Do you know what your hair products are made out of?
I became curious as to what ingredients were in my shampoo and conditioner a few years ago. I found it interesting that some products dried my hair out, while others left it soft but heavy. I started researching the different ingredients I couldn’t pronounce on the labels and whole new world opened up – I realized that not only were some of these ingredients stripping my hair of its natural oils and proteins, but also that some were cancer-causing.
Over time, I researched many different products from a variety of brands and found that even those bottles that said “natural” on the front were laden with toxic chemicals. I learned that the breakdown of the hair shaft is actually the most benign side-effect of using these products. More harmful side-effects include altering hormones, causing constant headaches and degenerating cells in the body. Sounds unreal, right? Unfortunately, these side-effects are very real, yet not widely known.
Our hair follicles are rich in blood vessels close to the scalp. When warm water hits these follicles, they open up and the ingredients in our products are easily absorbed into the bloodstream and begin circulating throughout the system, affecting our cells, tissues and organs. Many of these ingredients are difficult to pronounce and sound harmless, but they are far from harmless.
It’s time to pull out your shampoo, conditioner and other hair care products and see if they include these common, toxic chemicals:
SULFATES: Sulfates are cheaply produced chemicals often found in floor cleaners, oven de-greasers and other products to create foam, including shampoo. The most common sulfates are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). These sulfates can enter the heart, liver and brain from skin contact and can impair the immune system. Furthermore, sulfates can have a degenerative effect on cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties.
FORMALDEHYDE: Formaldehyde is a preservative that irritates the skin and can cause allergies, joint pain, inflammation, chronic fatigue and dizziness. It is considered a carcinogen and is also found in nail polishes and other beauty products. IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA or DMDM HYDANTOIN are two additional preservatives that may be found in products that release formaldehyde.
FRAGRANCE: Fragrance sounds harmless and lovely, right? Unfortunately, it’s actually highly toxic and can cause headaches, rashes and dizziness and is linked to hormone disruption and sperm damage. And, if you’re wondering, yes, perfumes and colognes contain fragrance and are just as toxic!
DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA), MONOETHANOLAMINE (MEA) & TRIETHANOLAMINE (TEA): These hard-to-pronounce chemicals are hormone disrupters and irritants. Hormone disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, reproductive issues, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.
ETHYL & ISOPROPYL ALCOHOLS: These petroleum-based alcohols are drying to the hair shaft and can lead to breakage of the hair and irritation on the scalp.
I’m going to bet that the products you’re using contain one or more of these toxins. The good news is that there are many products on the market now that don’t contain these harmful ingredients and you can find them at your local drugstore and online. Do your research, toss out the poisonous products you may be using and clean up your hair, your hair care routine and your body!
*Citation: Chopra & Snyder, Radical Beauty. New York: Harmony Books, 2016. Print.