5 Harmful Chemicals Hiding in Your Hair Care Products

5 Harmful Chemicals Hiding in Your Hair Care Products

Sometimes it feels so good to shampoo in those fragrant suds. Are you aware that your hair care products could be causing moisture-draining damage, or more? There are thousands of chemicals out there. Find out which ingredients to stay away from, and which ones to keep in your shower for hydrated hair that looks its healthiest.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycol strips hair of its natural moisture leaving it vulnerable to excessive drying and breakage. It is also a common chemical agent found in spray-on oven cleaners. Often PEG is utilized in hair care products and other cosmetics because it provides an abrasive surfactant that cleans both skin and hair. However, officials note that these powerful cleaning agents can cause the moisture in hair to evaporate, leaving it vulnerable to environmental damage and breakage.

The Environmental Working Groups notes exposure to amounts of PEG as low to moderately harmful, due to the fact that it has demonstrated toxicity to organs.


Petroleum is derived from crude oil. Often cosmetics use petroleum in lip balms, makeup and hair care items because it appears to provide an emollient layer. However, sources contest that the thick, unbreathable consistency of petroleum cause it to hinder the skin’s natural protective barrier. It is also said to stifle pores similar to plastic-rap. Not allowing oxygen to enter cells can actually cause toxins to become trapped resulting in acne. It is also said that blocking-off cells leads to a lack of moisture and premature aging. Remember, what you wash your hair with makes its way down your face and your body.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is a surfactant and compound which can is found in antifreeze. It is said to quickly penetrate skin, and is found in many hair products, after-shaves, mouthwashes and toothpaste. Material Safety Data Sheet warns that contact can cause systemic brain, liver and kidney malfunctions.

SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)

This compound is a surfactant, meaning its primary use is to extract dirt and oil from the surface of skin and hair, which naturally contains moisture. These often give soaps and shampoos their thick and creamy lathering effect. They are even said to be in some brands of bubble bath. The American Journal of Toxicology assessed that “in some cosmetic formulations, the irritant property is attenuated. The longer these ingredients stay in contact with the skin (scalp), the greater the likelihood of irritation, which may or may not be evident to the user.”

Instead of using an SLS-based shampoo or other hair care product containing this possibly irritating detergent, try opting for a natural brand that contains honey (a humectant that draws moisture into the hair follicle) or nettle extract, which is a gentle, milder ingredient for cleaning hair.


According to sources, the term ‘fragrance’ noted on a label can mean it contains up to 4,000 different ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that such compounds can cause dizziness, rashes and skin discolorations.

Alternative Solutions for Chemicals in Hair Care

Try using a shampoo or conditioner containing natural astringents and humectants that gently clean hair without removing any of its natural moisture content. Natural humectants, like honey, can penetrate the hair follicle and into cells where it helps attract moisture. This provides lasting hydration and facilitates an enjoyable to touch softness.

Nettle extract in natural shampoos is said to create a light-weight, silky lather that is said to bolster hair volume.

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