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Avoid These Harmful Chemicals in Hair Washing Products

When you reach for your shampoo and conditioner you definitely don’t consider it a risk. This is part of your routine and it’s pretty much the most harmless part of your day. Unfortunately, it turns out the hair washing products you rely on are most likely full of chemicals. Below, we rounded up a list of toxic ingredients to avoid in hair products you regularly use. Find out which ingredients they are now to save your strands!

Polyethylene Glycol (PEGs)

PEGs help penetrate the skin, acting as a moisturizer and stabilizer. While this sounds like a good thing, it turns out that PEGs are often contaminated with tons of pollutants. The list includes arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, cobalt, and iron. These contaminants not only take away natural moisture but are linked to diseases such as breast cancer, leukemia, brain and nervous system cancer, bladder cancer, stomach cancer, and pancreatic cancer, as well as Hodgkin’s disease. These contaminants have been proven to interfere with nervous system development and may also cause kidney and liver organ toxicity.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

SLS is responsible for the foaming lather we’ve come to expect from our shampoo. But it turns out, it becomes contaminated in production by a toxic compound known as 1,4 dioxane. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, this is linked to negative effects in the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system and is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”


The fragrance in your hair products isn’t what you think it is. It’s not actually sweet-smelling and harmless, but can be made from about 3,100 different chemicals not listed on the label. The term “fragrance” is a way to skirt the FDA so the company does not have to list the chemicals. Aside from being linked to allergies and hormone disruption, 80% of fragrance chemicals have not been tested for safety on humans. Fragrance may also cause migraines, asthma, and chronic lung disease.


Phthalates have been linked to a host of issues from asthma to ADHD, breast cancer, obesity, and type II diabetes. They have even been linked to low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development, and male fertility issues. There are a ton of substances that share a phthalates suffix, as it’s a class of chemicals. Also known as plasticizers, this chemical makes plastics more flexible and less breakable and is also used in fragrance. It often escapes personal care labels, so the only way to test if it is in products is through laboratory testing. Trust us, you want to definitely avoid it.


Sulfates act as detergents and are present in hair washing products. They are so effective at removing dirt and oil but they can take away a little too much. Sulfates are harsh and strip away your body’s natural moisture. Of course, that’s not the only issue. Sulfates contain dioxane, which is carcinogenic and may also interfere with the kidneys.


At this point, you’ve probably seen products with the words “paraben-fee” in bold letters on many of your fave products. But what are you avoiding? Parabens are a group of chemicals that are also xenoestrogens, which means they are similar to the hormones that naturally occur in the body. However, they actually disrupt these hormones. As if that wasn’t enough, parabens have also gained a reputation as carcinogenic.


If anything on your shampoo label ends with the words “cone,” it’s a silicone. Silicones do not dissolve in water, which may give hair the appearance of shininess but in reality, it causes hair to become dull, dry, and brittle. This is because it blocks essential oils and moisture from penetrating the hair shaft. It can also cause hair to shed more easily and throw your scalp off balance. Yikes!

Need an all natural alternative? CHECK OUT these toxic-free shampoo and conditioners.

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