5 toxic ingredients in shampoo
5 toxic ingredients in shampoo

People Are Ditching Their Shampoos With These 5 Toxic Ingredients

We love our hair looking great and arguably nothing is worse than a bad hair day. Foamy bubbles have become a part of our daily routine and they seem innocent enough. However, most shampoos contain more than bubbles. The price of your hair looking great shouldn’t be your health. Here are five ingredients you want to avoid when buying your next shampoo.

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS/SLES)


Sulfates have become a very common ingredient in many beauty products, including your shampoo. They are detergents and surfactancts, mainly designed for the glorious purpose of… making bubbles. However, sulfates can irritate your skin, hair and eyes. Often even produce severe chemical allergic reactions. Also, they have the ability to strip your hair of essential oils that it needs to be healthy. [1]

Linked to: skin irritation, allergic reactions.

2. Dioxane

Dioxane is another chemical used as a solvent and as a laboratory reagent. Short term exposure has been linked to eye and nose irritation. While in high doses (even short term) it can cause severe kidney and liver effects and even death. Reportedly, even having skin contact, long-term it may effect your kidneys and liver. To top it all off, 1,4-dioxane has been linked to cancer. This ingredient has been banned/found unsafe for cosmetics in Canada. [2]

Linked to: irritation, kidney and liver damage, cancer.

3. Parabens

You’ve certainly heard of them by now, as they made a splash in the beauty industry and not in a good way. They are the most widely used preservatives in your beauty products and personal care. Their names are often something like isobutylparaben or methylparaben, enough to give you a headache trying to even pronounce them. While the FDA says there’s little to be concerned about when it comes to parabens [3], there’s still some widely spread concern about these preservatives. The concern is that parabens mimic estrogen and estrogen disruption has been linked to breast cancer. While parabens have not been directly proven to cause cancer, there are serious concerns on the effects of long term exposure to these preservatives.

Linked to: breast cancer*.

4. Propylene Glycol

Another common ingredient found in cosmetics and personal care products. It is used as a solvent and a humectant (retains moisture). While it breaks down relatively quick and considered relatively safe, it can still cause irritation to the skin. [4] [5]

Linked to: skin and respiratory tract irritation.

5. Diethanolamine (DEA)

DEA is not the drug enforcement agency. DEA is used in shampoos as a wetting agent. It enables the shampoo to have a rich lather. By itself it may not be harmful, but through interaction with other ingredients can form a extremely potent carcinogen nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). It has been linked to liver, stomach, bladder and esophagus cancers. [6]

Linked to: cancer*.

Why Does it Matter?


Even though you don’t directly ingest the shampoo and only use it a few minutes a day, there are still very good reasons to switch to more natural shampoos. While we don’t directly ingest the shampoo (unless accidental), it can still make contact with our eyes, mouth and other areas. A lot of these chemicals have a nasty ability to enter into your lungs, liver, brain and heart. Also, those few minutes a day add up. Assuming you only use your shampoo five minutes a day, over your lifetime it adds up to 143,700 minutes. Imagine what artificial chemicals such as the ones mentioned above can do to your scalp, hair and body in that time. There are over 10,000 ingredients used in beauty products and only around 11% of them are assessed for safety by the cosmetic industry (not FDA). There’s absolutely no reason to put yourself at risk and be the laboratory animal for testing.


Just look at the ingredients for this shampoo. It looks more of a science experiment than a product that is gentle and healthy. Now take a look at your own shampoo, does it look similar?

Understand the Purpose of Shampoo


So what exactly is a shampoo supposed to do? It’s simple:

  1. Cleanse your hair (from dirt, oils, skin particles, dandruff and contaminants from the environment).
  2. Enhance the look of your hair.
  3. Make your hair more easy to manage.

Knowing this, do we really need the thousands of toxic ingredients put into shampoos? More often than not, instead of performing these three simple functions, shampoos do a lot more. They strip our air of important bacteria and oils, damage our scalps and even our health.

So when you are shopping around for your next shampoo, at the very least, try to avoid any products that contain these 5 ingredients. If you want us to make a post with healthy shampoo choices, let us know in the comments below.