What Ingredients To Avoid In Shampoo And Conditioner As Precaution?


It’s no secret there are chemicals in shampoo and that’s okay if that what makes it so good. But sadly, there are some harmful ingredients in shampoo too.

Such bad chemicals can damage your hair instead of doing any good. So, it’s important to know what ingredients to avoid in shampoo in order to protect your hair.

In this article, I will list those ingredients so that you can find your shampoo without harmful ingredients for your precious hair.

List of Bad Ingredients In Shampoo and Conditioner

Here is a complete list of ingredients to avoid:

  • Parabens
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Formaldehyde
  • Dimethicone
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Triclosan
  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Synthetic Colors & Fragrances
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • …any many more!

Shampoo Ingredients To Avoid To Keep Your Hair & Scalp Safe

what ingredients to avoid in shampoo

People use shampoo for various purposes, in addition, to keep their hair clean. People even try to find a shampoo that makes your hair curly!

But plenty of shampoos out there contains harmful chemicals. Apart from sulfates, there are some problematic shampoo ingredients from harmful shampoo brands you should avoid by all means.

Next time, you decide to buy your shampoo, check the ingredients section to make sure it does not contain any of the following:

  1. Sulfates

If you are having frizzy hair out of no hair, chances are…your scalp has been in contact with sulfates recently. Sulfates in shampoo are bad news not just for your scalp, but for your hair too.

Surfactants like sulfates used to clean the extra sebum and dirt from your scalp and they used to do a good job lathering the shampoo.

But such sulfates can create an allergic reaction on the scalp and cause frizzy hair and make your hair brittle.

Such surfactants like the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), etc. are bad for the environment as well.

  1. Parabens (Preservatives)

Not just shampoo, manufacturers used to use this ingredient in almost all of their products including food products. In some cases, it still exists to prevent the product from going bad!

Your shampoo may contain parabens to prevent the bacteria to grow in there if you got it from any harmful shampoo brands. Parabens are believed to be responsible for the increased risk of breast cancer.

Yes, it has nothing to do with your hair, but I would definitely include it in my list of shampoo ingredients to avoid to stay safe.

  1. Formaldehyde

The name alone sounds scary! This is probably because this highly criticized chemical agent has been banned from several products including shampoo and conditioner.

Manufacturers used to add this in their products as preservatives to extend the expiry date.

It can be tricky to identify its existence in shampoo but if you see something like Bronopol, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15 (commonly seen in Brazilian blowouts at the salon), etc. you should avoid that brand.

I don’t need to explain why it’s in the bad ingredients in the shampoo list but the least damage it can cause is skin irritation. And the worst? It can cause cancer!

  1. Salt/Sodium Chloride

Some shampoo brands use sodium chloride in their conditioner and shampoo to make a thicker consistency. But if you have a sensitive and dry scalp with an itching problem, it’s bad news for you.

Because such salt can lead to hair loss!

  1. Phthalates

It can lead to reduced sperm count in men and early puberty for girls. So, why they use phthalates in the shampoo in the first place?

Well, to increase the spreadability of any hair care products, manufacturers add this; though recently they are doing it a lot less.

Another reason for adding phthalates in shampoo and conditioner is that it makes the products to stick to your hair and scalp better.

  1. Synthetic Colors

Don’t fall in love with your shampoo just because it’s pale lavender or bright pink? They are in these eye-catching colors simply because such shampoos are filled with synthetic dyes.

It’s another ingredient to avoid because it leaves behind toxins that are harmful to the scalp and hair for both men and women. It’s totally banned in all food products and still available in cosmetic and other beauty products under limited usage conditions.

Such artificial colors increase the sensitivity and skin irritation and prohibit hair growth by blocking the follicles. Even if it’s not totally banned in the hair care products industry, I would avoid this just as a precaution.

  1. Synthetic Fragrances

Like the artificial colors, many shampoos are filled with artificial fragrances as well. In fact, most of the scented cosmetic products use this.

I call these artificial fragrances harmful simply because they can disrupt your reproductive system as well as make your asthma (if any) worse.

  1. Propylene Glycol

If your hair care products or any cosmetics don’t get a freeze in cold or melted in the heat, there is a higher chance it contains Propylene Glycol. Check it in the ingredient section on the label.

This is a scary ingredient to avoid in your shampoo because it can your skin structure and let other chemicals to get mix up with your bloodstream.

The Environmental Working Group has categorized it as a moderate health issue as it leads to skin irritation and allergies.

  1. Dimethicone

Many brands use this silicon form of chemical agent for the thickness, moisturizing, and anti-frizzing properties. It creates a mask to cover the damages and make it look very shiny.

But the problem with any form of silicon is that they build up over time and it becomes too hard to work with.

Also, as it masks the damaged hair, you won’t be treating the problem when there is enough time. Your damaged hair will be beyond any treatment if that keeps going on for a while.

  1. Triclosan

For its antibacterial and antifungal properties, many manufacturers add this to their toiletries and cosmetic products. It’s already banned to be used in antibacterial soap but still allowed to be used in shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorants.

It’s a highly controversial ingredient to avoid because it hampers the reproductive capacity and leads to develop cancer.

  1. Isopropyl Alcohol

Another ingredient to avoid for frizzy hair!

This dissolving agent is very damaging to add to cosmetics products and shampoo as it leads to skin dryness. Not all alcohols are bad for your hair but this particular type is.

This particular alcohol draws too much moisture from the skin and hair that it can make your hair brittle and frizzy. If you already have a dry skin issue, it will make it worse.

  1. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

It’s another kind of surfactant derived from coconut oil that works like a foam booster. It may sound benign but it has some negative impacts.

When it’s used with dimethylaminopropylamine to any hair products like shampoo, it leads to many problems like rosacea, eczema, skin irritation, and allergies.

  1. DEA & TEA

Also known as Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA). Some manufacturers use the DEA and TEA to blend the oil-soluble and water-soluble ingredients together as they work as the emulsifier and foaming agent.

The EU has already banned DEA to be used in any cosmetics because of its several negative impacts.

  1. Retinyl Palmitate

It can cause skin irritation in several forms like scaling, peeling, redness, and itching. Besides, some researchers have found a link between the Retinyl Palmitate and organ toxicity and reproductive problems.

If I were you, I would include it as another ingredient to avoid in conditioner.

  1. Mineral Oil

This is bad for your hair because it clogs the hair follicles and the scalp can’t self-treat against any toxins. More so, it leads to skin dehydration and dryness as it limits the natural moisturizing capacity.

  1. Petroleum

It damages the hair the same way as mineral oil does. Petroleum is allowed to be used in lots of cosmetics but keep in mind that it blocks the skin pores. This will prevent your body from moisturizing its skin which will lead to skin dryness problems.


That’s a long list of what ingredients to avoid in shampoo! But this is for your own good. It’s painfully expensive to restore your hair and skin once damaged. If you want to learn something about good blue shampoo, I have written an article for that as well!

If you buy your shampoo and conditioner from the OTC market, I would strongly recommend avoiding these bad chemicals in shampoo as a precaution.

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