Natural, Healthy Hair: 4 Chemicals to Avoid
Guest Author: Natasha Cornall
Many of the hair products that we use regularly contain chemicals that are harmful to our skin, our hair, and the environment. Chemical-filled shampoos might remove dirt quickly, easily, and cheaply, but they can also end up being dangerous and causing harm to our bodies.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common chemicals used in hair products, what they are used for and why they can be dangerous.
Parabens stop the growth of microbes, and are used as a preservative. They are cheap and widely available, so can often be found in many low-cost and own-brand hair products. In high concentrations, they are known to be highly toxic. They can cause allergic and skin reactions, and have been linked to cancer and lowering the age at which puberty occurs.
Silicone is a sealant; when used in shampoos, it coats and seals our hair, making it appear smooth and sleek. Silicone works by coating our hair and preventing any moisture getting in, so it doesn’t go frizzy from humidity. However, this also means that no other products we use will get through to our hair either! Regular use of silicone-based shampoos can prevent our hair and scalps from ever really getting clean, causing our hair to go flat, dull, and greasy.
3. Propylene Glycol
Like many chemicals used in hair products, propylene glycol provides no actual benefits to our hair. Its job is to prevent any water escaping from our hair products before we use them. However, it can cause skin irritation, even liver and kidney damage – and it is an active ingredient in antifreeze!
4. SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
Sulfates are the chemicals which create the suds and foams in many of our shampoos. They were originally used as industrial strength cleaners and degreasers but have become one of the cheapest and most widely-used synthetic chemicals. When used frequently, they strip our hair of its natural oils, can cause dryness, frizz and split ends; they can quickly cause colored hair to fade, can dry out our scalps and lead to hair loss.
While there are laws in place to specify how much of each of these chemicals can be used in any particular hair product, these often do not take into account the fact that a vast majority of us use more than one product a day. The prolonged and repeated use of these harmful chemicals could have drastic effects on our bodies – and even if they don’t, what’s the point in taking the risk for the sake of chemicals that don’t even offer any benefits to our hair or skin?