Have you ever been browsing the natural hair products aisle, come across a new product with a fancy label that reads for natural hair, and then buy it without thinking?
Many times the drive for our purchases is a pretty label with a yummy smell. This is called awesome marketing on the manufactures behalf, but sometimes if you’re not careful you could be buying a “natural” hair product that is packed with the bad guys.
Here are 10 bad ingredients you should look to avoid when picking up a new hair product to try.
1. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
Sulfates, sulfates, and more sulfates. I’m sure just about everyone has heard of the harmful effects sulfates have on our hair and why we should avoid them.
In case you haven’t, here’s the quick run down. Sulfates, such as SLS, are detergents added to shampoos for its cleansing and foaming properties. While it gives shampoo its fancy lather, it strips our hair of its natural oils* leaving it dry and brittle, often resulting in damaged hair and breakage overtime.
Shoot to buy shampoos that are clearly marked “Sulfate Free”.
2. Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA)
These ingredients are used for their pH balancing properties. They have been known to cause allergic reactions for some individuals as well as lead to dry hair and skin.
What’s even scarier is that if DEA or TEA comes into contact with nitrates (often present as contaminants in personal care products) it can cause a chemical reaction that can lead to the creation of cancer. Yikes!
Parabens are mostly known for their use as a preservative in hair products. They have antimicrobial properties that can extend the shelf life of many personal care products by a couple of years. However, a few studies have shown that parabens may have been the cause of breast cancer. It would be safe bet to just stay clear away from them.
4. Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea
Ureas are also a known preservative in personal care and hair products. In some cases it has been known to cause contact dermatitis.
If you think back to the hair products our parents used for our hair growing up, you can bet they had these cheap ingredients. Remember Blue Magic?!
These ingredients were often found in a lot of products but unfortunately only “coat” our strands without adding any read moisturizing benefits. They in fact weigh your hair down and not allow any oils* to penetrate the hair shaft. Although an old school grease product my be appealing to coat your scalp, stay away from these ingredients and try a more natural oil instead.
6. Propylene Glycol
This ingredient is best known to give a product “slip”. Alternatively, it can also be harmful to your body. According to the Material Safety Data Sheet for this compound, it can be absorbed into the skin and possibly cause brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities.
7. Synthetic Colors
You should already know to stay away from anything synthetic and not natural when it comes to your body and hair. Some hair products may use synthetic colors in their products for a more appealing look.
You may recognize these on the lists of ingredient as FD&C or D&C followed by a color and number. Artificial colors may cause skin sensitivity and irritation.
8. Synthetic Fragrances
Apart from colors, you should also avoid fragrances. Because consumers are more drawn to products that smell amazing, manufactures like to pack their items with artificial fragrances. I’m guilty of having owned products that have “fragrance” listed in the ingredients and still do.
However, some people have been known to have negative effects due to this ingredient, such as headaches, dizziness and skin irritation. I know it’s hard to give them up, but try to shoot for products that are scented with all-natural essential oils*.
Most manufactures have eliminated use of formaldehyde as a preservative in their hair products but you might still see one occasionally. Formaldehyde is known to prevent growth of bacteria in products that contain water. However, it is suspected to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) and may cause skin irritation as well as lead to other allergies and negative reactions.
10. Coal Tar
Coal tar is typically included in shampoos that are specifically designed to treat dandruff. Often you will find that it will be disguised under a different name such as Stantar, Clinitar or Polytar. Coal tar is questioned to be carcinogenic and cause adverse affects on some individuals such as allergic reactions, headaches and nausea.
While some ingredients are more harmful than others, be mindful of what your are putting onto your hair and scalp. Next time you are searching for a new product flip the bottle around and check out the ingredient list. You might find that your “natural” product is packed with yucky preservatives and harmful compounds disguised under another name.