7 Shampoo Ingredients You Should Know about ...

Most people know that some shampoo ingredients are a little controversial – and some are downright hated. But do you know which ones, and why? Understanding shampoo can seem an odd challenge, and the price between ‘bad’ shampoos and ‘good’ ones can seem drastic. There’s even a whole community that believes you should make your own shampoo. If you don’t have time for that, here are the shampoo ingredients causing the storm – and what they are.

1. Sulfates…

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As shampoo ingredients go, sulfates are probably the most well known. They are added to a large number of shampoos to give them that foamy texture that we are all so familiar with – but that might not be good. Sulfates are actually quite strong chemical detergents, and are often used in dishwasher tablets or sink cleaner. So it’s no wonder they can cause redness, itching and scalp irritation, then.

2. Formaldehyde…

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Formaldehyde is a chemical that is often used to preserve things, as it is very good at killing a wide variety of bacteria. It’s also a carcinogen, though, and it’s a big irritant. Get it in your eyes, and it will hurt! It can also cause skin irritations, rashes and damage to the respiratory system.

3. Isopropyl Alcohol…

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Isopropyl alcohol is actually derived from petroleum, and is very good at dissolving and cleaning oils. That’s why it's used in shampoos – it cuts through hair grease, and leaves your hair looking clean and shiny. Isopropyl alcohol isn’t just a shampoo ingredient, though – it’s also used in antifreeze and shellac, leading some people to believe that it shouldn’t be applied to the head. Like all other types of alcohol, it’s very dehydrating and strips the hair of moisture, which can cause damage.

4. Propylene Glycol…

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This is a detergent that does the actual ‘washing’ of your hair. It penetrates hair in order to clean it and leave it looking refreshed, but in the process, it can break down proteins in the hair and make it weak and lusterless. It also irritates the eyes and skin.

5. Nuts…

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Unless you’ve got a nut allergy, these are actually good. Jojoba, shea and avocado are often added to shampoos because they naturally add shine and moisture, and leave hair looking and smelling good. Nut oils are also great for removing oily build ups, which can make them a great replacement for isopropyl alcohol.

6. Panthenol…

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Without getting all technical and starting to draw out proteins, panthenol is a form of vitamin B. It’s very good for the hair, thickening hair follicles to make it look healthier and glossier. Shampoos often add this to help hair retain moisture and shine.

7. Acidic Ingredients…

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These are often spotted as one of the shampoo ingredients to avoid, but acidic ingredients are actually good for your hair. Sodium citrate and citric acid are the most common forms, and both help to keep shampoo at the right acidity, which is essential for washing away dirt and oil. They also cause hair cuticles to flatten, which smooths hair and prevents frizz.

See? Shampoo ingredients can feel complex, but they actually aren’t that bad. Look for one that contains as many of the latter three ingredients and as few of the first four as possible, and your hair and skin will thank you for it. I’m still tempted to try making my own shampoo, though – have you done it?

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