What is in Shampoo that’s so harmful to your hair?

We have all heard it time and time again, to skip the shampooing in order to keep natural oils on your head. We’ve heard sulfates are enemies, and sulfate-free shampoos are becoming more and more popular. But is skipping the suds really useful? What is in Shampoo that’s harmful to your hair and what should we try and avoid?

Why are sulfates in hair products so bad?

Start with what a sulfate is: they produce the lather in a variety of beauty products and they are detergents. (They are commonly found in shampoo, soaps and body washes).

A sulfate is what breaks up the grease and oil in one’s hair, and rinses it away. Sulfates have become so hated in shampoos because they remove natural oils, dirt and hair product residue, and can be harsh on skin, strip color and make your hair dry.

Sulfate-free products are better for people with sensitive skin. It is a common misconception that switching to a sulfate-free product will change your hair completely, but all shampoos strip the hair of natural oils, which leaves your hair drier than before. The reason many have adopted the no-shampoo method is because it adds moisture (especially to curly and long hair) and it keeps the hair overall healthier.

A common misconception is that sulfates are proven to cause cancer, but there is no direct correlation to cancer or any other health problems.

Some shampoo ingredients to avoid:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate:

They change the surface tension of water using negatively charged ions and it allows dirt and oil to stick to the cleanser before washing away. These are sulfates, which cause the shampoo to foam up. They are harsh on your hair and both sodium and ammonium lauryl sulfates cause skin and eye irritation. They are harsh chemicals, and can dry your hair too much which leads to damage and breakage.

Fragrance: (or “parfum”):

These are harsh chemicals in many shampooos that are made to resemble a natural smell. The term “fragrance” or “parfum” can indicate up to 4,000 different chemical ingredients. Acetone (nail polish remover) and Formaldehyde (a tissue preservative), ethanol, and alcohol are some of the chemical ingredients involved. All of these chemicals strip your hair of natural oils and cause damage to the hair folicle.

Propylene Glycol:

This allows the ingredients in the shampoo to penetrate into your hair shaft. It makes hair look and feel healthier at first, but after repeated and continuous use it can damage the strucutre of the hair folicle and hair overtime. (This same chemical is industrially used as anti-freeze in cars). The chemical is a petroleum by-product and cosmetic and industrial propylene glycol don’t differ all that much.

DEA – Diethanolamine, MEA and TEA

They help with the lathering effect and is used alongside other compounds such as Cocamide DEA or Lauramide DEA. It is a chemical that when combined forms nitrates and nitrosamines. When a DEA-based detergent is repeatedly applied, it can result in a major increase in liver or kidney failures.

Polyethelyne Glycol (PEG, polyethelyne, polyoxyethelyne)

It is a thickening agent that strips hair and skin of its natural moisture. It also contains 1,4 dioxane which causes liver and kidney damage according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It can also irritate the eyes and nose of people inhaling it in the shower.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene:

It is used as a preservative, and keeps the shampoo from spoiling or losing its color, but it is a skin and eye irritant.

Stearalkonium Chloride:

Used as a conditioning agent, which started as a clothing fabric softener, causes toxic allergic reactions on people when exposed to your scalp.

Coal Tar:

This is used to treat scalp problems such as dandruff, and although the evidence is not proven, the Northwestern Health Sciences University warns that it increases your risks of cancer. (European Union has restricted its use in over-the-counter shampoo since 2004).

Sodium Chloride:

It is also known as table salt, and is used as a thickener in shampoos and conditioners that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. It is a contributing factor to eye irratation and also causes dry and itchy scalp. Salt may also cause hair loss.

Artificial Colors:

A shampoo may add colors by the use of syntethic coloring, and the Organic Consumers Association says you should avoid these colors at all costs. They may raise your risks of contracting various forms of cancer, and are noted on your shampoo’s ingredient list as D&C or FD&C and followed by both a color and a numer. (Ex.: FD&C Red No. 3).


This is added to a shampoo to kill fungi and bacteria to help preserve the shelf life of the product. It may be toxic for your skin and immune system and the Environmental Working Group says it has been linked to organ system toxicity and may cause cancer. (Many countries like Japan and Canada have banned and restricted the use, but it’s widely used in the U.S.).

Salicylic Acid:

It a common ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos and it is a potentially dangerous with side effects including dizziness and difficulty breathing. There are more mild and more common side-effects which include a stinging feeling on your scalp and/or rashes.


These are generally added to shampoos to help protect your hair from ultraviolet rays and unfortunately they may accumulate on your skin over time, acting as an endocrine disrupter.

The listing on the back of the shampoo bottles may seem hard to navigate, but with the knowledge of what’s harmful for you can help making your choices easier. Certain shampoo ingredients are obviously more desirable than others. It should be obvious that parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, butyl/ethyl acetate are all shampoo and cosmetic ingredients one should avoid. These chemicals are absorbed not only into one’s hair, but into the bloodstream.

Here’s a small list of safe shampoo ingredients that give your hair a healthy clean shine without the chemical hazards.

USDA Certified Organic Ingredients:

The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) certifies that food products meet rigid chemical-free standards before being deemed as organic. Many of these organic products become ingredients in natural shampoos, and these are recommended because your hair products should be as healthy as the food we eat because they are absorbed into the skin. They contain safe ingredients such as sunflower or an olive oil base, with natural colors, grapes or beet juice and natural essential oil fragrances.

Plant Extracts:

These are free from chemical processing agents, which cause allergic reactions or contain possible cancer related problems. Plant extracts include: gingko, aloe vera, sage, and grape seeds to encourage hair’s growth. The extracts of sage, rosemary, thyme and garlic are used as anti-dandruff treatments.


Falls under two categories: detergents and soaps. Detergents are synethic and chemical-based products, and soaps are made from vegetable oils or animal fats. Organic shampoos feature soaps rather than detergents. Coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil and beef fat are all viable ingredients in organic shampoos.


Glycerin is a natural byproduct of soapmaking, and many manufactures just include in as a moisturizing ingredient. The same oils used to make the cleanser may be used to add moisture as well — olive oil, jojjoba oil, goat’s milk, honey and hemp seed oil.

It is important to feed your hair naturally because your overall hair and scalp health is at stake here. If you want to grow stronger and healthier hair it doesn’t matter how clean you keep it… if you’re using the wrong shampoo ingredients than it can be harmful. Stay educated.


MoroccanOil Product Review

I am incredibly impressed by a product, and I felt the need to share this with the world. After my post yesterday where I was negative, I thought I’d share a positive. So, I’m sure most of you have heard the buzz going around for some time now about the Moroccanoil brand of products. I was skeptical about them because I’ve tried One n’ Only Argan Oil (Sally Beauty Supply carries it) and I was not impressed, the oil worked okay and the shampoo/conditioner made my hair dry. So, since Moroccanoil also has an infusion of argan oil I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, and did a large amount of research before even heading out to Trade Secret Salon and looking at the product line. Trade Secret unfortunately was out of the Conditioner, so I opted out of buying the Shampoo/Conditioner set and just bought the straight oil. I bought the smaller bottle (.085 ounce) and it was $16 after tax.


After I stepped out of the shower, I wrapped my hair in a towel, and later applied a tiny amount of the oil to my ends. It worked wonders! It made my hair so soft and manageable, and even now I can’t stop touching my hair. This is what it claims to do on its website:

“Moroccanoil Treatment’s really versatile, nourishing and residue-free formula can be used as a conditioning, styling and finishing tool. It blends perfectly with other products and even speeds up drying time. This treatment for hair completely transforms and repairs as its formula transports lost proteins for strength; fatty acids, omega-3 oils and vitamins for shine; and antioxidants for protection. It absorbs instantly to fill gaps in hair created by heat, styling and environmental damage.”

It does these things, and makes your hair feel wonderful. I have not yet tried the MoroccanOil brand Repair Shampoo and Conditioner as I said before, but I’ve also heard mixed reviews about them, so I’m not sure. (After my Joico KPak disappointment I don’t know if I’m willing to risk it! Especially when the shampoo is $22 and the Conditioner is $24.) There are also another product I wouldn’t mind trying by the line and it’s called the “Glimmer Shine Spray”.

On its website it says: “Glimmer Shine is a finishing spray that attracts and reflects light to give hair a gorgeous gloss. Infused with argan oil, vitamins and antioxidants, it creates an invisible veil of luminous shine and protects hair against environmental elements such as sun, salt water and chlorine. Glimmer Shine can also be used to enhance color and highlights, adding the perfect touch to any style.”


I’ve actually heard better things about the spray than the Shampoo and Conditioner. (Apparently the shampoo claims to be sulfate, phosphate, and paraben free, but actually contains a surfactants, which is the same as a sulfate except it’s a different form and it dries your hair. The second ingredient is actually a sulfate, and the lather that it creates strips all the oil from your ends.) Many people do recommend it, but the ones that are not recommending it… they are usually the people I listen to.

On the Moroccanoil website it says: “Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner are for hair that has been weakened or damaged by color, chemical processing or heat styling. They restore hair by bathing it in a highly concentrated formula rich in antioxidant argan oil, reconstructive keratin and fatty acids. Both products restore elasticity, moisture and manageability. The formulas are free of sulfates, phosphates and parabens, so they’re safer for the environment and won’t dry, fade or strip color-treated hair.”


Anyway, I highly recommend the Moroccanoil Argan Oil. It is amazing and makes your hair soft and silky, but not oily. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it.

What is Argan Oil?

It is an oil that is produced from the kernels for a Moroccan Argan tree, which is known for its cosmetic, nutritive, and medicinal properties. The Argan tree is a relict species from the Tertiary age, and survives in the harsh conditions of southwestern Morocco. Argan oil remains one of the rarest oils in the world due to the small and very specific growing areas. It is made from the nuts of the Argan tree, and the oil is thought to have restorative and age-defying effects. Since it is high in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, it’s believed to help skin conditions such as:  dry skin, acne, psoriasis, eczema and even wrinkles. The oil is being promoted and sold worldwide and it supports women’s jobs in Morocco.

Now, Moroccanoil products are not purely argan oil, don’t start to think that, but they do contain a good dose of it. There is obviously a higher concentration in the actual oil than the Shampoo and Conditioner and therefore, the oil is may be most effective. I highly recommend it, and if you’ve tried it and have had the same results or different ones let me know!

Hair Products I Regret Buying

After some time of being a VIB at Sephora and rating products, along with becoming quite popular on the very credible Yahoo! Answers section of “Style and Beauty” I’ve decided to make a style and beauty blog! Hopefully many girls can find this a reliable source to answer beauty needs. I thought I’d start off with something negative, just because I am currently upset about a recent hair care purchase and feel the need to vent. As girls, we know how important the look and feel of our hair is, and there are many things we do badly to our hair such as curling and straightening, not to mention coloring. Currently, to give you an idea, I have a medium brown color, with some lighter caramel highlights on the bottom. It is also long, just past my boobs. Therefore, it is obvious that I need to keep my hair strong and healthy in order to avoid problems like split ends and dryness, along with keeping up with my overall hair growth. I have tried SO many products for my hair, and here are some of the products I recently regret buying in no particular order:

1. Joico KPak Reconstruction Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Mask

Now, this is my most recent disappointment. I heard so many rave reviews for these products, and I have to say I was excited and had high hopes for it. These claim to reconstruct and rebuild the structure of the hair with 19 essential amino acids and offers intense reconstruction from cortex to cuticle. It supposedly has a protein and moisture balance that will make the hair soft and manageable again while building strength. All of these things it claims, went unnoticed by my hair. I started with the shampoo, which left my hair feeling undernourished and dry, which is never a good start. I felt as if I had to use more than I normally would just to have my hair feel clean. Then, the regular reconstructing conditioner left my hair feeling dry and brittle, and definitely did not rebuild the structure of my hair. The conditioner is watery, not thick, and feels watery in my hair. The reconstructer was mostly favorable due to the smell (It smells like bananas and coconuts!), but when I used it on my dry hair as a mask, I saw no results. It felt as if I had not used a deep conditioner at all. I was disappointed on so many levels because of the amazing reviews, and feel as if I’ve wasted my money. After using these products I had to apply an enormous amount of leave-in conditioner because of just how dry it left it… it just did not work for me.

2. Bumble and Bumble Prep Spray

Bumble and Bumble tends to disappoint me time after time, and yet I choose to spend my money on it and expect it to work wonders. This bottle retails between $19-$24 and what you are apparently paying for is a spray that is full of herbs and vitamins for the hair and scalp and is a nutrient-rich detangler and styling primer. The reason I bought it is because it says it refreshes hair when it’s the second day of not washing, and your hair needs a little loving. This product is a disaster. I sprayed it onto my hair that needed a refresher, and I noticed that this spray is actually just water with some scent. It made my hair a giant, frizzy mess because it was as if I sprayed water directly onto my already styled hair. Now, I simply use it after the shower, because I do enjoy the smell, and I don’t want the bottle to go to waste. It does not make my scalp greasy, so I spray some on my scalp as it says to do and I rub some in. Apparently the vitamins in it are supposed to nourish your scalp, maybe it does, maybe it does not. I will NOT buy this water ever again.

3. Bumble and Bumble Thickening Serum (really)


This little tiny bottle was recommended to me the first time I ever walked into an official Bumble and Bumble Salon. (Also found at beauty shops such as Sephora) and I bought the whole line of Thickening products (Shampoo, Conditioner and this serum). This serum retails at $27! And I was promised that this bottle would make my hair appear and actually make it thicker if I used this nightly. So I did. I gave it the whole bottle’s worth of time to work, and it did not. It did absolutely nothing at all. It is a water ‘serum’ that you need to fight with to actually get from your hand to your head without it dripping through your fingers. The bottle says to pump once or twice and put that onto your scalp… and by the time I had pumped a pump it had leaked through my fingers and to nowhere at all. This is water with coloring, and I will never again waste my money.

4. It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask

I was actually really obsessed with this product line for about a month last summer, but I’ve changed my opinion on them. When I first used this Miracle Hair Mask it really did feel like a miracle and it worked wonders, but after maybe the third or forth use, I hated it. It is actually incredibly watery, and not thick enough to do anything at all. It’s disappointing in the fact that it does so much once and then after that it slowly loses its appeal. There are so many better masks on the market, and this one just did not add up. Also, you need to use a TON of this stuff to even coat your hair, it’s a waste.

5. Victorias Secret Clean & Go Dry Shampoo

I was excited when I saw that Victorias Secret carried a Dry Shampoo because their Shampoo and Conditioners actually work well enough and smell WONDERFUL. So, I thought I’d give the Dry Shampoo a try. It was terrible. It made the hair around the roots feel dry and gross, and the white powder residue was ridiculous. If you tried to rub it in, the white powder would flake off my hair like dandruff.. not for me.

6. Nexxus Humectress Luxe Ultimate Moisture Leave-in Spray

Since I love the Nexxus ProMend Line, I decided that a Leave-in conditioner spray may also be amazing, but clearly I was wrong. This did nothing for my hair, and felt as if my hair was dryer than before. I was sad that Nexxus could make such a bad product, I had more faith in them. It makes your hair feel weighted down, so I promptly returned it.