i actually use shielo's hydrate line of shampoos (which are sulfate free) to wash my hair. It doesnt have any of those harmful ingredients. I used to have the worst hair, and now I ALWAYS get complements when using the shielo shampoo. Worth the price. . .
You’ve spent years finding your perfect shampoo—that yummy-scented liquid you lather into your locks every morning to make them clean, shiny, bouncy, and beautiful. It works like a charm, so it’s got to be good for you, right?
Shockingly, no. Your favorite shampoo might do wonders amping up your hair’s volume or smoothing frizz, but it also might be putting your health at risk. The ingredients found in most products—there to create the foamy suds we love—can also be harmful, particularly after prolonged periods of use. And all that scalp-scrubbing means that those chemicals have a chance to be easily absorbed into our bodies.
Here’s the low-down on the most common ingredients in your shampoo bottle—and why you should consider making the switch to more natural products.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) /Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Both SLS and SLES are frequently used in hair products, soaps, detergents, and even toothpastes—but they’re also used to clean garage floors and car engines. Yes, your shampoo contains these ingredients in more diluted amounts, but they work on your hair by dissolving and eroding oils the same way they get rid of grease on your Honda.
According to a report by the American College of Toxicology, the strength of these ingredients could result in negative side effects for your hair over time: tangles, frizz, scalp irritation, and even hair loss. Plus, since they’re absorbed into your skin, they can cause rashes, eye irritation, hormonal imbalance, and swelling of the hands, face, and arms, too.
To prevent these side effects (beauty products are supposed to make you look better, right?), look for shampoos marked sulfate-free: they’re increasingly common and typically clearly marked.
DEA is widely used in beauty products—it provides a rich lather in shampoos and helps lotions keep a smooth consistency. By itself, it’s not dangerous. But when it’s been left unused for a long time, it can react with other ingredients and become carcinogenic.
So when you buy shampoo, make sure you know how long it has been sitting on the shelf. The industry standard is to assume products expire three years after packaging (even if the item is unopened).
We usually think of fragrances as pretty, innocuous smells—but they’re actually neither: When the word “fragrance” appears on a product label, it can mean that any of up to 4,000 separate chemical ingredients—mostly synthetic ones—are present. And most chemicals used in fragrances are derived from petroleum—compounds that can cause cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, and allergic reactions, according to research by the National Institute of Building Sciences.
So, while you might love that yummy scent—smelling apples every morning isn’t worth being exposed to harmful chemicals. Consider choosing a product that’s naturally scented or completely fragrance-free instead.
Parabens are preservatives commonly used in hair care and other cosmetics. You can recognize them on the label by names that end in “paraben,” such as methylparaben, propylparaben, benzylparaben and butylparaben. These ingredients can have an estrogen-like activity in the body, which can disrupt your endocrine system and has been linked to breast cancer.
To avoid these chemicals, look for labels marked “paraben free.” Often, sulfate-free products leave out parabens, too, but double check the label to be sure.
What Do We Do?
So, if all of these ingredients are so bad for us—how do they end up in our bathrooms?
Frighteningly, the cosmetics industry is the least regulated jurisdiction in the FDA. So it’s up to us to be knowledgeable about the products we buy and to make the choice to support non-toxic brands.
Fortunately, they’re out there—and the number of great products keeps growing. Here are some of the best all-natural products on the market. Happy—and healthy—shampooing!
Great Green Products
1. Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo
This is one of the best-smelling products I’ve ever used—and it’s free of all artificial fragrance! Better yet, it’s a bargain: Pick it up at Whole Foods for less than $7.
Another great brand you can purchase at Whole Foods for less than $10. I use this shampoo every other day—and the pomegranate and aloe juices make my hair super shiny.
I use this product on alternating days because it does such a good job cleansing my hair. The smell is energizing, and you can feel the tingly tea tree, peppermint, and eucalyptus working on your scalp. Buy it from Trader Joe’s for under $15 or purchase directly from Amazon for $13.95.
This dreamy shampoo reminds me of being in Hawaii, and its natural ingredients like quinoa protein do a great job conditioning and repairing my hair.
5. Belegenza Illustrious Shampoo
This product not only gives incredible results—it actually removes the bad effects of your conventional shampoo, like silicone and product buildup.
We love a bargain, so we’re obsessed with Blissmo, a “green Groupon” that offers daily deals up to 70% on organic and eco-friendly products. Keep your eyes peeled for deals on shampoos, beauty products, or anything else you’d like to try!