If Chemicals in Shampoos Are Harmful, How Are They Legal?

Published on Jun 18, 2014 in Facts

Almost every provider of naturally-based personal care products advertise the fact they are free of “harmful chemicals”. “Free of artificial fragrances andpreservatives” are also terms that often diminish the value of commercial products which contain them.

The FDA has banned many different shampoo ingredients in the past, and there is a vast pool of online resources which are reference guides to harmful ingredients.

Harmful Items That Aren’t Banned By the FDA

Everyone uses shampoo!

The FDA bans any ingredients which have been scientifically proven to be harmful in trace quantities and above. There are other ingredients which can be just as hazardous, however they are not classified as unhealthy in such tiny amounts. The public is still affected by the ingredients that aren’t banned due to quantity control.

Using potentially harmful ingredients a few times a week for months or years on end can cause a buildup that will mostly result in a temporary or permanent scalp condition.

Take note that the FDA will not ban an ingredient just because it causes dryness or breaking of hair follicles. They will only ban an ingredient which can lead to a medical condition or injury.

Shampoo Companies Use Harmful Additives

One can understand the answer by translating the question to the food industry: “How are fast food chains getting away with selling unhealthy food? Wouldn’t people see how the food is unhealthy, and lean towards companies who sell healthier food?” It is common knowledge that fast food is unhealth, and the food industry leaders are fast food joints. The math is the same when it comes to shampoos. People want something fast, available everywhere, and most importantly, cheap. Healthier ingredients cost more, because they are not mass produced with cheap chemicals – when it comes to both food and shampoo alike.

Is the Public Simply Ignorant?

There is much education regarding unhealthy foods, and for good reasons. Unfortunately, there is not too much public information about unhealthy shampoos.

Reading the label

We need to stay informed about the ingredients in the products we buy

Because all the ingredients used are considered safe by the FDA, people assume that using them won’t come with unhealthy side effects.

News flash – ingredients like sulfates, which are particles small enough to be absorbed into the scalp (and then the scalp doesn’t know what to do with them, so they ultimately hinder the healthy growth of cell renewal) and artificial fragrances (which can cause a mild allergic reaction the skin) should definitely be avoided. Too many people neglect their hair health due to ignorance. If you’re reading this, and you now have the knowledge, spread the word!

Why Are People Still Buying?

The answer to this question is a compilation of the three answers above. Because the ingredients aren’t banned by the FDA, and because they are available in almost every cornerstore of the country, the common public falls prey to ignorance, and often don’t realize the unhealthy side effects that build up as a result of prolonged continuous use of such products.

Proper hygiene includes a healthy diet, and the use of healthy personal care products. Make sure to select shampoos and other personal care products which are advertised to be absent of potentially harmful ingredients. No longer do you have to neglect your scalp, hair, and skin – tell a friend, and start on the road to better health together.

The Most Common Chemicals Found in Shampoos

Parabens in Shampoos Explained

Parabens are used as chemical preservatives in a wide variety of products, not just our shampoos.  Things that we use on a regular basis, like food and drugs, may contain a large amount of these chemical additives. This is because using these chemicals is a mean of strengthening their antibacterial; properties and lengthening the overall shelf life of the product.

However, little is really known about the actual anti-bacterial effects of parabens and research has shown that they may have strong carcinogenic properties – which ultimately leads to the formation of cancer with consistent and regular use over a long period of time.

The debate surrounding the use of parabens in shampoos (and most products for that matter) has become controversial because some argue that using these chemicals in small, controlled doses won’t affect the overall quality of your health and will help to prevent the onset of infection or inflammation by removing any germs or bacteria from the scalp or skin.

However, in more recent years, parabens, along with a great deal of other endocrine suppressing chemicals, have been banned from commercial use in the EU because of mounting proof that are simply not good for consumers health over any span of time or in any amount for that matter.

Parabens come in many forms or varieties and some of the most commonly listed versions (that you’re most likely to come across in your local supermarket) are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

The reason that they’re so bad for your hair in particular is because they actively work to strip away not only the dirt and grime from your hair, but also the thin mantle layer on our cuticles which is made up of oil, water and salt. This mantle layer helps to keep our hair protected against going dry or brittle and ensures that our cuticles remain flat – thus avoiding frizzy or overly curly hair.

So it’s imperative that we try and preserve as much of this layer as possible and unfortunately, most of the shampoos and conditioners we use on a regular basis contain large amounts of parabens – which has lead to a resurgence of the all-natural, ‘no-poo’ movement in recent times.

Sulfates in Shampoos Explained

I’m sure we’re all used to having our shampoos form a rich, thick lather when we apply them to our hair and many believe that our hair is not being properly cleansed unless we use a product that forms a rich lather.

While this may be true to some extent, the reality is that most of the products that we use to achieve this lather contain a variety of different chemical ingredients that help to increase their lathering abilities – namely sulfates, which have more negative effects on our hair than they do good.

This is because they’re so effective at forming a lather which helps to strip away grime, dirt and excess oil from our scalp – that they tend to remove more than they need to. I’m referring again to that thin layer of oil, salt and water on our scalps and cuticles called the mantle.

This layer is our hairs natural way of keeping itself moist and hydrated and once it’s removed, our hair tends to dry our and become weak and brittle – leading to breakage. But beyond that, the chemicals also help to strip away hair color (for those who have died hair), can lead to an itchy scalp and general irritation and have even been linked to hair loss.

While sulfates may not be as bad for our health in terms of the carcinogenic properties of parabens, the fact of the matter is that they’re not ideal for our hair and avoiding them is generally considered the best option if you want to keep your locks hydrated, colorful and softer for longer.

Which Type of Shampoo is the Safest?

I hear this question more often than not, usually because I’m running around telling my friends and family what they shouldn’t do and shouldn’t buy. So after much consideration, I’ve finally settled on a universal answer that I could offer a solution to anyone – in fact I have two.

DIY shampoo recipes are safe, cheap and effective

The first is the most obvious and seemingly the most simple option and that’s to shop around for products that do not contain sulfates, parabens or any harmful chemical ingredients for that matter. However, this doesn’t mean simply choosing another product from the same brand you’ve been using that claims to be sulfate or paraben free as a great deal of companies simply remove one or two of the harmful chemical ingredients from their list and claim to be totally free of them.

The best option is to use products that are all natural and contain roughly less than 10-12 ingredients in total. This makes it easier to verify whether any of the ingredients may be harmful or not, as well as having less of an impact on your hair and scalp in general with regards to the balance of natural oils that keep them hydrated and soft.

The second option is my personal favorite, but may take some time to perfect or get used to for those who are less experienced with DIY projects. I’m referring to DIY, homemade recipes of course, as these are the best way to ensure that you know every ingredient that is contained in your shampoo or conditioner and it allows you to have more control over the type of formula you’d like to use.

This means that you have the ability to customize the formula to suit your hair in particular and ultimately have more control over the quality of your hair and how you nourish it. Once you’ve perfected a DIY recipe, you’re free to experiment with it and try out new combinations and scents which really helps to get the creative juices flowing, not to mention saving you loads of cash every year as the price of a decent conventional shampoo and conditioner can be quite high.

So do a little research and see which option suits you best.

Top 3 Natural Shampoos of 2018

If you are looking for different types of natural shampoo you have come to the right place. One of the top natural shampoos is organic Argan Oil Shampoo by Pura d’or. It contains no harmful chemicals and is hypoallergenic and it will nourish your hair follicles. It will also promote cell growth and fight hair loss naturally with its all natural ingredients. It provides your hair with the needed moisture and will leave your hair with a shine.

There is also NaturOli Soap Nut Shampoo which is sulfate free and gluten free and safe for color treated hair and it reduces fading. It balances secretion by oil grand in your scalp and removes excess oil and dirt form your hair. It can also relieve your itchy scalp and clean it without stripping away your body’s natural nutrients. This is a highly recommended shampoo!

Another amazing natural shampoo is Desert Essence all natural organic Italian red grape shampoo. It contains B5 which will work on your damaged hair and leave your hair extremely moisturized. The high levels of antioxidant acts as UV filter and aids in correcting environmental damage. If you have issues with frizziness, dryness and breakage in the past you should give this shampoo a try!


Ultimately, you hair is only as healthy as you treat it. In some cases, just leaving it as it is is the best option, and some people can get away with washing only once a week or so, or even using a dry shampoo most of the time.

However, for the rest of us, especially those with oilier hair types, having healthy hair is a little bit more of a challenge. The irony is that most of the conventional products that we end up spending a small fortune on over the course of our lives winds up doing more damage to our hair over time than they do good.

So if you are really concerned about having strong, healthy hair and a scalp that is free of irritation and doesn’t get dry all the time, I’d recommend investing in an all-natural, preservative and chemical free brand of shampoo, or simply sourcing the necessary ingredients to make your own at home.

Having great hair is more a matter of cutting out harmful chemicals, than spending money on them and while many won’t have any issues using conventional shampoos, the truth is that a lot of people do at some point or another. My rule – you’re better off without a long list of chemical ingredients, than you are with them. Simple. Go natural and start reaping the rewards today.

While you are here check out Argan Oil Explained at Maple Holistics