Shampoo Ingredients to Avoid

We are drawn in by the temptations all the time: This shampoo will give you a thicker, fuller mane. That one will give you twice the shine without the frizz. And the one over there smells like an ocean breeze on a warm day. We trust our shampoos to deliver on the promise of healthier, more vibrant hair – but what is shampoo really putting into that noggin of yours? It may feel like a sneak attack to learn that certain ingredients could be contributing to hair loss instead of hair revitalization. Skip the enticements on the front of the bottle – they could be shielding a host of unsavory substances listed on the back:


While preservatives extend the life-span of shampoo, they do nothing to preserve your hair. Avoid shampoos that contain formaldehyde, a disinfectant that can cause hair loss after excessive use. The most dangerous preservatives in shampoos are parabens, which contain antifungal and antimicrobial properties to increase shelf-life. Propylparaben and methylparaben are toxic chemicals; they cause scalp irritation and they have penetrating power, leading to hormone disruptions under the skin. Changes in the hormonal balance lead to hair loss over time.

Thickeners and foaming agents:

There is nothing more soothing than building up a foamy lather while washing your hair. But as relaxing as the sensation is, many thickening agents that contribute to shampoo’s sudsy nature are harsh detergents that dry your scalp out and damage hair follicles. Common thickeners include sulfates such as ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and sodium laureth sulfate, along with sodium chloride, which contains the ingredient SLS. Another common cleaning detergent that strips hair of its moisture is polyethylene glycol (PEG).


Ethanolamines are ammonia compounds used as foaming agents, and as binding agents to hold oil and water together. Monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA), and triethanolamine (TEA) have been linked to carcinogens and they can cause allergic skin reactions.

Silicones and oils:

Many hydrating and moisturizing ingredients in shampoos actually do the complete opposite, because they are too heavy. Dimethicone is a hydrating skin protectant and conditioner that coats the skin’s surface to trap moisture and prevent water loss. The problem is that dimethicone also traps bacteria and oils and clogs your pores, leading to scalp, skin, and hair follicle irritation. Oils such as petroleum, mineral oil, and lanolin oil also work by coating your skin and weighing your hair down. They stop natural oils from being absorbed by hair strands, and this in turn slows down healthy cell development and growth.


You may not be able to completely avoid alcohol ingredients in your hair care products, but look for shampoos that list alcohol further down on the ingredient list, because that means there is less of it in the product. In high concentrations, alcohols leach moisture from hair and dry it out. Isopropyl alcohol is a solvent most commonly found in antifreeze – it is effective at cutting right through your hair’s natural oils.

Skin irritants:

Synthetic colors and synthetic fragrances all too often cause scalp irritation, skin sensitivity, and allergic reactions. Fragrances and color pigments – often identified as FD&C and/or D&C, along with a color and number – have no purpose other than for aesthetics. Propylene glycol, another antifreeze that keeps shampoos from freezing during storage, is also a skin irritant and can cause allergic reactions.


Of course, it is just as unhealthy to not wash your hair at all – when possible, look for shampoos with minimal packaging and organic, raw, or plant-based ingredients. And if you are experiencing unexplained hair loss, let Florida Hair Restoration help you rebuild a healthy, natural-looking hairline. Call us today at 800-842-4735 or 949-HAIR-DOC to schedule a free consultation.

April 26, 2018|