Controversial chemicals in hair care

Liv Butler
Authored by Liv Butler
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2022 - 8:10am

Lately, consumers of hair cosmetics are often attracted by labels such as "sulphates/parabens/silicones free shampoo". But what does that mean? Are these substances harmful to our health in any way? What are sulphates, and are they harmful to health? Are parabens and silicones a threat to our Hair and skin? Whether these ingredients are safe to use is still controversial, as they might not harm us directly but can be dangerous in the long term. Before buying a hair product, take some time to study its composition and be careful with the substances we will talk about below.


The most common sulphates are lauryl sulphate and sodium laurate sulphate.

Many believe the more foam a shampoo makes, the better it is. Sulphates are responsible for forming excessive foam, which gives the impression that the hair will be perfectly clean after using such shampoo. Yes, it will be perfectly clean, but maybe too much. Although sulphates successfully remove all dirt and sebum, they also do a lot of damage. The lack of sebum prevents the natural hydration of the hair; without it, the scalp and hair will be dry. Sulphates are also one of the most irritating components and can weaken hair follicles.

That is why you should swap the foamy shampoo with a 'free-from' shampoo that might not foam so heavily but will surely leave your hair cleaner and keep it healthy. We have discovered a great brand called Ffor hair, which offers natural, free-from hair products that are also vegan and cruelty-free. Their products have beautiful natural scents and great-looking packaging made using recycled plastic.

Check FFOR Hair, hair products here.


You will get beautiful hair immediately after using hair cosmetics with silicones. They will give shine and softness, making the hair seemingly stronger and easier to comb. Yes, but looks are deceiving in this case. Silicones, most often found in shampoos, conditioners, and styling products, coat the hair with a transparent layer but do not hydrate the hair. Hair and scalp suffer under the weight of silicone, get oily more quickly and lack the optimal environment for healthy growth. Silicones do not have long-term benefits for hair.

These ingredients may not be as scary as the others listed on the controversial ingredient list, but they stress and dry out the hair with prolonged use.


Most common parabens are methylparaben and propylparaben. Those ingredients extend cosmetics' shelf life and prevent bacteria growth. In addition to hair cosmetics, you can also find them in various skin care products. Most likely, they will be an ingredient in some body lotions, deodorants or tubes of toothpaste. They are also found in some everyday hygiene products. Therefore, our advice is to avoid them if possible. According to some studies, parabens can lead to the development of breast cancer, and although this has not yet been proven 100%, there is no reason to take risks with their use.

Synthetic perfumes

If your scalp can't tolerate a particular hair product, it is likely the synthetic fragrance to blame. Especially if you have more sensitive skin, synthetic perfume can easily irritate it and cause itching or even eczema.

But that doesn't mean your shampoo, conditioner, or hair mask can't smell good if it doesn't contain perfumes. Many natural hair care brands are perfumed with natural ingredients, such as essential oils and plant extracts.

Isopropyl alcohol

In the composition of perfumes and cosmetics, alcohol will probably not surprise you much. It also has its place here as an effective stabiliser and helps distribute the product evenly on the hair. But try to avoid products that contain isopropyl alcohol. From a health point of view, it does not have a risk, but it can dry your hair and scalp. It sucks the moisture out of your hair and is not particularly suitable for people with sensitive skin.


Another widely used preservatives are the infamous formaldehyde. Although the European Union has prohibited products that contain formaldehyde in hair products, you can still find them in some products. Formaldehydes have been shown to cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. They can penetrate deep into the skin and are known human carcinogens associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Be careful with them!

To summarise

Nowadays, hair care products with natural ingredients are becoming more popular and affordable. Their formula has been tested and improved to ensure they give the same results as conventional hair products. If you swap your regular shampoo for a vegan one or shampoo made using natural ingredients, your hair will thank you, and you will notice a big improvement in its appearance. It will feel more light, lively, and healthy.


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