Today we have a better understanding of the ingredients that we use in everyday products than ever before. With some elements of everyday or cheap haircare being harmful, it’s important to familiarise yourself with these ingredients, in order to make an educated decision as to what’s best for yourself…


Parabens are possibly the most widely talked about harmful ingredient in haircare. Parabens are a preservative, that stop bacteria from growing. Our skin can absorb them through topical use, such as coming into contact with your skin or scalp. Parabens are known to mimic the hormone estrogen, which has been linked to an increased growth of breast cancer cells. Today there are various options of haircare products that are paraben free.

2. Sulphates

Sulfates strip oil from the hair and are strong detergents. When applied to the scalp a chemical reaction is created, binding with the sebum on the scalp and water to remove oil and any residue from the hair and scalp. Sulfates are very harsh and can damage the hair, causing it to be brittle and frizzy, in addition they can also cause allergic reactions to those with sensitive skin.

3.  Fragrance

We all like to have nice smelling hair, but due to a loophole in regulations, stating ‘added fragrance’ on an ingredients list means that haircare brands can include synthetic fragrances that use hundreds of artificial and potentially harmful chemicals. The term ‘fragrance’ isn’t regulated by the FDA, meaning almost anything could be used. It’s suggested that there are more than 3,100 chemicals used by the fragrance industry, so if you want to avoid these, use products that are naturally enhanced to smell nice.

4. Polyethylene glycol

PEG is considered to cause interference with the body, and is known as a ‘developmental toxicant’, meaning it can interfere with human development. In addition, it can be contaminated by dioxane, which has been linked to cancer.

5. Cocamidopropyl betaine

Cocamidopropyl betaine is worth trying to avoid if you suffer from skin complaints such as dry skin, eczema and rosacea. It’s found in most shampoos and is uses as a foam booster, which is why some all natural shampoos don’t quite foam up the same as synthetic alternatives. Many products use this along with dimethylaminopropylamine, which can cause skin irritation, and so worth cutting out if you suffer from sensitive or dry skin. Now that you have a clearer idea of just how some synthetic ingredients can impact on your health you can decide what’s best for you. There are lots of ‘free-from’ and natural alternatives available, should you decide to cut out any or all of the above.