Skip to main content

Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Your Hair Products

By 10/11/2021February 6th, 2022No Comments5 min read
Harmful Ingredients to avoid in your hair products

At each stage of life, people notice the changes in their hair growth. They also tend to try out various products to help them cope with the after-effects of climate, age, styling, or stress on their hair.

With people nowadays becoming more conscious about their health and the environment, there is also an increased buzz of what exactly goes into hair products. They are peeking into their cabinets, glancing at the long ingredient list and wondering – “Are these products doing more harm than good?” This awareness also means that the criteria to choose hair products are no longer fragrance, brand, packaging, or celebrity endorsements.

Today, people are looking to invest in products that do not hamper the existing hair quality and provide appropriate aftercare post hair loss treatmentshair transplants, surgeries, and other ailments.

Harmful Ingredients in Hair Products

Here is a definitive guide of toxic ingredients commonly found in hair products, along with their surprising aftereffect on hair and body health.


Ever see Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) as ingredients in your hair products? These are the common sulfates of which one needs to be cautious. They are usually used since they are the most cost-effective, and adept at dissolving oil and cleaning the scalp. However, the lathering process in effect ends up stripping away your hair and scalp’s natural oils. This process leaves many consumers with weak, dull, or damaged hair. In some cases, if used for longer periods, it may even cause skin irritations or disrupt the hormone balance.


Parabens are preservatives that manufacturers add to prevent the growth of bacteria in hair care products and prolong their shelf life. They are easily absorbed when applied to the scalp, and apart from affecting the health of your hair, it also puts the body’s endocrine system at risk. Further, it is also known to mimic the function of estrogen (female reproductive hormone) and puts women at risk of breast cancer. The common parabens to look out for are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, etc.


In recent years, hair treatments such as Brazilian blowouts or keratin have become a popular route to achieving smooth hair. However, one should be wary of such treatments as they may contain a preservative called formaldehyde. It is a vapour found in hair products for smoothening, binding, and cleansing. Inhalation of the vapour released by it may cause severe respiratory tract and skin irritation. Further, this ingredient is under investigation as it is easily absorbed into the skin and is known to be carcinogenic. Some formaldehyde releasers are Bronopol, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, etc.


The use of phthalates in hair products is usually attributable to the spreadability of a product. It helps absorbability of other additives and provides artificial fragrance to the scalp and hair. However, phthalates also disrupt and cause changes in the endocrine hormones – estrogen, testosterone, insulin, thyroid, etc. – which can lead to other changes in the hair growth cycle. Since many research studies suggest that it is harmful to human health, some governments have already banned its use in cosmetics. However, some manufacturers may disguise it in the form of “fragrances”, of which consumers need to be wary.


Until recently, Triclosan was an essential element in soaps due to its antibacterial properties. While it continues to be used in hair and other cosmetic products, it is not as beneficial as it seems. It is known to be a skin irritant, a hormone disruptor, and also a suspected carcinogen. This ingredient is said to accumulate in the fat cells and create toxins. This ingredient is also known to cause hormone disruptions, leading to cancer and compromised fetal development.


Silicones, when used in conditioners and styling products, provide a protective seal to the hair. It locks in moisture and leaves the hair looking glossy, smooth, and silky. However, this top layer on the hair cuticles prevents moisture penetration in the hair shaft, making it dry and frizzy over time. Some of the common silicones are Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Phenyl trimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, etc.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

DEA and TEA are ingredients used to neutralize imbalance pH levels in hair care products. Due to its acidic properties, it is added to alkaline hair products to make them pH neutral. Often, these chemicals are used to enhance the smell and colour of hair products. However, both DEA and TEA also tend to cause allergic reactions and scalp inflammations. Further, they tend to destroy the hair’s natural keratin, leading to hair loss, brittleness, and damage.

Polyethylene Glycols (PEG)

PEG is a polyether compound obtained from petroleum and is often used in hair products as an emulsifier. Further, it aids in frizz control and provides shine to the hair. However, this ingredient has a tendency to reduce the hair’s natural moisture. The consumer then needs additional chemical-based products to soften the hair. Furthermore, a toxicology report classified it as a “developmental toxicant” containing carcinogenic substances that interfere with human development. This component tends to break down protein and cellular structure, thereby stripping hair of its natural moisture and leading to dry, prone-to breakage strands.

Other Precautions to Keep in Mind

In addition to the above ingredients, one needs to be cautious of products that mention alcohol, synthetic fragrances, and colours. Alcohols wreak havoc by making your hair dry and brittle. If you need help finding out if your products contain alcohol, look out for components that contain “prop”, like Isopropyl alcohol or propanol. Companies entice you by providing you promises of hair that will smell like roses or lavender and masking the component with the word “parfume”. However, these are essentially a blend of synthetic and toxic chemicals that affect the scalp and hair quality and cause cancers, asthma attacks, or reproductive issues. Most importantly, steer clear of shampoos made in a variety of colours which only cause harm to the hair cuticle and lead to oxidative damage.

Key Takeaways

With so many products continuing to sell despite these additives, one is forced to question the viability. However, one needs to understand that these ingredients disrupt the natural oil secretion process of the hair, leaving you with unhealthy hair. Always try to incorporate hair products that are mild and made from natural, plant-based derivatives. Don’t overlook reading the labels on your hair products prior to purchase.

It is important to use good hair products after hair transplants too. We, at EsteNove, provide effective hair transplant in Turkey and also ensure that our customers use good hair care products after the treatment. Book an appointment with us!