5 Toxic shampoo ingredients to avoid

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5 Toxic shampoo ingredients to avoid

Finding a good shampoo that works for your hair type well can be difficult, but finding one that works well and doesn’t expose you and your family to known and documented toxins may be even more difficult. More and more research is indicating that many of the most common ingredients used in shampoos and body washes are detrimental to human health. These substances are under more scrutiny as consumers have begun to read the ingredient labels of the products they buy. Here are just a few of the ingredients consumers should avoid when purchasing shampoo or body wash.

Methylisothiazoline (MIT)

Methylisothiazoline (MIT) has been recently shown in research conducted by the National Institutes of Health to cause neurological damage in humans. The damage causes by methylisothiazoline can put unborn children at risk for brain defects, as well as lead to the onset of Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. Unfortunately, this specific ingredient is commonly found in popular brand name shampoos and conditioners, such as Head & Shoulders, Suave, Pantene and Clairol.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and the related chemical Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are found in nearly every popular brand of shampoo and body wash. These chemicals are the surfactants responsible to causing the soap to sud and foam up the way most Americans expect soap to. Unfortunately, this chemical is a known carcinogen, and is known for having an irritating and abrasive affect on the skin and hair. In fact, great controversy has arisen regarding the use of anesthetic ingredients in baby shampoos being used to neutralize the pain caused by Sodium Lauryl Sulfate when soap gets into the eyes.


Parabens are a common type of preservative added to many types of cosmetics which are responsible for preventing the growth of bacteria, thus keeping the product shelf-stable for a longer period of time. Parabens, however, have been linked to increased estrogen levels in the human body, which may contribute to the development of hormonal disorders and cancers.


Phthalates have been receiving much more attention in the media recently. Simply stated, phthalates are a type of fragrance added to shampoos and body washes to give the soap a desired scent. Some of these phthalates are known “plasticizers” which may be related to reproductive and hormonal problems, especially in young and developing children.


Formaldehyde, traditionally used as an embalming agent for the deceased before burial, is commonly found in soaps and shampoos and can cause allergic reactions and damage to the nervous system. Formaldehyde, however, it isn’t always found listed as its traditional name. Formaldehyde can be found on ingredient labels as doazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quarternium-15.


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