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21 Harmful Shampoo Ingredients to Avoid (Some May Cause Hair Loss)

These harmful ingredients can cause hair thinning problems. If your scalp is damaged you will have dry, brittle and heavy hair.

Here is a list of twenty one toxic (and unfortunately common) ingredients you should check for when it comes to your shampoo, conditioner and other haircare products.

Shampoo ingredients to avoid if you don't want skin irritation and hair loss

Many of these harmful ingredients are added to cosmetic products to help hair retain moisture or work as a thickening agent.

The problem is these toxic ingredients can lead not only dry hair, but harmful health effects such as affecting the hormone estrogen or even breast cancer and are not recommended if you want to have beautiful, healthy hair.


Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) 

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) can cause hair thinning problems. Ammonium lauryl sulfate is a chemical that is used in shampoo, toothpaste, detergent and other cleaning products.

Ammonium lauryl sulfate is found in many items on the market today because it has several beneficial qualities including foaming abilities, cleansing power and ability to act as an emulsifier.

Ammonium lauryl sulfate is also inexpensive which helps manufacturers keep costs down on their products. Ammonium lauryl sulfate makes up about 10% of all surfactants so it's not too hard to find even if you try to avoid it.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant that is used in shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, detergent and other cleaning products.

It's found in many items on the market to day because it has several beneficial qualities including foaming abilities, cleansing power and ability to act as an emulsifier.


Parabens are preservatives that can also be found in beauty products, lotions, makeup etc. They are often used to extend the shelf life of these products because they inhibit the growth of microbes.

The problem is that shampooing your hair with shampoos and conditioners containing parabens strips away natural oils from the scalp which then leads to dryness, brittle or heavy hair.

If you have a damaged scalp it will lead to dandruff problems as well as difficulty maintaining an even hairstyle because the roots may not grip onto hairs properly due to breakage caused by chemical damage.

Sodium Chloride

Sodium Chloride is a harmful ingredient that can be found in most commercial shampoos. Sodium chloride is most often used as an emulsifier, thickening agent or stabilizer.

It is also the most common form of salt used in most shampoos and conditioners. The problem with sodium chloride is it gets stuck between the cuticle layers which prevents them from lying flat. This will cause your hair to thin out at the top and give you a less than desirable look.

Polyethylene Glycols (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycols are a hair loss culprit. They are found in most commercial shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, detergent and other cleaning products. Polyethylene glycols is also the most common form of salt used in these hair care items.

It's known to irritate skin so it could lead to hair thinning problems if you have sensitive skin or scalp damage due to chemical exposure etc.

Polyethylene Glycols can cause hair thinning problems by stripping away natural oils from the scalp which then leads to hair breakage due to dry hair.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine are two ingredients you should avoid in your shampoo if you don't want hair thinning. Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine are both found in shampoos and conditioners to give them a silky texture. Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine can also be used as pH adjusters.


Formaldehyde is a toxic ingredient that can be found in hair care products. It is a known carcinogen and can release gas even when it is in hair products.

It also leads to other toxic chemicals being released from hair products that have been heated, such as hair dryers or heated rollers. Formaldehyde has been linked with causing nose and throat cancer, leukemia, and other serious health problems.


Alcohol is a well-known hair care ingredient to avoid. Alcohol can cause hair thinning because it dehydrates hair and scalp, which makes hair dry and brittle.

Alcohol also slows hair growth and causes hair thinning. Some hair loss shampoos contain alcohol but you can find hair loss shampoo without alcohol, too.

Synthetic Fragrances

Synthetic fragrances are used in hair products to create a sensorial experience. However, these fragrances can be toxic and harmful to hair follicles. They have been shown to cause hair thinning and other hair-related issues.

Many people don't realize that what they're experiencing is actually the synthetic fragrance itself, not the natural scent of their shampoo or conditioner's ingredients. And this means that while you may think you're getting a pleasant aroma from your hair care products, it could be causing more trouble than good for your hair!

Synthetic Colors

Synthetic colors can cause allergic reactions or other problems when applied to your scalp. The worst part about them though, is that it's impossible to tell if you're coming into contact with them because they often mimic natural colors like blueberries, lavender and even egg yolks!

If you want healthy-looking hair free from synthetic colors, be sure to watch out for labels on your shampoos and conditioners that contain CI, known as "color index." Some common CI colors are:  Blue 1, Blue 2, Red 4, Red 33, Yellow 5.


Dimethicone is a synthetic silicone known to cause hair loss. In order to avoid this ingredient in your shampoo and conditioner, you should check for these ingredients on the label: Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Amodimethicone.

In addition to being harmful for your hair and scalp, it can also be hazardous to the environment since it doesn’t biodegrade easily.

There are some natural shampoos that offer a product without dimethicone such as Biolage Conditioning Balm or Kerastase Nectar Therapiste which have been formulated specifically with natural ingredients that nourish your hair instead of harming it.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Cocamidopropyl Betaine is an additive that can increase the risk of human body inflammation. It’s also found in some shampoos and conditioners, meaning you could be putting it on your head every day without even knowing it.

The human body naturally produces Cocamidopropyl Betaine when processing coconut oil, but too much of this chemical in shampoo or conditioner might cause irritation to the scalp, making hair fall out more quickly than normal.

This ingredient is just one of many harmful chemicals hiding in beauty products that are designed to make you look good - at any cost!


Another hidden chemical in shampoos and conditioners is Triclosan. Triclosan was originally introduced as a pesticide, but later used in soaps and toothpastes because of its antibacterial properties.

Triclosan is an endocrine disrupter, which means that it interferes with the normal function of hormones. Triclosan can prevent hair growth by inhibiting testosterone's ability to bind to receptor sites on hair follicles.

Triclosan can also cause eczema and psoriasis flare-ups and is a known skin irritant. Triclosan has been linked to liver cancer and endocrine disruption.

Retinyl Palmitate

If you care about your hair health you'll want to avoid Retinyl Palmitate. Retinyl Palmitate can cause skin irritation and is a potential carcinogen. Retinol should naturally be found in hair care products since it stimulates collagen production, which can help counter the symptoms of thinning hair.

However, Retinol breaks down into Retinoic Acid when exposed to sunlight or air. When this happens, it produces reactive oxygen species, known to damage cells and cause cancer.


Silicons are chemical fillers that have been used in beauty products for decades. Silicons are also found in car tires, caulking, sealants and other industrial applications. The chemical is frequently found listed on ingredient labels as Dimethicone or Cyclomethicone.

Silicons can cause hair loss by inhibiting testosterone's ability to bind to receptor sites on hair follicles. Additionally silicones coat the hair shaft making it difficult for sebum (natural oil) to reach the scalp and provide moisture needed for healthy growth of new hairs.

Silicones make strands heavier which could contribute to breakage; they also make them less elastic which leads to dryness and splits ends. Silicones can cause eczema and psoriasis flare-ups and are a known skin irritant. They may also be carcinogenic, so it's best to avoid them.

Sodium Chloride

Sodium Chloride has been linked to hair damage because it causes dryness or breakage. It can cause chemical burns or skin irritation.

This chemical is in most shampoo and conditioners because it helps make the product more concentrated. Sodium Chloride may also be listed as: Sodium Chloride, Sea Salt, and Sodium chloride solution.


Methylchloroisothiazolinone is a chemical that has been used in shampoos and conditioners for decades. It is harmful to the hair, causing it to fall out or break off just as chemical treatments do.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone can also lead to scalp irritation and dermatitis. Hence, it’s best not to use products containing this chemical if you want your hair healthy and beautiful.

Potassium Sorbate

This chemical can lead to hair thinning if it is left on the scalp for too long because the chemical can strip hair follicles of their protein and weaken the structure.

Potassium Sorbate should be rinsed out of your hair after only three minutes so that you do not risk chemical burns on your scalp and skin sensitivity.

Polysorbate 20

Polysorbate 20 is used to make the product more stable and to help with the solubilizing of ingredients. Polysorbate 20 also helps with foam building properties in a shampoo or soap. Polysorbate 20 has been linked to causing hair thinning because it can reduce blood flow to follicles which can lead to follicle death.

Polysorbate 20 also makes the scalp more susceptible to bacterial infection by disrupting its natural protective layer of sebum from producing an oily substance called squalene that protects against bacteria growth on the skin’s surface.


Phthalates is a known endocrine disruptor, which means it can mess with hormones like estrogen or testosterone leading to hormone related diseases such as cancer or diabetes.

Phthalate-containing shampoos have been linked to decreased sperm count, increased breast size in girls, early puberty onset in girls, type 2 diabetes, obesity, abnormal thyroid function and liver toxicity.

Does your shampoo and conditioner contain any of these harmful chemicals that disrupt your hair's natural oils?

The chemicals in these products create a film on the hair shaft and block oil glands from producing natural oils that do wonders for your hair like help hydrate the strands to add shine.

You will notice dry, brittle and heavy hair if your scalp is damaged. Shampoo and conditioner should only contain natural ingredients; never chemical-based ones, such as these twenty one ingredients we have listed.

Beneficial plant derived shampoo ingredients like aloe vera, tea tree oil, coconut oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, coconut milk, olive oil, jojoba oil are a great option for maintaining hair heath.

We hope you enjoyed our list of ingredients to avoid in shampoo and conditioner. Be sure to look for these harmful chemicals on the labels so that you can make sure your hair stays healthy, beautiful and free from harsh chemicals.


Provide your hair with everything it needs

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The information on mynoophoric.com is for informational, educational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. Readers should not rely on this information as advice to make health decisions. Noophoric is not responsible for any possible health consequences from any person following information that is presented on this website. Readers should consult with their physician before making changes to diet, nutrition, supplementation, medication or lifestyle.