Quality hair products are formulated with nourishing ingredients that support hair health. Unfortunately, not all products are made with the health of your hair in mind. They may be packed with ingredients that should come nowhere near your hair. Knowing about these ingredients can help you tremendously with your hair care. In this article, you’ll learn about 10 ingredients that you should avoid to keep your hair shiny, supple, and healthy.
Haircare Ingredients to Avoid
Your favorite hair products may look innocent, but unsavory ingredients could be hiding in plain sight right on the labels. This section will reveal 10 ingredients you should avoid for healthy hair.
You’ll find sulfates in the vast majority of shampoos as either sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, or ammonium lauryl sulfate. Sulfates are super cleansers that strip much needed oils from your hair and scalp. Regular use of sulfates can make your hair extremely brittle and dry, leading to split ends and breakage over time.
Isopropyl alcohol should be avoided due to its drying properties. This type of alcohol is so drying to the hair that it can leave you with crunchy, thirsty strands that eventually break off.
Some believe that all oils are without fault, but this is not the case. Mineral oil (also called white mineral oil or paraffin) is not suitable for the hair because it tends to cause buildup. Regularly using products containing mineral oil can suffocate your strands, blocking out moisture.
Soluble silicones are great for sealing in moisture and smoothing the hair - they are also easily washed out. But insoluble silicones are not easily washed away and can quickly build up on the hair. This leads to dull, lifeless strands that are dry and difficult to moisturize.
Insoluble silicones to avoid include:
- Stearyl dimethicone
*There are other insoluble silicones to look out for, and you can explore them in this article.
Petrolatum is often found in cream moisturizers as a sealant. The problem with petrolatum is that, if it is used on chronically dry hair, it seals in dryness and keeps moisture out. Not only that, but this ingredient has the potential to build up on the hair, weighing it down.
You may find waxes in stylers, edge controls, pomades, and other styling products. Like insoluble silicones, waxes coat the hair strands and keep moisture from penetrating the strands. The less wax you use on your hair, the better!
Coal tar is one of those ingredients that many love despite the risks. The ingredient is often used in dandruff shampoos. The issue with coal tar is that it can cause scalp irritation, which may result in severe itchiness - in the most severe cases of scalp irritation, you could experience hair loss.
Zinc Pyrithione is another ingredient found in dandruff shampoos. It has the potential to be highly irritating to your scalp. Some have experienced hair loss due to this ingredient. It should be avoided if at all possible.
Salt sprays have become popular among those who want trendy beachy waves. While salt sprays and other salt-containing hair products may deliver the look you want, they do more harm than good. These sprays can dry your hair out severely, leading to fragile strands that break easily.
Countless products have “fragrance” on their labels, meaning that they have an artificial fragrance. Not only are companies not required to disclose the specific chemicals that make up the fragrance, but fragrances are often irritating to your scalp. Using products with artificial fragrances can lead to scalp itching, wounds, and hair loss.
Considerations Based on Hair Type
The ingredients above are in tons of hair products, and they can be difficult to avoid. You may be wondering whether the ingredients should be avoided altogether. While all of the above ingredients are better off avoided completely, they may have a more pronounced effect on certain hair types.
Hair Dehydrators: Salt, Sulfates, Isopropyl Alcohol
Drying ingredients like salt, sulfates, and isopropyl alcohol will be more damaging to type 3 (curly) hair and type 4 (coily) hair than any other hair type. This is because these hair types have a predisposition to dryness and are more sensitive to dehydrating ingredients. Still, type 1 (straight hair) and type 2 (wavy hair) could become damaged due to the drying nature of these ingredients.
Moisture Blockers: Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Insoluble Silicones and Waxes
Mineral oil, petrolatum, and waxes keep moisture from penetrating the strands. Due to the inherently dry nature of type 3 (curly) hair and type 4 (coily) hair, using products containing these ingredients can quickly dry your hair out to the point of extreme brittleness. Straight or wavy hair may not be as severely affected by these ingredients. However, it’s still a good idea to stay away from these ingredients, no matter your hair type, if you want healthy hair.
*All of the other ingredients mentioned in the previous section may affect all hair types equally.
Hair Care Routine Considerations
Your hair care routine also affects how harmful the ingredients are for your hair’s health.
Insoluble Silicones Assist in Heat Styling
If you regularly heat style your hair, insoluble silicones can be protective. Though they should be avoided if possible, they do have merit when it comes to protecting the hair from harsh elements. Still, they should be avoided in the majority of cases since they form a barrier that blocks out moisture.
Wash Your Hair Thoroughly
If you decide to use any of the above ingredients in your hair routine, make sure that your wash day is thorough so that the effects of the no-no ingredients won’t stick around. Leaving any of the ingredients behind after you wash your hair can be detrimental to your hair's health.
Check your hair product ingredients and be mindful of the 10 ingredients we mentioned earlier. You’re better off avoiding all of the ingredients if you want to keep your hair in tip top shape. We hope that this article is helpful to you as you seek out healthy hair information.
Author: Andrea Reyes
Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of NaturallyTextured.com, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.