5 Chemicals to Avoid In Your Hair Products To Keep your Natural Hair Healthy

How often do you read every detail of the labels on your hair care products before settling on the purchase?

While working towards achieving optimum health for your hair, axing natural hair care products that are filled with toxic chemical ingredients is crucial. This way your efforts don’t contribute more trouble to both your hair and health in general.

Here is a list of 5 chemical compounds to look out for before adding any product to your shopping basket the next time you go shopping for hair products;


1. Sulphates/Sulfates

Sulfates are added to products like shampoos to help strip away the oil and dirt during washing.

Great sentiments, often terrible results.

These chemicals will have you regretting your wash days as they strip away too much moisture, leaving your hair dry and predictably unhealthy.

The dryness also leaves your scalp an irritable and very itchy mess. Nobody enjoys that.

To avoid such encounters, look out for common names like sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate.

Sulfate free sign or stamp on white background, vector illustration

2. Dimethicone

Dimethicone is added to some shampoos, leave-in treatments, conditioners and hair styling products to help reduce frizz, make hair easy to detangle and give it more sheen. Pretty much everything a naturalista could ever ask for right?

But here’s the con: unlike their “good” silicone siblings that evaporate faster (especially those that end with -siloxane), dimethicone is thicker and can build up a film around the hair cuticles. This attracts debris and dirt, leaving the hair looking dull.

Completely getting rid of this layer needs regular shampooing (maybe too regular) or the use of clarifying shampoos that contain sulfates. Both options leave your hair dry and unhealthy in the long run.

You can alternatively use the mentioned “good” siblings and avoid ingredients such as Bis-PEG- 18 methyl ether dimethyl silane, lauryl methicone copolyol, phenyltrimethicone, Silica, silicone resin, siloxysilicates and any name with dimethicone in it.


3. Parabens

Parabens are meant to inhibit microbial growth in products like scalp cleansers so as to prolong their shelf life.

However, they are able to mimic estrogen and reduce its production in a woman’s body, consequentially triggering increased cell division and the growth of tumors. This increases the risk of breast cancer and reproductive issues.

These chemicals can also easily penetrate the skin, causing damage to your scalp.

Parabens can also cause low sperm count and testicular cancer in men, and are suspected to cause early puberty in girls.

The terms to look out for are; butylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben and propylparaben.

Hair chemicals

4. Phthalates

Often loosely listed as “fragrance” on product labels, phthalates are used to enhance absorption, make fragrances last longer and as gelling agents in some shampoos.

Studies show that they may pose such dangers as insulin resistance in adolescence, interference with the hormone system, infertility, weight gain, higher risk of liver cancer among others.

In as much phthalates are harmful; they are not exactly illegal, and manufacturers don’t have to list them as their ingredients because fragrance is considered proprietary by law. This leaves us a bit in the dark.

You want your hair smelling nice, but you also do NOT want to end up with complications.

Thus, look out for ingredient names like; DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate), DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate), DBP (dibutyl phthalate), BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate), DCP (dibutyl phthalates), DMP (dimethyl phthalate), etc.

Phthalate free sign or stamp on white background, vector illustration

5. Alcohols

Alcohols like benzyl are great as they are non-volatile and can attract and hold moisture in your hair, keeping it desirably moist.

On the other hand, more volatile alcohols (used in products to shorten the time hair takes to dry) may cause the cuticle to be roughened and oil and water to be removed from the hair along with the alcohol as it evaporates, causing dryness. Such include; ethanol, SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, alcohol denat, propanol, propyl and isopropyl.

Fatty alcohols like lauryl, cetyl, myristyl, stearyl, cetearyl and behenyl, if used in excess, mix with sebum and end up making your hair look greasy. Overly greasy hair is another problem no one likes to deal with.


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