You eat healthy, exercise regularly, and your skin care regimen is comprised of all-natural products—so why are you using a shampoo and conditioner that’s laden with chemicals? Our hair is composed of amino acids, which are essentially the building blocks of life. With that in mind, your tresses need proper sustenance in order to thrive.
What's in your hair products?
It’s also important to point out that the ingredients in hair care products penetrate your skin, so it’s imperative they are safe and nourishing versus toxic and counterproductive.
The reality is that the majority of products on the market contain chemicals that are destructive to your hair, as well as your overall health. Hair loss, skin allergies, and even breast cancer are among the many concerns linked to unnatural formulas. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of the toxic shampoo industry and why you should make the switch—for good.
The toxic chemicals lurking in your hair care products
So, if chemicals are harmful to our tresses as well as our health, why are companies putting them into their products? In short, it’s all about cost. Whipping up an inexpensive formula and attaching it with a price that’s still attractive to consumers makes for a profitable business—but not necessarily an ethical or sustainable one.
What’s also disturbing is reports reveal that many beauty products contain chemical ingredients that have inadequate safety data. When it comes to the hair care sector, here are the top toxic ingredients you should look out for.
You know that squeaky clean feeling you get after rinsing off a lathery mane? That’s due to sulfates as their role is to remove dirt and oil. While we’re conditioned to believe that the more suds the better, the reality is that sulfates also strip the scalp of the vital moisture that contributes to lustrous locks.
On a deeper level, many sulfates contain hints of a carcinogen called dioxane, which has been linked to kidney issues and cancer.
More commonly see this ingredient listed as PEG, this chemical was actually deemed by the state of California as a “developmental toxicant,” which means it disrupts development and/or behavior.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s also tainted with the aforementioned dioxane.
Research suggests that this antibacterial ingredient can cause inflammation of the colon, disruption to the immune system, and colon cancer due to the fact that it alters gut microbiota found in the intestines.
Parabens are one of the most hated and most common toxic ingredients in the beauty industry because their role is to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold.
Because parabens are xenoestrogens—meaninng they have an analogous structure to human hormones—the propose a cancer risk.
Those commercials promising your hair will smell like a lavender field in Provence are masking the fact that synthetic fragrances (not essential oils) are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the States.
Considering there are 3,100-plus chemicals used in the fragrance industry to create this marketing driven scents, it’s frightening to not know what’s in them or whether or not the are safe for short- and long-term use.
11 reasons why you will love clean hair care
In no particular order, as they are all good reasons.
1. They are loaded with antioxidants
You come into contact with pollution and chemicals on a daily basis. Antioxidants help neutralize these free radicals that have adverse effects on hair the health of your hair and body.
2. You won’t develop an allergy
Unless you have an allergy to say, a specific essential oil or natural ingredient, it’s unlikely that you will experience a rash, itchiness, discoloration, or broken skin that can come with using a chemical-based product.
3. You’ll have healthier tresses
While fabricated hair care products may initially produce results such as less frizz and increased hydration, over time, they cause damage to both hair and follicles alike. Just remember that patience is a virtue.
It takes a few months to see results from products containing natural ingredients, but it’s well worth it when your tresses are thicker, stronger, more moisturized, and defined due to true hair health, not chemicals.
4. You won’t get a scent-related headache
It should be no surprise that chemicals don’t have a good smell, which is why companies add synthetic fragrances (yes, more chemicals!) to camouflage the scent of these non-desirable ingredients.
When you breath in these faux fragrances over a period of time, it can prompt a headache—sometimes even on a migraine level.
5. You’ll lessen your risk of life-threatening diseases
There are enough studies to support the fact that the toxic chemicals found in beauty products (such as hair care) can cause or encourage serious medical issues such as various forms of cancer, kidney issues, hormone disruption, and birth defects, to name a few.
6. You’re treating—not masking—hair concerns
Sure, synthetic ingredients like silicones may make you think you’re getting silky/hydrated/or voluminous tresses, but in actuality, they are coating the hair, which in turn inhibits your hair from getting moisture.
Chemical-free hair care products contain naturally derived ingredients that provide true nourishment so you’re mane is treated for the long term, not just Saturday night.
7. You’ll have a healthier scalp
It’s not uncommon to suffer from a dry, irritated scalp due to the drying alcohols and sulphates found in your typical hair care products. Natural formulas gently cleanse without stripping your scalp of natural oils that contribute to a healthy scalp.
8. You won’t run the risk of hair loss
Age and/or health-related hair loss aside, using natural products strengthens the hair follicles over time, so it becomes thicker and fuller versus thin and brittle.
9. You’ll be leaving a green footprint
Where do you think all of those chemicals wind up when they go into your drain? You may not be pondering about the earth while you’re washing your hair, but you should be when choosing your products.
The toxic elements in synthetic formulas end of in our lakes, oceans, and air—think of what that does to the ecosystem.
10. You’re contributing to sustainability
You’ll find that most natural hair care products care about using ingredients derived through virtuous processes that incorporate fair trade.
11. You’ll be helping out the animals
While you’ll want to check the packaging before purchasing any product—even natural—most clean hair care products are also cruelty-free, which means they don’t test on animals.
Sadly, despite how much the beauty industry has evolved, many companies still condone this inhumane practice.
The future looks bright
The good news is that studies suggest natural hair care products are on the rise due to consumer demand—people are afraid of hearing about all of the harmful side effects associated with synthetic formulas.
Keep in mind that natural products may cost a bit more because they are made with high quality, ethically produced ingredients. Paying a bit more is worth it in the long run because you’re making an investment to your health, as well as the environment.
“Chemical Exposures: The Ugly Side of Beauty Products,” Environmental Health Perspectives, January 2005, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1253722/
“Health Care Products Are Associated With Breast Cancer Risk,” Breast360.org, January 10, 2017, https://breast360.org/news/2017/08/14/hair-care-products-are-associated-breast-cancer/
“5 Toxic Ingredients in Shampoos and Conditioners You Should Avoid,” EcoWatch, April 3, 2016,
“New Research Drives Home How Crazy It Is That Triclosan Is Still Used In Hundreds of Everyday Products,” Quartz, May 30, 2018,
“Shampoos and Conditioners, What a Dermatologist Should Know,” Indian Journal of Dermatology, May-June 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458934/
“Natural, Organic Hair Care Grows With Consumer Demand,” Drug Store News, February 2, 2018, https://www.drugstorenews.com/beauty/natural-organic-hair-care-grows-consumer-demand/
Rebecca Taras has over ten years of editorial and copywriting experience, including serving as an editor for hot digital spaces like Refinery29, PopSugar, Forbes Travel Guides, and Bustle. Along with contributing to print and digital outlets, she currently handles copywriting for some of the biggest brands in the beauty and travel industries.
A Chicagoland native, Taras began her career catering to celebrity clientele as an esthetician at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel before launching her own line of bath and body care products with her previous bath and body care company, Cleansing Queen. Rebecca also created custom in-room amenities for the Sofitel Hotel Chicago, including items featured in a special presentation for the president of AccorHotels upon his visit from France to Chicago. Her efforts were recognized by the Chicago Fashion Foundation, and she received the Style Maker and Rule Breaker award in the Beauty category.
Ultimately, Rebecca’s initiatives evolved into the co-founding of Terminal Getaway airport spas, now located at Seattle-Tacoma International, Tampa International, Orlando International, and Chicago O’Hare International airports. Though she is no longer involved with Terminal Getaway, her passion for beauty and travel not only persisted over the years but grew.
As Rebecca continued to refine her skincare knowledge, she spent a considerable amount of time as a journalist covering beauty and other topics. Rebecca’s diverse body of knowledge, experience, and an insatiable curiosity for faraway places culminated in Well-Traveled Beauty, an upcoming skincare line and travel website. The company’s initial offerings will be a line of results-driven, travel-friendly beauty products that take the guesswork out of figuring out what to pack.
A global traveler with a passion for Paris, Taras finally decided to live the Parisian way of life on the daily and call the City of Light home.