Harmful ingredients in Beauty Products
Find out what to look for, where to look for it and what it means for your health.
Sulphate in Shampoo
Sulphates can strip natural oils from the scalp and hair. That can make hair dry and brittle. And if your scalp is sensitive, sulfates can cause irritation like redness, dryness, and itching.
Silicone in Shampoo
Silicone or alcohol-based products may not come with the same health risks as many of the other hair products that made the list. But they’re certainly bad for the health of your hair. Silicone products create the illusion of healthy hair by imparting shine while drying out your hair by preventing the ingredients in your conditioner from penetrating. And alcohol-based products are similarly drying — not good when it comes to styling your hair. As experts tell The Coveteur, the lack of moisture caused by silicones can make your hair brittle, which can lead to frizz and breakage.
Fragrance in Hair Care Products
Though it’s one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in hair products, fragrance is actually an ingredient you want to avoid when possible. A product that lists “fragrance” as an ingredient could be talking about thousands of different, separate ingredients, so it’s impossible to tell whether that includes something that you may be allergic or sensitive to. Federal law doesn’t require companies to list any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture. Research from the EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals not listed on the label in 17 name-brand fragrance products. Even worse is the fact that fragrances can contain hormone disruptors, and are among the top five allergens in the world. If you can opt for fragrance-free hair products, it’s a good idea.
Sulfates for Hair
Ever wondered why shampoo quickly turns into foam when mixed with water? The answer, for many supermarket shampoos, is the inclusion of chemical foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium dodecyl sulfate.
Known as sulfates, these ingredients help shampoo mix into water, creating the foamy texture you get when you massage shampoo into your hair and scalp. Sulfates are commonly found in mass market shampoos, including most of the brands you’ll find in your local supermarket.
At low concentrations, sulfates are considered safe to use. However, frequent use of products with a high concentration of sulfates has been linked to cell damage and excess stripping away of natural oils and hair proteins.
From a hair care perspective, this definitely isn’t a good thing. In this guide, we’ll look at how the most commonly used shampoo sulfates can affect your hair, as well as the key reasons why you should avoid shampoos that contain chemical sulfates.
Sulfates and Hair Protein Removal
Hair is made of protein — in fact, hair itself is a protein filament. About 91 percent of each of your hair fibers is protein, along with numerous other nutrients. When the protein that makes up each of your hairs is damaged, it can weaken the hair, affecting its strength and appearance.
Sulfates are closely linked with damage to hair protein. In fact, one study from 2005 shows that hair immersed in a sodium dodecyl sulfate solution loses seven times as much protein as hair immersed in water. This can lead to split ends, breakage, and hair that is difficult to manage.
Because of this, sulfates are best avoided if you want to optimize your hair’s health, appearance and strength.