What’s in Your Shampoo: Preservatives and Parabens You Should Stay Away From

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Modern shampoo formulas are loaded with a plethora of chemicals that your strands never really asked for, like preservatives and parabens. These ingredients are likely to be accumulated by the organism and have a negative impact on health in the long run.

Besides detergents, shampoos have a great number of preservatives listed on their labels. You might wonder what preservatives are and what their main function is. Let’s go through this together.

Preservatives are used to prolong shelf life in hair care products by preventing the growth of bacteria within them. However, the majority of preservatives are harmful and toxic. When it comes to to studying the shampoo label, the most common preservatives are the followings:

  • Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in a wide range of industries and products. It is a human toxin, allergen and carcinogen. Nevertheless, this chemical element is  often listed in shampoo formulas as a preservative. Formaldehyde leads to scalp irritation problems, dermatitis, and severe allergic reactions. Shampoo manufacturers may hide formaldehyde by using the alternative names on the label, namely:  DMDM Hydantoin diazolidinyl urea, Imidazalidol urea, Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, monosodium salt, N-(Hydroxymethyl) glycine and quaternium-15.

  • Parabens 

Parabens are a group of preservatives that are intended to keep hair care products away from spoiling and restrict the growth of harmful bacteria. Paraben preservatives are absorbed by the body, and may affect hormone disorders and tumors. Also these chemicals cause allergy and dermatitis. Searching for parabens on your shampoo ingredients list, look out for the followings: Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

Each and every shampoo contains thickening agents. Thickeners make shampoos viscous and act as foam stabilizers.

The most common thickers are the following ones:

  • Cocamide DEA

Cocamide DEA is a chemically modified form of coconut oil used as a shampoo thickener. This compound is used as a blowing agent and antistatic.

  • Cocamide MEA

Cocamide MEA is another foam booster produced from coconut oil

  • PEG-4 

PEG is the abbreviation that stands for polyethylene glycol, a mixture of compounds that have been bonded together. Each PEG is followed by a number which corresponds to the approximate molecular weight of that compound.

Besides surfactants, preservatives and thickeners, you can find other toxic compounds on the shampoo label which usefulness remains controversial.  Synthetic colors and fragrances added to hair care formula contain thousands of hidden chemicals. 

You’d better ditch shampoos with the following compounds on their label:

  • Diethanolamine 
  • Mineral Oils 

The hair care aisle can be an intriguing place for those who are unable to read and understand shampoo formula properly. When picking out a shampoo, remember that high quality products without harsh stuff  inside the bottle are characterized with 

weak to mild cleansing properties, less lather and absence of color and fragrance.

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