Harmful Chemicals in a Shampoo

Except for the price what else do you look out for before buying a beauty product? Mmm.. directions on how to use it, maybe.

Not many of us look for harmful ingredients before buying a quality beauty item. If we are buying a high quality product we take the ingredients for granted. After all with the price they are charging the product should be the best. Right, isn’t it?


But it is not always true. Even the best of products contain certain harmful chemicals. Mentioned below are some chemicals found in almost every shampoo.

Some harmful chemicals found in shampoo are:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is perhaps the most dangerous ingredient found in shampoos and soaps. This detergent is widely used in garage floor cleaners, engine cleaners etc. it is used as a foaming agent in the shampoos. On the other hand Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is the alcohol form of SLS. It is a higher-foaming variation of SLS. Though they share many properties yet SLES is less irritating than SLS.

Harmful effects of SLS and SLES:

• Damage the hair follicle and cause hair fall
• Has protein denaturing properties which may cause skin inflammation
• Threat to immune system
• Enhances allergic response to other toxins
• May cause cataracts in adults
• May hinder in the proper development of children’s eyes.


Diethanolamine (DEA) or Triethonalamine (TEA):

Theses chemicals are used as wetting agents in a shampoo. They help to create a rich lather in a shampoo, which you like. Nitrite is used as a preservative in shampoos. A reaction between these two chemicals (on exposure to oxygen and air) and nitrite can form Nitrosamines, which is a cancer causing compound.

Harmful effects of DEA or TEA:

• Can cause liver and kidney damage
• Potentially a cancer-causing ingredient


Formaldehyde is a known sensitizer. DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium-15, Bronopol are some shampoo ingredients in which it is present.

Harmful effects of Formaldehyde:

• It destroys natural protective oils of the skin and thus causes various skin irritations.
• Burning sensations in the eyes
• Higher percentage of Formaldehyde may also cause chest pain and shortness of breath.
• Longer exposure to this chemical may also cause asthma.


Silicones are used in shampoo to form a thin film on your hair shaft to give a feeling for ‘softness’. Everyone likes the feel of ‘soft hair’ after shampooing right? Well, do check if this softness is coming because of silicones. To find out if a shampoo and conditioner contains silicone or not look at the ingredients on the label. If the ingredients on the label says Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone or silicone, avoid using the products. Remember that Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone are silicone derived emollients. Silicones coat your hair making it look soft and shiny in the short term. However, they slowly start coating hair completely, creating a buildup and effectively sealing off moisture from reaching the cuticle. If you are using silicones shampoo/ conditioner however, be sure to use a clarifying shampoo periodically to prevent their harmful effects.


They are a kind of preservative used in shampoo. Methylparaben, propylparaben, benzylparaben and butylparaben are all parabens which are used in various shampoos.

Harmful effects of Parabens:

• Can cause tumors in breast
• Can cause skin irritations, rashes, eczema etc



They are added in shampoos for fragrance. Whenever you see a word ‘synthetic fragrance’ on a shampoo bottle just remember it is this.

Harmful effects of Phthalates:

• Negative effect on immune system
• Can cause nausea
• Skin rashes
• Hormonal disruptions
• Liver cancers
• Birth defects
• Can affect the central nervous system

So next time you go shopping pay attention to what you are buying.

Which is your favorite shampoo?

Image source: 1, 2, 3

Also read:

Khadi Saffron Reetha Protein Herbal Shampoo Review
Loreal Instant clear Anti Dandruff shampoo review
Lush NEW! Shampoo Bar and American Cream Conditioner Review
Hair Care 3: Tips for Healthy Hair
Fabindia Seabuckthorn Shampoo Review
Dove Intense Damage Therapy- Shampoo and Conditioner Review
Hair Care 2: Shampoo and Conditioner


32 thoughts on “Harmful Chemicals in a Shampoo

  1. i m facing hair fall problem………..and just usign loreal total repair 5……….but dont know what i m putting into my hair…………. ?:) ?:) :sidefrown: :shutmouth: 😯

    1. im was also using Total 5 Repair & my hair falls like anything. :headbang: :headbang: ..if possible, stop using it. :spank: :spank: :spank:

      1. i stopped using it because i just felt it was to good to be true :p , it has LOADS of chemicals and i prefer methi and avley ka pani then this conditioner . I was so happy with the shampoo and conditioner before :/ still if i apply it once in a blue moon, that too just the conditioner my hair is all awesome but i dont use it on a everyday basis .

  2. hawwwwww…… :spank: :spank: :spank: :spank: :spank: to shampooz wid sls/sles…
    :spank: :spank:
    someone tell me the shampoooz w/o ths :weep: :weep: :weep: :weep: :weep: :weep: :weep: :weep: :weep: :weep: :weep:

  3. So many harmful chemicals!! :(( We should go back to good old reetha aanwala hair wash!! Very informative article Era!! :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo: :waytogo:

  4. :shout: 😯 😯 😯 😯 😯 I need to re-check all the items in my shampoo.. otherwise please suggest me a Shampoo or Conditioner which doesn’t contain all these dirty chemicals… :tremble:

  5. You may Fab India Kid’s shampoo range without parabens and sulfates with 20 % discount 😉 . well am serious now, you can use it. I am Using Biotique Kelp shampoo which doesnot contain Sulfates or parabens or any of the above mentioned !! :)) Price is Rs-99 for 120 ml, Rs 165 for 21o ml, good one actually.

  6. I shifted to The Body Shop’s Rain forest Range of Shampooossssss, no silicons, no parabens, no sulphates no colour…. I m just loving it…..
    I MUST THANK NATASHA AND RATI for choosing this shampoooo
    Rati n Natasha this is for u… :-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-*

  7. OMG..m seein pics of Herbal essence in dis post.. r dey harmful shampoo aswell 😯 😯 ..cuz i m using them like ryt nw.. :((

  8. i remember reading somewhere that herbal essences is the same chemical shampoo with some herbal ingredients thrown in. but i have been using shampoos containing sles out of the sheer lack of choice so far. will certainly try biotique sea kelp and body shop rainforest. wat would i do without imbb

  9. Hi Era,
    Nice article……and very informative as well. Yes, apart from TBS Rainforest range shampoo…almost all the shampoos contain parabens..SLES. So i am thinking of going back to old days fashion..shikakai…amla..reetha…..

  10. i have washed my hair with so many shampoos :yikes: after my 8th std i started growing my hair :pompom: but the best i felt that time was nothing :scream: and i am 26 now :preen: but still i cant find the better shampoo yet :jaiho: but i will Biotique Kelp shampoo what tapasvini using thank you for suggestion :thanks:

Leave a Reply to Swati Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *