There are more options than ever for shampoos and hair products on today’s beauty shelves. But unfortunately, not all of those options are safe. Many can even contain harmful ingredients that can exacerbate existing hair and scalp conditions, or worse. Here are some tips for finding a safe shampoo option for your hair. (Image Credit: Pixabay)
Check for fragrance
If a shampoo that you are interested in has an associated fragrance, this is a potential red flag. This is because products that have “fragrance” on their label contain thousands of hidden chemicals. Unfortunately, there is a legal loophole that allows companies to keep certain fragrance ingredients hidden from the public in order to avoid copycats. So, many companies nest and hide harmful ingredients under this fragrance clause, so you won’t actually be able to see them by looking at the fragrance list.
At best, artificial fragrances contain drying agents that irritate the skin and scalp. At worst, some ingredients in fragranced cosmetic products can disrupt the reproductive systems of women. They can also cause cancer, asthma and a host of other serious problems.
According to the Environmental Working Group, 75 percent of products that list “fragrance” among their ingredients contains phthalates, which is an ingredient that is illegal in many countries. However, the United States is not on this list, and still permits the use of phthalates in beauty products. Your best bet to avoid these potentially dangerous ingredients is to choose an unscented shampoo.
Check the ingredients
Looking at the ingredients of a specific shampoo is the best way to make sure you are aware and okay with the substances you are putting on your skin and hair. Here are some of the main ingredients to keep an eye out for and stay away from at all costs.
Many shampoos contain Sodium Chloride, which is essentially just salt. Manufacturers add sodium chloride to shampoos to make the consistency thicker, but it carries the negative effect of making sensitive scalps dry and itchy.
Sulfates (like Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate) are very strong detergents that are often included in “for oily” shampoos, since they are great for stripping the oils from your hair. But this also means they can be excessively drying, and strip moisture from hair that it needs. These cleaning agents are so harsh they can damage the hair, make it brittle, and increase frizz. They can also cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.
Alcohol is a very common ingredient in shampoo, which can be unhelpful since most alcohols have a drying effect. The worst kind of alcohol to use on hair (and on the skin) usually contain a “prop” in their name, like Isopropyl alcohol or propanol. Another rule of thumb: the higher up in the ingredient list it appears, the more of it the product contains.
If you want to find a safe shampoo that fits your hair needs, keep these beauty tips in mind, and your beauty routine will remain healthy and happy.