Ingredients in Shampoo to Avoid


Most of us take care when deciding what to put in our bodies, and the same care should be taken when choosing what to put on our bodies. There are ingredients in personal care products, such as shampoo, that should be avoided for good health.


  • One of the most ubiquitous ingredients in personal care products, from makeup to toothpaste to shampoo, is paraben. This synthetic preservative is used in pretty much everything we use to cleanse, moisturize and beautify our bodies. In fact, when the Centers for Disease Control tested the urine in a group of 100 adults, scientists found parabens in nearly all of them. So why is this bad? Parabens are hormone disrupters and were found in 19 out of 20 tumors in women with breast cancer. When reading your ingredient label, look for anything with the suffix "-paraben." Methylparaben and propylparaben are most common.

Petroleum-Based Ingredients

  • A study found that 22 percent of all cosmetics may be tainted with 1,4-dioxane, a cancer-causing petroleum-based ingredient. Read labels and look for one of the 56 ingredients that contain this contaminant, including sodium laureth sulfate and others with the suffix "-PEG," "-xynol," "ceteareth" and "oleth." To be extra cautious, check the product's rating on Skin Deep ( for more information.


  • We all want our hair to smell terrific, but at what cost? When choosing your shampoo, avoid synthetic fragrances that are not regulated by any government agency. What is considered a "trade secret" is made up of substances that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. So go fragrance-free, or choose a shampoo with natural scents from your local health food store.

Propylene Glycol

  • A skin and eye irritant, propylene glycol is a synthetic ingredient used to retain moisture. It's also made of non-renewable fossil fuels and it's not biodegradable, so just say no to this Earth-damaging ingredient.


  • Luckily, there are a number of shampoos available that don't contain any of these ingredients. Some are pricier, but more-affordable versions are in demand and beginning to show up on store shelves. Your best bet is going to be a health food store, or a retailer such as Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. However, traditional drugstores are stocking organic and natural products that are absent these ingredients. Take caution: Just because a bottle of shampoo is advertised as natural and organic doesn't mean it won't contain one of these ingredients. Always read the label.


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