Not So Healthy Hair Products

For more information on the chemicals found in every day toiletries read, Toxic Toiletries and for healthy solutions to these problems read Homemade Solutions for Toxic Toiletries.

I set out on a quest. A quest to find eco-friendly hair products. It was quite a task. The information isn’t as readily available as some because there are so many different products and chemicals that it’s impossible to know about them all much less to know whether they are toxic or not.

More than 10,000 ingredients are allowed for use in personal care products — and the average woman wears 515 of them every day, according to a 2009 British study that looked at the routines of over 2,000 women. Very little is known about the health effects of these chemicals. More than 90% have never been tested for their effects on human health, and complete toxicity data are available for only 7% of them. Even though government agencies are aware of the health hazards of some ingredients, such as hydroquinone or phthalates, they are still allowed in personal care products.

I wasn’t sure how to go about this project. There are thousands of kinds of chemicals that are used in thousands of different kinds of products. I obviously couldn’t look up each one, but I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. I just started looking for different information under different tags and whatnots. I found a website that rated thousands of the different products. They had them rated by how good it was for people’s health, environment and its social policies. I started looking at the different products that I used thinking that it was a pretty good starting point.  I use a couple of different products, heat protecting spray for hair straightening, a serum that that I use before I dry my hair to help with frizz, when I curl my hair I use some curl lock moose stuff. The heat protecting spray is made by CHI. My mom found a good sale and got me a bunch. The other stuff I use to use a brand called DesignLine and I use it simply because it was kind that was used at the salon I went to. I don’t know much about the different brands and which ones worked the best, so I just used stuff that I knew would work.


CHI: they didn’t list the exact product that I used, but all the products from this brand had the same general ratings. Overall, it was rated 3.6. For health, 4.0 and it had five products that could raise health concern. For environment, 3.2, and social policies 3.5. All ratings are out of ten.

Not looking so good for me.

Biolage Shampoo and Conditioner: Overall, 5.8. For health 4.0, 3 chemicals that could raise concern. Environment 7.2, Social policies 6.2.

The other products that I use weren’t available.

The good thing about this site is that it gives better alternatives that are similar to the things that you’re already using. And it doesn’t just rate hair products, but cleaners, appliances, electronics, baby food, all kinds of what nots. And it seems to be a reliable source unlike most rating sites that seem to be swayed with bribes and what nots. This could come very useful in the future.

I found some good information about what you should avoid when looking at hair styling products. On this website there was a list of other toxins that you should avoid and why, but it was too long for one post and I doubt that anyone would want to read it anyways, but the link is there for anyone who does.

Here is a very basic list of the hazardous chemicals that you should try to avoid. Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), a plastic polymer TEA, and potentially toxic FD&C colours. Ethoxylated alcohols and PEG compounds, also common in hair styling products may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Parabens, which can disrupt the endocrine system, are used as preservatives in hair sprays, and DMDM hydantoin, a formaldehyde releasing chemical, is a popular preservative in other styling products such as mousses. Fragrance, which is a mixture of many unknown toxins, is added to most conventional hair styling products.

This website also took the huge list that I mentioned before and found products that don’t include any of those toxins. It was a pretty good sized list and is divided into two groups. Best and good. The best list has the least amount of chemicals or none at all while the good selections have a minimal amount.

Here is list for Hair Styling Products and it includes hair sprays, styling gels, and mousses.

They also have some other good information, so check it out.

Shampoos frequently contain harsh detergents, chemical fragrances and numerous irritating and carcinogenic compounds. Of particular concern are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives such as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidiazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea, which are used in many shampoos and conditioners to kill bacteria and reduce the risk of skin infections. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. Parabens, endocrine disrupting chemicals which have been found in breast tumour tissue, are also used as preservatives in many shampoos and hair products.

In addition, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, which are used to create foam in shampoos, are also ingredients of concern. Both are irritants, which can be contaminated with ethylene dioxide, a known carcinogen, and 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. Ammonium laureth sulfate, sometimes used as a substitute, may also be similarly contaminated. Other potentially harmful ingredients frequently used in conventional shampoos include TEA, which can release carcinogenic nitrosamines,propylene glycol, an allergen and skin irritant, and the preservatives, methylisothiazoline and methylchlorothiazoline, which have shown evidence of being neurotoxic in animal studies. Carcinogenic coal tar may be added as a biocide to some anti-dandruff shampoos.

Here is the link for the best and better environmentally friendly and healthier shampoos

Most mainstream and many “natural” conditioners rely on quaternary compounds to produce thicker, tangle-free silky hair. These compounds – cetrimonium bromide and quaternium 18 – can be irritating to eyes and skin. Quaternary compounds and other preservatives found in conditioners, such as DMDM hydantoin, imidiazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea, release formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. Other ingredients to avoid: carcinogenic coal tar colours (FD&C), parabens, ceteareth 20, propylene glycol, cinnamate sunscreens, and retinyl palmitate. Most conventional conditioners contain fragrance, a synthetic mix likely to include endocrine disrupting phthalates and other hazardous chemicals.

Here is a list for the best and better conditioners.

At the bottom of each list there are some homemade alternatives.


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