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Hair Product Ingredients To Avoid

Almost every hair care product is bound to have one of these harmful ingredients in it. Make sure the hair care product brand you use is free of all the following! Research your product before you buy with an app! Try CodeCheck or CosmEthics! Or look up your product on any beauty database, try or

Keeping Natural Is Key!

With so many products and ingredients out there, keep your products as simple as possible! A recent Environmental Research study of 18 hair products, 84 percent of the chemicals detected, weren't listed on the label! As well as the FDA banned or restricted the use of these 11 ingredients: bithionol, chlorofluorocarbon propellants, chloroform, halogenated salicylanilides (di-, tri-, metabromsalan and tetrachlorosalicyanilide), hexachlorophene, mercury compounds, methylene chloride, prohibited cattle materials, sunscreens in cosmetics, vinyl chloride, zirconium-containing complexes. The EU has banned more than 1,000.

Make sure your hair is getting the nourishment it needs to fight off any chemicals or toxins it encounters, consider sticking to all natural, plant derived supplements, non-toxic ingredients, such as argan oil, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, biotin, castor oil, coconut oil, hydrolyzed keratin, jojoba oil, mango butter, olive oil, palm oil, shea butter, tea tree oil, Vitamins B5, D, and E.

Do your own bit of research and discover which essential oils, fruit seeds, vegetables, and vitamins to make your own all natural product. Check out Mane Addicts DIY Natural Hair Cleanser Recipes at for more ideas. You'd be surprised at what your common kitchen ingredients could do for you!



Parabens, otherwise known as xenoestrogens and smiliar to phthalates, are a preservative used to extend the shelf life of products, preventing the growth of bacteria and mold. They come in many forms and names such as: benzylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, parahydroxybenzoate, and proplyparaben. Not only have parabens been known as endocrine disruptors (controls estrogen, progestrogen, cortisol, testosterone, insulin, and thyroid hormones,) disrupting vital hormones, which is can trigger the growth of tumors and cancer. A 2004 study found large traces of parabens in tumors of cancer patients. Naturally, whatever we wash off our face, hair, and bodies, goes down our drain and into our oceans, subsequently affecting the environment and marine life as well as ourselves. Cancer usually means some sort of dysregulated immune signaling, which having a properly working immune signaling is extremely crucial for healthy follicle cycling.

Sulfates (SLS & SLES):

Sulfates are used for cleansing and foaming in bathroom products due to how efficiently they dissolve oils. It has a huge potential for interacting and combing with other chemcials to form into a carcinogen. Sulfates are also known as sodium laureate sulfate, ammonium laureate sulfate, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Sulfates may be good at cleaning but definitely something you want to stay far away from using on your body and hair. It overly strips your hair, taking all oils, the healthy ones too, fading color faster, leaving it brittle and increasing frizz, and when processed in the body, sulfates are broken down and leave a residue in the heart, brain, kidneys, and lungs.

According to the Journal of the American College of Toxicology, sulfates can damage the immune system, cause separation of skin layers, and rashes. Sulfates have been found to break down proteins in the body which can lead to serious damage on cell membranes.


Phthalates, otherwise sneakily disguised as fragrances, are found in nearly everywhere from cosmetics to household cleaners. Phthalates are used as a binding agent, to dissolve ingredients, improve texture like making plastic more flexible, such as in hairsprays. There are dozens of phthalates out there, all have degenerative effects on the body, and not only a known endocrine disruptor but has been linked to developmental issues such as autism, low IQ, type 2 diabetes, asthma, male infertility, reproductive birth defects, risk of breast cancer, and early breast development in girls.

This class of chemicals goes by several monikers: diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl phthalate (DnBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP),butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), di-butyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), diisononyl phthalate (DiNP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), dipentyl phthalate (DPP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-isohexyl phthalate, dicyclohexyl phthalate (DcHP), di-isoheptyl phthalate, and di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP). In 2009, California banned the use of phthalates in toy manufacturing due after finding correlations to cancer.

Synthetic Fragrances:

Fragrances, or parfums, are known to lead to a wide range of skin reactions, whether it be redness, itching, hives, or dermatitis. Always proceed with caution when products are labeled with "fragrance," for the company legally does not have to list the ingredients of said fragrance. Which typically means there's an array of potential irritants hidden in any artificially made fragrance formula. More than 95% of chemicals in synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals.


Phosphates are synthetic chemicals often found in the form of salts and act as buffering agents, cleaning agents, fragrance agents, and food additives. A proven side effect includes heart disease and neurotoxicity.

Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasing Agents:

Formaldehyde is a vapor that is found in hair products used for smoothing, growing, preserving, and cleansing. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. Used as preservatives to kill micro-organisms and their growth in products.

Formaldehyde goes by a few names such as Formalin (the liquid form of formaldehyde), DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Formic aldehyde, Glyoxal, Imidazolidinyl urea, Methanal, Methylene glycol, Methylene oxide, Oxomethane, Oxymethylene, Paraform, Polyoxymethylene urea, Quaternium-15, and Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. The formaldehyde releasing agents are DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, quaternium 15, bronopol, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3 dioxane, and hydroxymethylglycinate. Traces can also be found in other ingredients such as: cleansing agents like laurel sulfate, and as a preservative in keratin treatment ingredients like methylenemethilene glycol or glyoxylic acid

Coal Tar:

Synthetic Colors, Coal tar, or petroleum-derived dyes contain a variety of chemicals and metals like arsenic, aluminum substrate, lead, salt, and petroleum, which have been linked to cancer and brain damage, are used to give artificial color to cosmetics. Due to the high potential for irritation, most coal dyes have been banned and connot be used but be sure to check the ingredients label before checking out. Also known as: P-phenylenediamine, C.I. (followed by a five digit number), FD&C or D&C (followed by a color name and number; i.e. D&C Red 27 or FD&C Blue 1)

Mineral Oil:

Mineral oil, otherwise known as paraffin or white mineral oil, and petrolem jelly both contain high levels of PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons) and is used in many cosmetic formulations, such as in hair treatments to restore shine, reduce tangles, and prevent split ends. It provides a basic protective, glossy coating so much it suffocates the hair, it can't penetrate the hair shaft therefore, won't be effective at treating exisiting damage. These harsh ingredients can cause acne, hindered skin respiration, imbalanced oil levels in your scalp, skin irritation, and possibly nonmelanoma skin cancer. Coconut Oil on the other hand, is one of the most effective natural ingredients for maintaining healthy hair and preventing hair loss, with easy absorption.

Denatured Alcohols:

Denatured alcohols are extremely drying of the scalp, leading to breakage and split ends. Stay away from these to keep your hair healthy and hydrated. Common denatured alcohols: Alcohol Denat, Ethanol, Propyl, Propanol, Isopropyl, SD Alcohol 3-A, SD Alcohol 30, SD Alcohol 39-B, SD Alcohol 39-C, SD Alcohol 40-B, SD Alcohol 40-C.

PVP/VA Copolymer:

PVP/VA copolymer is derived from petroleum and known to cause scalp irritation and respiratory issues. This common ingredient is found in hair sprays, and hair products that gives hair it's 'hold factor.'


Silicones are emollient slip agents which act as a protective seal as it coats hair strands, locking in moisture and giving hair a glossy, smooth shine. Silicones are known to weigh down your hair, since it adds an exterior seal, it actually creates a buildup of products, dirt, and residue clogging pores, drying the scalp, and causing irritation, hence preventing nutrients and moisture from penetrating the hair shaft. Try opting for a conditioner, mask, or serum that contains cold-pressed, plant-derived oils such as coconut oil, Moroccan argan oil, and marula oil. Other common silicones: Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Phenyl trimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane.

Para-Phenylenediamine (PPD):

PPD is a chemical compound found in most permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes, and known to potentially cause allergic reactions and increase UV sensitivity.

Retinol and Retinyl Palmitate:

A very common ingredient in skin and beauty products but has correlations with many skin irritations such as peeling, scaling, redness, and itching. As well as developmental and reproductive toxicity, and enhance photocarcinogenicity (heightening the risk of cancer when exposed to UV rays.)


Toluene, or benzene is typically used as a solvent to dissolve paint and paint thinner, this chemical can be found in some hair color/bleaching products. Commonly found in hair dyes, this immune - signalling disruptor can affect the respiratory system, irritate the skin, and even cause developmental damage for pregnant mothers. According to the American Cancer Society, benzene is known to cause cancer such as leukemia. Studies show a strong link between benzene, immune system toxicity, leukemia, and other cancers of blood cells. Despite the risks, benzene is still one of the top 20 most common chemicals in the US. Also labeled as: tuluol, phenylmethane, and methylbenzene.


Triclosan (TCS) is a common antimicrobial chemical used in personal care products, which builds up on the scalp over time, and is also a known endocrine disruptor, skin irritant, and suspected carcinogen. The US banned Triclosan in handsoaps but it is still allowed in shampoos, toothpastes, and deordorants. The FDA proved that this chemical does not have any special disinfecting properties from plain soap or water, hence rendered useless.

Polyethylene glycol (PEGs):

Polyethylene glycol is added to many hair care products as a thickening agent, but tend to strip moisture of the hair, making it coarse. The International Journal of Toxicology by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review reported that carcinogenic ingredients were found in various PEG compounds, some classifying as developmental toxicants.

Diethanolamine & Triethanolamine:

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) belong to a group of chemicals referred as ethanolamines, which become harmful when combined with preservatives, causing the chemical breakdown of nitrogen. This reaction results in nitrosamines, which are known human carcinogens that may cause kidney and liver cancer. DEA also reacts with other ingredients to form N-nitrosodiethanolamine, which is absorbed through the skin, accumulating in the liver, contributing to organ toxicity; weighing down basic bodily functions, having adverse affects on the neural system. DEA can enter the bloodstream, meaning for expecting mothers, that her fetus can have developmental issues such as poor memory function or permanent mental disability.

DEA and TEA function as emulsifiers or foaming agents that reduces a products pH level to adjust surface tension of water, making water-soluble and oil-soluble ingredients can blend together. The National Toxicology Program and the FDA did a study that linked DEA to cancer. Otherwise known as Cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA-Cetyl Phosphate, DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate, Lauramide DEA, Linoleamide MEA, Monoethanolamine, Myristamide DEA, Oleamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, TEA-Lauryl Sulfate.

Methylisothiazolinone & Methylchloroisothiazolinone:

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT) are two common preservatives in beauty products. Studies showed that exposure to high concentrations of MIT had adverse affects on bodily functions. Intestines and lungs became swollen and reddened, pointing to organ toxicity which further affects essential functions such as digestion, respiration, and immunity.

Other harmful toxins include:

Stay away from Hydroquinone, Triclocarban, and more.

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