Haircare: The Good, the Bad and the Un-natural

Haircare: The Good, the Bad and the Un-natural:

The following may be a little technical, but it needs to be so that you can realize and understand the importance and the dangers of what ingredients are most likely in your current hair care products. At the risk of repeating myself, it is only when we are informed can we make informed choices.

So here’s some information that everyone should know:

Have you heard about Diamine Toluene Sulfate?

• Diamine Toluene Sulfate is found in a high percentage of hair care products and is an extremely potent skin sensitiser.
• The Journal of Carcinogenic Toxicology describes 2,5 diamine toluene sulfate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” toxic to the brain and central nervous system, kidneys and liver.

PEG-3 Cocamid: has been described as a “known human immune system toxicant” yet, this foaming agent is used in many hair products.

What about Aminomethyl Propanol?

• Aminomethyl Propanol, an active ingredient is found in most haircare products and is a pH adjuster. It is generally considered safe at levels of concentrations below 2%.

Unfortunately, many hair products, especially those that require a strong pH adjuster like straighteners or hair color, contain concentrations well above 12% which is considered to be highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic.

There are so many more…..

Here’s another nasty one that most of you should have heard of by now but may not know why it is so dangerous:

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS/SLES):

Sodium lauryl sulfate: is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners. It is present in nearly all shampoos and scalp treatments

Although SLS originates from coconuts, the chemical is anything but natural.

The real problem with SLES/SLS is that the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in SLES/SLS being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic byproduct.

SLS is the sodium salt of lauryl sulfate, and is classified by the environmental Working Group as a “denaturant, surfactant cleansing agent, emulsifier and foamer,” rated as a “moderate hazard.”

Research studies on SLS have shown links to:

• Irritation of the skin and eyes
• Organ toxicity
• Developmental/reproductive toxicity
• Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes
• Possible mutations and cancer


When the word “fragrance” is listed on a label, it means a synthetic fragrance made in a test tube from any of over 200 synthetic chemicals.

These “fragrance” chemicals, which can bio-accumulate in your organs, can cause many symptoms, such as headaches, lung problems, skin irritation, dizziness, memory impairment, rash, and more. They are very cheap, toxic imitations of real herbal scents and unfortunately are found in the majority of non certified organic hair care products.

Imidazolidinyl and Diazolidinyl Urea:

These are the most commonly used preservatives after parabens. They are an established cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology) and release formaldehyde (a toxic chemical).

We have all heard about Synthetic Colors:

Synthetic colors are used in shampoo’s and conditioners to make them colorful. Avoid them at all costs. They can cause allergy, skin and nerve problems.

Synthetic colors are labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a number and color.

The last little nasty ingredient I will talk about today is Triethanolamine (TEA):

Triethanolamine (TEA) is often used in the base of a product and to adjust the pH. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and can be toxic if absorbed into the body over time.

Written by Therese Kerr