for example.

  86. hattie Says:

    Is heads and shoulders ok? i started using it about amonth ago evry couple of day and it good rid of my dandruf but my hair feels dry and my scalp is itchy. can you reccomend another anti-dandruf shampoo for me please? i have long hair thick hair down to my waist. I need help!

  87. Ashlee Says:

    I have tried lots of shampoos and they all do the same! My hair frizzes and scalp is itchy. But recently I started using Baby shampoo instead, seems pretty good at the moment Also at least once to twice a week I use a home made shampoo with about 4 teaspoons of castile soap, 1 cup of water that I soaked rosemary leaves, crushed lavender and nettle leaves in (obviously strain the herbs out first!) some jojoba oil and some rose essential oil. It’s more of a rinse really but leaves it really soft and smells awesome! It feels a little soapy after it dries but personally I don’t mind! Hope that helps

  88. Cindy Says:

    I tried baking soda and water.1 cup water and 1 tablespoon baking soda for a hair wash.Shake bottle before using.Makes enough for one usage.Hair rince is 1 cup of water and 1 cup of apple sider vinagar.It’s all natural.The vinagar is not as strong as white vinagar and does not burn scalp like white vinagar.Web site has lots of things to try also.Shampoos,con,making your own loations ect.I did try making my own shamoo from this site and it was costly$40 to buy all my ingred.and my dauter who is 24 did not like it.Plus the shampoo has to be refridgerated.

  89. Al Says:

    I’ve been suffering from hair loss, so much that im getting bald. as a teenager i used to have pretty thick hair, im only 21 and have very thin hair and feel that im balding. its embarrasing and diffucult to cope up with. sometimes i spend hours crying after washing my hair with shampoo. i tried pantene to jhonsons baby to sunsilk, no improvement. Please help me I do not want to go bald.

  90. ho Says:

    I’ve been suffering from hair loss, so much that im getting bald. as a teenager i used to have pretty thick hair, im only 21 and have very thin hair and feel that im balding. its embarrasing and diffucult to cope up with. sometimes i spend hours crying after washing my hair with shampoo. i tried pantene to jhonsons baby to sunsilk, no improvement. Please help me I do not want to go bald.

  91. Erika Says:

    White vinegar and apple cider vinegar are both 5% acetic acid. One tastes less vinegary than the other, but one is not stronger than the other.

    Just because something is natural does not make it good for you. Mother Nature is very good at making things that can harm you. The reason tea tree oil and peppermint oil, etc. are not recommended is that they can really irritate the scalp.

  92. Mario Says:

    fine. I will use only plain water only then.

  93. Sofia S. Says:

    @ Al:

    I can only imagine how awful it would feel to have your hair thin at such a young age. Please see a good dermatologist or other doctor that can help you with this problem. A good doctor can help identify the causes for your hair loss and discuss where to go from there. Hair products you buy on your own can only do so much and most likely will not truly provide a solution to hair loss. Hope you make an appointment soon! Good luck! =)

  94. Jessamyn Says:

    Okay, i have been researching all the chemicals in different shampoos and which ones to stay away from. Well for the longest time, I’ve been using V05; after reading this article I went to look at the ingredients in that bottle of shampoo. I found out that its mostly made out of water and sodium laureth sulfate. My hair used to be really frizzy and dry when I was using Pert so I then switched to Vo5 thinking that this might be better. Well now my hair tends to get very oily and just…disgusting. I’m trying to figure out which non-expensive shampoos to switch too that might be healthier, Any ideas?

  95. Nancy Says:

    I have been doing research and I have seen positive comments for this website
    Aubrey Organics shampoos no sulfate and all that bad stuff ingredients and I am going to try it but I saw one ingredient I didn’t like and it had ( balm mint ) because this website listed as balm mint ingredients to avoid? So would be okay if I still use the shampoo by this just one bad ingredient because it is sulfate free and no sodium as well

    write back soon please thanks :)

  96. Vick Says:

    Shampoo ingredients like so many other products that we humans use on ourself and our pets are near impossible to pronounce and makes me wonder: why and what for.
    If I am to be total honest I recall in my youth using bar soap to wash my hair. My second love embarrassed me or better yet shamed me into “thinking about what you put in an on your body” I immediately noticed a difference to the quality of my thick as a rug hair. I also noticed that if I changed shampoo’s between washing that my hair responded much better than if I used just one product. She, BTW used only Johnson’s baby shampoo. She too had find blonde hair where I had thick dark wavy hair.
    I passed the age where men start losing their hair and figured that I was good for life with thick full head of hair. I was however turning silver/white early on. ( my first white hair appearing at around 11 yo when I started plucking them out until a girl told me how “distinguished” I looked.
    To say: ” to make a long story shor t” at this point in my story is funny because it is already a long story but my main point is about the SLA “lauryl” in any form ingrediant. I read that it is a major contributor to thining hair and losing hair. When I started looking for a hair product that didn’t have it I couldn’t find one; even Johnsons baby shampoo has some ( in a way surprising me because on some sites it talks about it burning the eye’s and being a major irritant to most people.
    The whoa factor. Last week I was looking for a “green” safe product to control bugs on my eatable plants. “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate” is that main ingrediant in “green” bug killers.
    Who would/could know that if not for sites like this and a few others that I have found that made me realize that I don’t need nor want bug killer on my head.

    PS I did find a store brand of baby shampoo that has no version of lauryl anything in it.

    If anyone knows of other shamppo’s by name that leaves that bug killing stuff out let us know!

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