14 Ingredients To Avoid In Shampoo [& What To Use Instead]
The shampoo you’re using could be damaging your hair and scalp while it cleans. Take a look at the 14 ingredients you should try to avoid when picking out your shampoo.
1. Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Sulfates are bad ingredients in shampoo that damage your hair, making it brittle, frizzy, and easy to break.
2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate creates a lathering foam you might love, but it can damage follicles if you leave it in for too long. It can also strip your hair of natural oils. And though SLS is a more mild form of SLES, it is still not healthy for your hair.
3. Parabens (butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, and isobutylparaben)
Parabens are shampoo ingredients that act as a microbial tool to keep your shampoo fresh. The main downside is that they can damage your scalp. They may also absorb through the skin and scalp and can have estrogen-like properties.
4. Polyethylene Glycols (PEG)
PEG thickens shampoos. While PEG aren’t themselves toxic, there are some common byproducts in PEG that can be harmful.
5. Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA is an emulsifier that helps make foam and bubbles in your shampoo. It is also used to reduce the pH of your shampoo to make it less acidic. While DEA is considered a safe product for humans, there have been reports showing that it is harmful to animals. Just to be safe, it’s a good idea to avoid DEA in your shampoo.
6. Triethanolamine (TEA)
Just like DEA, TEA is used to help your shampoo create foamy bubbles. The downside to it is that it is harsh on the skin and scalp, which can leave your hair brittle and dried out.
Formaldehyde (sometimes seen in shampoos as quaternium-15) can help preserve your shampoo, but it is also a known human carcinogen.
Any type of alcohol in your shampoo will dry out and strip your hair of any protective natural oils it has. Keep an eye out for isopropyl or propanol to avoid damaging your hair.
9. Synthetic Fragrances
Having a shampoo that makes your hair smells like strawberries or piña colada might seem great, but even one synthetic fragrance can come with hundreds of hidden chemicals. With each additional chemical, you put yourself at risk for one of them irritating your skin or scalp or damaging your hair.
10. Synthetic Colors
The color in shampoo does nothing more than make your shampoo look appealing. The color does nothing for your hair. Some colors can come from petroleum or coal-tar sources, which can carry some harmful health effects. When it comes to your shampoo, you should only be putting in your hair what you need and exclude everything else.
Dimethicone is a silicone that is sometimes used in two-in-one shampoo and conditioners. It coats your hair, making it easy to brush and giving it a nice shine, but it can attract dirt and pollutants, which can leave your hair feeling weighed down.
12. Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Cocamidopropyl betaine is natural and derived from coconut oil, but just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s healthy for your hair. This is often used along with dimethylaminopropylamine to help boost the foam in your shampoo, which can trigger skin irritation and dryness, putting your hair’s health and strength at risk.
In 2016 triclosan was banned in antibacterial soaps—when it’s exposed to the skin, it can cause dermatitis and skin irritation. However, some shampoos still include it on their ingredient list. If it’s bad enough to get banned in hand soap and hasn’t been proven by the FDA as safe and effective, you should not be using it on your head.
14. Retinyl Palmitate
In some shampoos, retinyl palmitate is used to enhance the appearance and feel of hair. It can help improve your hair’s body and sheen, but it comes at a cost. Too much retinyl palmitate can lead to liver damage, brittle nails, and hair loss.
What Type of Shampoo Should You Use?
Most shampoos you can buy are gel shampoos, and while these thick shampoos are the most common, they aren’t the best for your hair. Instead of weighing your hair down with extra cleaner and even clogging your pores in your scalp, choose a foam shampoo. Foam shampoo causes less friction in your hair which lowers the risk of pulling or breaking your hair while keeping your scalp’s pores and hair clean.
What Your Shampoo Should Have in It
Your shampoo should be able to clean your hair from dirt and grime without putting it at risk of becoming damaged. Instead of harsh chemicals, the ingredients in your shampoo should be gentle cleansing agents like natural oils, plant extracts, vitamins, keratin, and proteins. If there are any scents or fragrances, they should only come from organic essential oils. Fortero shampoos are perfect for keeping your scalp and hair clean from buildup and residue without causing damage.