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Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Hair Products

When was the last time you read the ingredients list on your hair products? After today, you’ll definitely start reading them before purchasing your next shampoo or conditioner! Often hidden in a long list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients and acronyms, harmful chemicals can have adverse effects on your hair and body.

It’s time to revamp your haircare routine by opting for organic or natural haircare products that focus on using ingredients that are better for and less harsh on your hair. Eliminate your use of synthetic products filled with substances that can damage your hair over time. When you switch from conventional to clean hair products, you can feel good about using non-toxic ingredients on your strands and scalp.

Ready to banish those harsh chemicals for good? Working in the hair industry for years has led me to realize that natural haircare products are the best for happy and healthy hair! Use this guide on ingredients to avoid in hair products to ensure you’re not harming your hair (and you’re using the best products for your hair extensions.).

Look out for these harmful ingredients in your hair products before purchasing:


Whether to use shampoo containing sulfates is a hotly debated topic. While it does its job of removing oil from your hair, hair professionals have realized that it does this too well. It can strip all of the natural oils from your hair and scalp, leaving your hair dry, which can cause it to overcompensate for the lack of oil by producing more. This leads to a vicious cycle of over-washing hair when it looks oily due to the amounts of sulfate that dry it out completely. Using sulfates on your hair long-term can result in strands that are prone to damage, breakage, and split ends. Luckily, many brands have started selling sulfate-free versions of their products, so they’re now widely available!

On the label: SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), SLES (sodium laureth sulfate), and ALS (ammonium lauryl sulfate)


Also commonly found in hair products are various forms of parabens. They’re used as a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria in these products. While generally deemed safe to use, some studies have shown that parabens mimic the function of the hormone estrogen, which can increase the risk of breast cancer. Parabens in haircare products are absorbed into your body through your scalp and can disrupt your endocrine system. If you want to be extra careful about what goes into your body, look for labels that read “paraben-free” as more brands become aware of the risk associated with parabens.

On the label: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, iso-butylparaben


This is an ingredient you’ll most often see in hair conditioning products. Silicones are used to add a protective layer to your strands to leave a smooth and shiny finish. Sounds harmless, right? However, they can weigh your hair down by not allowing moisture to penetrate the hair shaft, causing your hair to dry out over time. One of the most widely used silicones, dimethicone, can cause product buildup in your hair leading to clogged pores and scalp irritation. An alternative to silicones includes products that use plant-derived oils that moisturize your hair and scalp naturally.

On the label: dimethicone, cyclomethicone, phenyl trimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane


This ingredient is often added to make the fragrances in hair products last longer. It’s also used in hairsprays to reduce stiffness and form a flexible film. Studies have found phthalates to be an endocrine disruptor affecting hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. This can be a tricky one to avoid as it’s often disguised in the “fragrance” ingredient. Unfortunately, in the US, manufacturers are not required to list phthalates, so you’ll have to look for products that specifically say phthalate-free or fragrance-free, or reach out to a specific brand to find out the exact ingredients.

On the label: DBP (dibutyl phthalate), DMP (dimethyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate)

Use Natural Haircare Products for Healthy Hair

natural haircare products

Taking control over which products you use on your hair is empowering! Being informed on the ingredients to avoid in hair products is the first step to improving your hair health. Always choose products that make you feel comfortable and safe using on your hair and body.

My hair clients often ask about natural haircare products that I recommend and use at my salon. I've found that Iles Formula and AIIR hair products provide professional results with clean ingredients. These products are free from harsh chemicals that can cause damage to your strands, and they leave your hair shiny and healthy.

Visit my online shop for natural hair products such as shampoo, conditioner, serums, and more to add clean beauty to your routine!


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