If you’re looking at the most harmful ingredients in shampoo, you should know that not all the ingredients on this list are detrimental to all people. Our natural hair requires different ingredients than the products available on the beauty supply shelf.
As we gain more knowledge about natural hair, we come to realize that many of the mainstream shampoos that millions of people use every day simply don’t work for us naturals.
In this post, you’ll find the most harmful ingredients in shampoos, specifically geared toward anyone who wants to maintain their beautiful curls.
The culprits are: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. It’s heavily debated whether these ingredients are harmful to the body, but one thing is for sure: Sulfates strip natural hair of its moisture and luster, leaving it dry, brittle, and tangled.
Always choose shampoos that do not contain sulfates if you have natural hair. A product like Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curling Shampoo is an excellent choice because it doesn’t contain chemicals, and has ingredients that nourish kinky hair.
Mineral Oil and Other Petroleum-based Products
Mineral Oil and other petroleum-based ingredients are tempting because they add a lot of shine. But what happens is that they coat the hair strand with oil that is impossible to penetrate. When you can’t get anything through to the hair shaft—including water—you’ll be left with dry hair underneath.
The only way to remove petroleum-based products is by using a harsh shampoo, usually one containing sulfates. Try shea butter instead. It will coat the strand, and leave your hair nourished instead of dry.
Beauty companies are constantly trying to make their products smell good to consumers, but the way they’re doing it is sneaky. One innocent fragrance listing could contain anywhere from 1-100 chemicals within it.
Fragrance contains phthalates, which are esters of phthalic acid. Phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
To avoid fragrance, choose products that have essential oils listed for aroma. These will be far more beneficial to your hair and scalp, and they won’t be toxic.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
This chemical serves to dissolve oil and grease and works as a thickening agent in shampoo. Stripping the scalp of its natural oils is never a good idea because it lowers the immune system and leaves the skin vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infections.
Natural hair thrives on moisture, so cleansing oils away from the hair can lead to dryness and breakage. Apple Cider Vinegar makes a gentler rinsing agent and will help remove product buildup without removing natural oils.
Silicones usually come with the names Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Amodimethicone, or any other word with a “cone” in it. Silicones are good in theory because they soften hair, smooth down cuticles, and give hair the illusion of being shinier.
The problem is, they will prevent moisture from your sebum from penetrating the hair shaft, eventually leaving your hair dull and lifeless. Silicones may even lead to breakage. The only way to remove the ‘cones’ is by using a harsh sulfate shampoo. Combining sulfates and silicones will likely lead to further damage.
An easy way to avoid buying toxic, chemical-laden products is to scan the first five ingredients on the label. Are they all names you can pronounce? If not, place it back on the shelf. What’s the point in buying chemicals for your hair? Many beauty products are expensive, so you should get one that has the most helpful ingredients possible.
Kinky hair thrives on moisture. You might consider limiting the use of shampoo, and opting to do mostly co-washes.
If you’re in an area where you don’t have access to great natural hair products, try to find the ingredients and make DIY products in your kitchen instead.
Now it’s your turn to discuss. Have you found toxic ingredients in your regular shampoo? Which products and natural ingredients do you use instead?
Patrina is the founder of Naturalhairqueen.net; a blog to educate and inspire women with natural hair. Patrina just celebrated her 10-year natural hair anniversary, and achieved her goal of waist length hair. With the knowledge she has learned over the years she is dedicated to share her knowledge, and experience to educate women who wish to have moisturized, healthy natural long hair.
You can connect with Patrina on these social media platforms:
Thank you Patrina for sharing your wisdom on how to best care for our natural hair.
Take care ladies, till next time!