When is the last time you checked the ingredients in your hair products?  While searching for the most effective shampoo and conditioner that promises a luxurious, shiny mane,  we should also be aware of potentially dangerous ingredients.

Regardless of price and quality, many well-known cosmetic brands may contain harmful additives.  Some of the most dangerous ingredients are typically used as surfactants and preservatives. Although they provide instant cleansing and moisturizing results, the long-term effects can cause dryness, hormone imbalances, skin sensitivity, and increased cancer risk.

On the bright side, many safe and affordable brands can be found at local drugstores, so you don’t need to break the bank with salon-grade or more expensive products. Here are three ingredients to avoid for healthy hair 

  • Matthew Tkocz/Unsplash
    Matthew Tkocz/Unsplash


    Sulfates are used as surfactants which are drying agents that create lather and remove oils from our hair. However, too much can cause dryness and increase skin sensitivity.

    What to look out for: 

    • Ammonium lauryl sulfate  
    • Sodium laureth sulfate  
    • Ammonium laureth sulfate  
    • Sodium trideceth sulfate
  • Niklas Hamann/Unsplash
    Niklas Hamann/Unsplash


    Cosmetic products need preservatives to prevent mold. Products using sodium benzoate as a preservative are considered safe. However, products containing parabens may increase the risk of skin cancer, breast cancer, hair loss, dryness, color fading, and irritation. 

    What to look out for:   

    • Methylparaben  
    • Isopropylparaben  
    • Ethylparaben  
    • Isobutylparaben  
    • Butylparaben  
    • Propylparaben  
  • Kolya Korzh/Unsplash
    Kolya Korzh/Unsplash


    Phthalates refer to the group of chemicals used as a binding agent or solvent. Phthalates also help increase plastic flexibility and durability. They are often called plasticizers. Some phthalates are used to help dissolve other materials. Phthalates are in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, and personal-care products. It is believed that exposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, and hormonal disruptions. Phthalates are in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays)

    Be wary of products with “fragrance” because they may contain unknown phthalates that manufacturers are not required to list on product labels.   

    What to look out for:  

    • DCP (dibutyl phthalates)  
    • DMP (dimethyl phthalate)  
    • DEP (diethyl phthalate)  
    • DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate)  
    • BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate)  
    • DBP (dibutyl phthalate)  
    • DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate)  
    • DiNP (diisononyl phthalate)  
    • DiDP (diisodecyl phthalate)  
    • DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate) 

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