Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid When Purchasing Hair Products

When it comes to overall health and wellness, most people are now reading the ingredients label on the food they buy— but are they also reading the ingredients label on other products, such as skincare and hair products?

Ingredients to Avoid When Purchasing Hair Products

Reading the label on these products is just as important as reading food labels because even though these products aren’t being ingested, they can still be absorbed by the body through the skin and scalp. With that being said, here are the top 10 ingredients to avoid when purchasing hair products.

Ingredients to Avoid When Purchasing Hair Products


Believe it or not, some hair products contain isopropyl alcohol, which is known to be extremely drying for both skin and hair. Propanol is another type of drying alcohol that can also be found in some hair products. 

If you suffer from dry hair, you should definitely try to avoid products with these ingredients, as they can cause hair to become even more brittle. On the other hand, there are “moisturizing” alcohols such as cetearyl and cetyl alcohol, which aren’t known to cause dry and brittle hair.

DMDM Hydantoin

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), DMDM hydantoin is a preservative used in many hair products that are also classified as a formaldehyde releaser. Formaldehyde itself has long been banned for hair, skincare, and even furniture, but formaldehyde releasers are still being used in many products in the U.S. Formaldehyde is found in a variety of products and occurs naturally in the environment, but increased exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to cancer.

RelatedHow To Rejuvenate Your Skin

Diazolidinyl Urea

Diazolidinyl urea is another type of formaldehyde releaser that is found in many beauty products. Approximately 20% of beauty products in the U.S. contain some type of formaldehyde releaser, so it’s important to understand the different types. Other examples include:

  • Quaternium-15
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Bronopol


Parabens are a type of preservative that helps increase the shelf life of hair and skin care products, preventing bacteria from growing. Although this is necessary to ensure that products don’t go bad too quickly, parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-) have also been found to increase the risk of breast and uterine cancers by mimicking the estrogen hormone.


This is a common ingredient in many products because it helps increase spreadability. They also help fragrances stick to the hair, scalp, and skin. However, they’re also classified as endocrine disruptors, meaning that they harm the endocrine system. Endocrine disruptors also mimic hormones and can cause early puberty in girls and lowered sperm count in men.


Resorcinol is a common ingredient in many bleaching agents, so those looking to bleach their hair should look for (and avoid) this ingredient in the products they choose. It’s also classified as an immuno-toxic ingredient, meaning that it can damage the immune system.

Related: Best Foot Massager For Diabetics

Selenium Sulfide

Selenium sulfide (not to be confused with a sulfate) is a common ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos. Unfortunately, this ingredient has also been linked to cancer, while lab tests on mice have been proven to cause tumorous growth.

Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide is a very corrosive material, and it’s one of the main ingredients in chemical hair relaxers. It’s strong enough to cause burns on the scalp and skin in any concentration. Formaldehyde releasers are also found in chemical hair relaxers and have been linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer in women who have used them. Contact a product liability lawyer if you believe that a chemical hair relaxer caused your cancer.


Toluene can be found in most hair dyes, but it can also be toxic to the nervous, immune, and reproductive systems. Expecting mothers should especially avoid this product in their hair dyes, and opt for a natural alternative, such as henna hair dye. Toluene can also be disguised under the names:

  • Toluol
  • Phenylmethane
  • Benzene


Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and thus has been removed from many antibacterial hand soaps. Unfortunately, it can still be found in some shampoos, deodorants, and toothpaste. It also has the potential to build up in fat cells and cause toxicity.

Honorable mentions include sulfates (which are harsh cleansers that can be drying) and silicones (which can cause buildup on the hair if used too often). However, like alcohol, these products don’t cause any damage to your overall health. The other nine ingredients on this list have the potential to be harmful to your health, so it’s best to avoid these ingredients— in your hair products, skincare products, etc.— as much as possible.

Previous Post Next Post