Chemicals and Additives to Avoid When Buying Shampoos
Shampoos and conditioners are staple hair products for men, women and children. These products are formulated to clean hair of dirt, dust and other debris as well as condition hair to make it look healthy, shiny and lustrous.
Such is their importance in modern life that daily personal hygiene is incomplete without using either one or both of these products.
Unfortunately, the same products used in cleaning and conditioning your crowning glory can also harm both your tresses and your scalp.
It then becomes important to read the ingredients’ labels on hair care products, look for these harmful ingredients, and avoid buying the items.
DEA, MEA and TEA
This trio of chemicals abbreviated as DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (momoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine) are variants of the same chemical. These chemicals are used to create rich, foamy and silky lather in shampoos as well as other personal care products like facial cleansers and bubble baths.
Repeated use of products with the abovementioned trio can lead to the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines and nitrates, which are absorbed via the skin and scalp. The good news is that there are stores that sell DEA-free shampoos and personal care products.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Both ingredients are abbreviated as SLS on the label. These chemicals are used as surfactants – wetting agents – in a wide variety of commercial and residential cleansers including engine degreasers, carwash soaps and garage floor cleaners. Most shampoos also have SLS to create rich and foamy lather while in use.
SLS has protein denaturing properties, which translates to higher risks for certain diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, among other dementia-related illnesses. It should be noted that these illnesses are closely associated with the aggregation of proteins in the brain.
However, a shampoo with 15% SLS can be used safely albeit with a few conditions. You should use it for just a few minutes and use it diluted with water.
Polyethelyne Glycol and Propylene Glycol
Polyethelyne glycol, which is most commonly listed as PEG, is a thickening agent in shampoos and conditioners. It has several sided effects including stripping the skin, scalp and hair of their natural moisture; causing kidney and liver damage; and irritating the nose and eyes especially inside a steamy shower.
Propylene glycol, which is commonly known as antifreeze for vehicles, is obviously used to prevent the hair care products from freezing during shipping, handling and storage. It can cause severe allergic reactions as well as alter skin structure, allow harmful chemicals to enter the bloodstream and break down protein structures. In fact, such is its toxicity that federal regulations mandate all workers handling the chemical to wear protective gear.
You may choose shampoos and conditioners based on their smell. Sadly, you are exposing your scalp and hair to harmful chemicals included in the catchall phrase of “fragrance”.
Think about this: There are as many as 4,000 distinct chemicals in the fragrance used for hair care products. These ingredients can cause headaches, skin discolorations and dizziness, among others.
Admittedly, the list is long when it comes to the harmful chemicals found in shampoos and conditioners but you can start with the abovementioned ingredients. Better yet, you can look for eco-friendly, organic and natural shampoos and conditioners just to be on the safe side.