Dangerous Toxins in Hair Care Products – And how to avoid them

blonde woman with good hair

There is a number of dangerous toxins that are hidden in the daily hair products we use. These chemicals have a dangerous effect on the short and long run.

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS):

Also called Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). Although it originates from coconut, this substance is nothing but natural. This chemical is a detergent and an emulsifier that is used in most shampoos, hair colours and beaching treatments. It breaks the surface tension and this allows the product to better react with your hair. That is why it is also used in some scalp and hair treatments. The problem is that during the production process, a carcinogenic by-product (1.4 dioxin) is produced.

SLS has been linked to a number of hazards, such as eye and skin irritation, reproductive and organ toxicity, neurotoxicity and cellular changes. SLS has also been linked to poor eye development in children. On the long run and with excessive use it is linked to mutations and cancer but studies are still being conducted to confirm these claims.

2. Parabens:

They are cheap preservatives that are used to prevent bacteria. The problem with parabens is that are listed in different names and this makes them harder to notice and hence to avoid. They actually have no benefit whatsoever to the consumer as all their benefit lies in the fact that they prolong the shelf life of your shampoo or conditioner.

Studies have been conducted to show that parabens can mimic the effect of estrogen on body cells and with prolonged use have been linked to several kinds of cancer like breast cancer. They are also linked to fertility problems, early puberty in children and early menopause in women due to the way they affect different cells in the same way just like estrogen.

Parabens are known to cause skin rashes especially with people who have sensitive skin. They can also cause hair loss in case of severe reactions. Parabens can break the cuticle covering the hair shaft and can actually cause dry brittle hair.


blond womanPhthalates are used as a preservative and softner. Phthalates are sometimes difficult to detect because companies are not required to list the ingredients of their fragrance components.

They are known endocrine disruptors that mimic the effect of the hormone on the cells of the body. High exposure to phthalates during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects and issues with the male children’s reproductive system defects. It has also been linked to obesity as they are bioaccumulative substances that can be detected in urine. They increase the risk of liver and breast cancer and can also increase the risk of infertility.

4. Triclosan:

This substance is used to prevent bacteria formation and was first registered as a pesticide but is now used in clarifying shampoos and treatments that are meant to treat dandruff. Triclosan has been proven to affect muscle functions. Studies have been conducted on mice and fish and showed how their skeletal and cardiac muscles failed after exposure to Triclosan.

The effect on human cells was the same, which shows how effect the daily dose of exposure can cause muscle failure on the long run. Even the minimum amounts of Triclosan found in shampoos can disrupt the thyroid hormone-associated gene.

Triclosan has the ability to accumulate in your body, which means that it can accumulate in your fat cells and can be found in urine, milk and blood. It can affect the immune system and can cause allergy and asthma.


This substance is used to make hair products creamy and it is also used to adjust the PH level of hair products. DEA and its compounds cause eye and skin irritation. Long or excessive exposure is directly linked to precancerous changes in skin and thyroid. These compounds can also cause liver cancer.

Although cocamide DEA is derived from coconut, and is used even in baby shampoo, this substance has been proven to cause cancer. Even in small doses, this substance causes skin irritation.
The problem is that although DEA chemicals are proven to be dangerous, they are not regulated by the FDA so you can find them in pretty much almost every hair product.

Are there any natural ingredients to use instead of these harmful chemicals?
You can opt for natural ingredients that can replace the dangerous chemicals found in hair products.

These ingredients are safe to use in hair care products:

1. Cider or White vinegar

Vinegar can be diluted with water to be used instead of shampoos that are full of harmful substances. It is used to clean the hair and the scalp. It is the best anti-dandruff treatment and doesn’t dry the hair as anti-bacterial or anti-dandruff shampoos.
Washing the hair with vinegar will cleanse the hair without stripping it off its natural oils while keeping your hair looking shiny and healthy.

2. Lemon

Lemons are rich in Vitamin C and they are good to control scalp itchiness and dandruff. They are safer to use than clarifying shampoos and dandruff treatments. They also help control the PH levels and help hair growth.

Lemon juice is a natural hair bleach. It can be used to lighten your hair colour instead of harmful chemicals that have a bad effect on your health.

3. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a natural remedy that helps with damaged hair. It can be used as a prewash conditioner that helps to protect hair against the adverse effects of chemicals and heat. It is a perfect treatment for split ends and chemically treated hair.

It deeply penetrates within the hair and helps with hair growth. It can be used as a hair mask overnight that has to be washed the next day to keep your hair soft instead of conditioners that are packed with chemicals.