A Few Surprising (and Scary!) Ingredients in Common Shampoos

potentially harmful hair shampoo ingredientsBe honest, how often do you actually take the time to read the ingredients on the back of your favorite shampoo? For most of us, the answer is probably never. Besides the fact that words like “Methylisothiazolinone” can be absolutely mind-boggling to understand (much less try and pronounce!), we often just assume that if a product is on shelves, it must be safe for us to use, right? Wrong! Check out these 4 scary ingredients that could be in your go-to shampoo and why you might want to avoid them.

1. Parabens

According to health expert and well-known medical doctor, Dr. Isaac Eliaz, parabens are a common preservative added to shampoos to help eliminate bacteria and fungi. “Reducing bacteria levels means that products can stay on shelves longer,” he notes. “However, parabens are dangerous to more than just bacteria, as they’ve been linked to increased estrogen levels, which can lead to hormonal disorders or even cancer.”

Dr. Eliaz goes on to say that Methylparaben and Ethylparaben have been connected to allergies, endocrine disruptions and immunotoxicity. Other parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors, while still others are linked to skin irritation, contact dermatitis and rosacea in people with paraben allergies.

2. Fragrances

Most shampoos contain some type of artificial fragrance, which is complex and can be made up of as many as 4,000 ingredients. Dr. Eliaz points out that many of the compounds found in these fragrances are allergenic, while some are toxic and even carcinogenic. People have reported a variety of reactions to the FDA, he says, including headaches, dizziness, rashes, coughing, nausea and skin irritation. “Fragrance exposure can impair the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability and other behavioral issues as well.”

3. Methylisothiazolinone

Dr. Eliaz warns that in research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Methylisothiazolinone has been linked to neurological damage. “The compound can increase the risk of brain defects in unborn children, as well as potentially lead to Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. Methylisothiazolinone is commonly found in popular shampoos, such as Head & Shoulders, Suave, Pantene, Clairol and more.”

4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) make soaps foamy and are found in nearly every brand of shampoo and body wash. Interestingly, they are also used in car washes, says Dr. Eliaz. “These chemicals have been linked to skin and eye irritation, endocrine disruption, possible genetic mutations and cancer.”

Cosmetic Chemist of BeautyStat.com Ron Robinson also adds that while Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate may be great cleansing agents for those with normal or oily hair, they’ve been found to be overly stripping for those with dry, damaged hair or color-treated tresses. “To that end,” he notes, “many hair care brands have started to launch “Sulfate-free” shampoos that are much better for hair.”

Do we have your attention yet? To learn more about seemingly harmless hair product ingredients that can actually damage your hair, click here.