Harmful Ingredients Found in Commercial Shampoos


When “fragrance” is listed as an ingredient, assume it’s a clever way to depict the inclusion of harmful, synthetic chemicals, like phthalates. The FDA does not require companies to list the ingredients that make up the fragrance, so the term is used as a catchall for unknown chemical concoctions. These chemicals are linked to reproductive damage, hormone disruption, allergic reactions, and cancer. Further, they can actually be damaging to the hair and irritating to the scalp. 


Sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are surfactants and foaming agents which can be drying and irritating to skin. They are damaging to hair protein and strip away protective natural oils, weakening strands and causing breakage. Furthermore, the way sulfates are produced is harmful to the environment, and their runoff into water sources is harmful to aquatic life. 


Parabens are hormone disruptors, used in cosmetic products as a preservative. Because of their structural similarity parabens mimic estrogen in the body and have been linked to breast cancer, decreased testosterone, and low sperm counts. 

Polyethylene Glycols

Petroleum derived Polyethylene glycols (PEG) facilitates absorption of a product into the skin, making it especially dangerous when used in a formula containing other toxic ingredients. While it has been shown to be mildly irritating to skin, the biggest reason to avoid products containing PEG is out of concern for the environment, as it is essentially a plastic we are leaching into the environment. 

DMDM Hydantoin

DMDM Hydantoin is a preservative ingredient which releases formaldehyde, a neurotoxin. DMDM Hydantoin can cause irritation, allergic reactions, is carcinogenic, and toxic to the nervous and reproductive systems. 

We wanted to create an effective shampoo bar free from harmful chemicals. Learn more about shampoo bars and the difference between soap and detergent!

1 comment

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