Toxic ingredients to avoid in hair care products

Nowadays both men and women care for their hair equally. So this leads to the development of many hair care product-based brands. Often we read only the claims and buy the products by seeing attractive commercial ads. Due to some awareness, we came to know about toxic ingredients in hair care products like SLS/SLES and parabens but what about the other nasty chemicals. But how many of us read the ingredient list fully…. only a few. When we read the ingredient list we come across many ingredients which we can’t even pronounce correctly and often ignore them. We are conscious only about SLS/SLES and parabens but not about other dirty chemicals. I have compiled some harsh and unsafe chemicals that are commonly found in hair care products.

toxic ingredients in haircare products



You read it right. Yes, coal tar is used in treating dry skin and dry scalp issues. It is often found in anti-dandruff and anti-lice shampoos and treatment products. Coal tar is a carcinogen. A carcinogen is nothing but a substance that causes cancer in living tissues. The European Nation has banned using coal tar in hair products. But still, other parts of the globe continue to use this. Coal tar is associated to cause lung cancer. Often companies don’t mention it as COAL TAR in their ingredient list. They mention it as some colour+number.

SLS/SLES/Ammonium lauryl sulfate

These are the most popular ingredients used in shampoos and body washes. We all know that it dries out our scalp and hair. Actually, SLS/SLES/Ammonium lauryl sulfate was initially used to remove grease from engines. But now it is found in shampoos. Most of the shampoos have SLS/SLES/Ammonium laurel sulfate within the first 5 ingredients which means that the shampoo has SLS/SLES/Ammonium laurel sulfate in higher quantity. Just think if it degreases an engine what it will do to our hair.

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Isopropyl is an alcoholic chemical that has the ability to dissolve oils. So this will just dissolve natural oil present in our scalp and hair and lead to dryness in hair which in turn causes hair breakage. Isopropyl is found in many hair gels and hair sprays as it has the ability to hold your hairstyle. It is also found in volumizing hair products. Inhaling isopropyl vapor can lead to headaches, dizziness, and sometimes even depression. So next time if you use hair products with isopropyl just think that you are removing natural oil from hair which leads to keratin chain breakage and thus it affects hair growth.


Propylene glycol is used in hair care products to make your hair smooth and shiny. We all will be happy to see our hair smooth and shiny but we are actually destroying our hair structure. It damages the cellular structure of our hair and breaks our hair. If you have an itchy scalp then propylene glycol in your hair care product is responsible for it. It is better to avoid this.

Toxic ingredients in hair care products


Alcohol is one of the most commonly found toxic ingredients in hair care products. We have to consider only when the alcohol is within the first 5 ingredients. It is better to avoid it since it dries out your hair. But some good fatty alcohols are good for the hair strands like cetyl alcohol. Avoid using the product if it has any of the following drying alcohols

  • Ethanol alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Propanol alcohol
  • Alcohol denat
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Isopropanol alcohol
  • Benzyl alcohol
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It is also another carcinogen that leads to cancer. It is found in hair colors and lipstick. Most of the time we don’t see Lead as an ingredient since they are not used as an ingredient. They are used as a contaminant. It is used in the process of manufacturing the product.


These ingredients are found almost in every other hair care product. Different brands use different colors and perfumes that leads to allergies and scalp irritation. These can range from low toxin colors and perfumes to highly toxic colors and perfumes since the ingredient list doesn’t specify the name of the perfume or colors.


These two are the preservatives used in hair care products stating that they are paraben-free. They two are not really gentle on your skin and hair. It actually releases formaldehyde-donors that irritate the respiratory system and causes skin irritation. It can also cause headaches, dizziness, and loss of speech.


Mineral oil is found in most of the baby oil and hair oils sold out there. It is a derivative of crude oil. If you use oils that have mineral oil in them, it just coats our hair and acts as a barrier between moisture and hair, making hair drier instead of conditioning it.


Sodium chloride is used as a thickening agent in shampoos and conditioners containing SLS/SLES. It is the reason why our eye gets irritated once our eye gets contact with the shampoo. Research states that it contributes to hair loss in long run. Shampoos containing Ammonium Laureth Sulfate have ammonium chloride in it.

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These are some of the commonly found toxic ingredients in hair care products. So next time when you purchase a hair care product don’t forget to read the ingredients.


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