When 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
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.
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:
Certain Essential Oils
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).