Common Ingredients in Hair Products – Are They Toxic?

Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

st2A trip to the beauty salon could take up anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours of my day.  Yeah, I admit it, I’ve spent way too much time scrolling up and down the isles trying to figure out what products are best for my hair.

Ever since my hair fell out Ive been very careful about what touches my hair and scalp.  It took me hours to get out of a store and I never made it easy on the staff – the ladies anyway.  Most often, the stores are owned by Koreans with some very helpful sisters who I seem to ask millions of questions and honestly they aren’t trained for my madness so I would try to figure it out alone.  I stared at product labels far too long wondering what the heck they really meant.  It was frustrating.

I had to do some research and I discovered that some of the most common ingredients used in the cosmetic industry are very toxic and it didn’t sit well with me that I was putting things in my hair that could cause further hair loss.  People with Alopecia, scalp conditions or damaged hair should completely avoid harsh chemicals but that’s easier said than done for those who have no idea what’s listed on the labels.

The knowledge I gained prompted me to seek all natural products but besides the natural oils , I didn’t find enough to care for my hair in those stores.  Even some of the well known “Natural Brands” contain toxic ingredients especially as preservative so I decided to make my own products which are currently exclusive to Growth Aid Salon’s  clients.  My products are formulated for hair loss and they will be available soon but in the meantime I’ve listed some common ingredients below explaining whether they are indeed natural, toxic, or just useless.

Isopropyl Alcohol:  This is found in a host of cosmetic products such as hand lotions, color rinses, fragrances, body rubs, after-shave creams, etc.  It’s a by-product of petroleum and is used in antifreeze.  Ingesting or inhaling this solvent could cause vomitting, nausea, depression, headaches, dizziness, and extreme sensitivity could result in coma.  This is obviously not favored by me considering that my scalp is not at its optimum health.

Sodium Lauryl Sufate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):  These could be the most common ingredients in shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, body wash, creams, etc because of its foaming ability.  SLS is found in engine degreasers, car wash soaps, laundry detergents, garage floor cleaners, mouthwash, etc.  Some research suggest that this ingredient is dangerous because it could separate skin layers,  cause inflammation, and when tested on animals it resulted in laboured breathing, skin irritation, and diarrhea.  SLES is the alcohol form of SLS and is slightly less irritant but both easily penetrates the skin and enter as well as maintain residual levels in the heart, lungs, liver, and brains.  These are indeed toxic.

Fragrance is perhaps the most common ingredient seen in the cosmetic industry.  Soaps, deodorants, skin care, hair care, nail polish, etc contain fragrance.  The problem is that seeing fragrance on a container doesn’t really tell us what the fragrance is because there are over 4000 ingredients ranging from plant derived to toxic chemicals that are considered to be fragrance.  Various symptoms have been reported by use of products containing “fragrance” which include depression, skin irritation, hyperactivity, etc.  It’s probably best to add essential oils to your DIY hair products or unscented cosmetic items.

Behentrimonium Methosulfate is not a natural forming ingredient.  It is made in a lab but derived from grapeseed oil.  Used in many conditioners,  it is one of the mildest ingredient used to add slip and detangle.  In fact it is recommended for baby products as it is safe for delicate skin. Behentrimonium Methosulfate is an active ingredient in some of Growth Aid Salon’s conditioners and leave-ins.

Panthenol is another common ingredient found in cosmetic products.  It is a naturally-occuring form of Vitamin B5 with molecules that are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft.  Panthenol has several benefits to the hair as it is an effective detangler, moisturizer, glossifier, and a humectant.  These properties allow it to strengthen weak hair, adds moisture, sheen, and thickness.  I use Panthenol in many of Growth Aid’s products to help with the restoration of damaged hair.

Mineral Oil & Petroleum.  Mineral oil is derived from crude oil also known as petroleum which  is an oily solution of hydrocarbons formed from a combination of minerals and decaying animals and plants.  Once taken from the earth, Petroleum is taken to refineries, boiled, vapourized, and converted back into liquid.  Gasoline, diesel, kerosene, vasoline, and mineral oil are all created from petroleum which is an industrial product used as a cutting fluid or as a lubricant.  Mineral oil is refined into a clear liquid which is also odorless and used in approximately 80% of cosmetic products including shampoos, conditioner, make up remover, skin creams, deodorant, etc.  When applied to the skin or hair mineral oil acts as a cover or provide a coating.  It’s like wrapping your hair or skin in plastic which makes it difficult if not impossible to breath.  It disrupts normal cell formation thus can result in an array of skin issues such as acne.  I prefer to avoid using this on my fragile hair and scalp because I believe oxygen is vital during any healing stage.

There are many other ingredients that are frequently used in hair products but the ones mentioned above seem to be among the most common that I’ve seen.  As usual, I encourage you to do your own research and choose what works best for you.

Comment below if you can think of other products or let me know what your thoughts are concerning this article.


If you feel my website or videos are helpful and you'd like to support my mission to help others combat alopecia, please make a donation below. I'm very grateful for your support. You can also help others by simply sharing my posts and videos. To donate via PayPal, credit card, or e-check, please click the button below:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Leave a comment