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5 Common Hair Product Chemicals to Avoid

back of woman’s head with long, healthy brown hair with blonde highlights

“Chemicals” are not inherently bad. A chemical, after all, is simply any substance formed by the reaction of two or more substances. There are many hair product chemicals that enrich and protect your hair—and, of course, clean it! However, there are also many chemicals that cause hair loss, damage, and even pose health risks.

In essence, don’t avoid products on the sole basis that they contain “chemicals”. Do your research and find out what the right and wrong chemicals are so you can make an educated, healthy choice.

We’ve started for you! Read on to find out what 5 common hair product chemicals you should avoid.

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This notorious hair product chemical is number one for a reason. SLS is used for degreasing engines and industrial cleaning, but it’s also added to hair products as a cheap and powerful cleaning agent.

Not only can this sulfate cause dryness, but it can also lead to some serious health concerns if used regularly. Even in low concentrations, it may cause irritation or hormone imbalances if it comes in direct contact with your skin.

It comes under a lot of names, including ammonium lauryl sulfate and laureth sulfate. If you aren’t sure what a chemical is on your label, always search online to see if it’s harmful.

2. Parabens (Propyl, Methyl, and Butyl)

You may recognize this lately because of the skyrocketing trend of products advertising themselves as “paraben-free.” Parabens are used to prolong the shelf life of hair products by preventing mold and bacteria growth. But in high enough amounts, parabens can interfere with your hormones, most notably affecting your body’s estrogen levels.

Anyone who has taken birth control or other hormone-altering medication knows the serious effects hormonal changes can have on your body chemistry. Parabens are one of the chemicals that cause hair loss and irritation, and in severe cases, can even cause breast cancer.

Look for the words Propylparaben, Methylparaben, and Butylparaben next time you check your hair product chemicals.

3. Propylene Glycol

If you’ve ever read the back of a shampoo bottle, you’ve likely seen this name. Its cheap production cost and ability to make your hair look smooth and shiny is what makes it incredibly popular in major beauty products.

Propylene glycol does not hold an inherent health risk; rather, it is a harsh chemical that causes hair loss, scalp irritation, and itchiness by removing your hair’s natural oils. It may even damage your hair’s cell structure, making your hair look brittle and unhealthy.

4. Formaldehyde

You may know of formaldehyde as the preservative used in embalming bodies, but it’s used for a myriad of purposes, from construction to glue to fungicide.

Formaldehyde in itself should not be scary—it occurs in trace amounts in nature, and it is a common presence in household goods. It is a problem, however, in large doses, or in products that come in direct contact with your skin.

Manufacturers add formaldehyde to beauty products because of its low cost and ability to kill germs. But in high enough amounts, formaldehyde can cause issues like skin irritation, coughing, and nausea. There are also many links to this hair product chemical and cancer that cause concern. Some people are more sensitive than others and should avoid any products that use formaldehyde.

5. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

DEA and TEA are used to balance out pH levels in haircare products. It’s an acidic chemical, so if a product is too alkaline for your hair, DEA is added to make the product pH neutral. As well as posing a health risk, DEA and TEA can also destroy natural oils like keratin in your hair (a common theme in this article!) This chemical may cause hair loss, brittleness, and damage.

Why do so many of these additives strip your hair of their natural oils? It’s a clever strategy: if your hair can’t produce its own oils, you’ll rely more and more on expensive products to make your hair look sleek and shiny.

Visit Salameh Plastic Surgery for Safe, Natural Hair Rejuvenation

It’s always best to stick with haircare products that feature pure ingredients, from companies that are transparent about their processes and ingredients. Start getting on the right track with Salameh’s line of hair care products. 

If your hair has already suffered damage from harsh chemicals that cause hair loss or lifelessness, Salameh’s Medspa can help restore your hair to its natural sheen. Contact us today to make an appointment at our Bowling Green, Kentucky location.


Hair Product Chemicals to Avoid Infographic


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