With so much focus on health now days a lot of us are asking questions about what’s really in the products that we’re using everyday. One thing that we do know for sure is that parabens are ingredients we don’t want in our hair products. The question we’re answering in this article is how bad are parabens for your hair?
Parabens are preservatives mostly found in cosmetics and hair products. There are many different types of parabens, namely, butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, and isobutylparaben. Why do people use them? They are less costly and they mimic microbial agents in plants. The downside of having parabens in your products is that they can be absorbed through the skin. Intake of parabens is a possible concern because studies have shown that parabens have weak estrogen-like properties. Estrogen is a female hormone known to cause breast cells to grow and divide. It’s also been proven to cause damage to the hair and scalp– which is a definite NO-NO!
Risks associated with Parabens:
The biggest reason why you want to avoid parabens is because they are easily absorbed through your skin and are harmful to your scalp. Recent research found that parabens were often in the urine and blood stream of people using products containing parabens. This just means that what you’re putting on your hair and scalp often gets into your pores and blood. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re using on your body.
Parabens can cause a number of problems for your hair including drying, irritating your scalp, fading your color, and even hair loss. Since they are generally unsafe, it is best to avoid parabens until proven otherwise.
Along with parabens, there are other harmful ingredients you should avoid using. One other ingredient type, benzophenones, are commonly found in hair products can cause scalp irritation, premature scalp aging, and even cancers. I know this may seem scary but just get in the habit of checking the label of your products.
Parabens can cause allergic reactions and exacerbate some skin conditions. With all the doubt being cast on the safety of parabens, it is wise to switch to a paraben-free hair products. These products will typically indicate that on the label and if they don’t you can read the back label to be sure.
So which ingredients should you definitely avoid?
You can click here to read more on what to look for and what to avoid , but here’s a short list:
- Sodium laurel / laureth sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, sodium salt sulfuric acid, A12-00356, Akyposal SDS, Aquarex ME, and Aquarex methyl. According to Livestrong.com there’s a laundry list of healthcare issues associated with exposure to this deadly chemical, least of which is the severe damage it does to hair by drying it out.
- Isopropyl Alcohol is essentially rubbing alcohol. It’s great for cleaning your skin in preparation for a shot or maybe getting a tattoo but it’s horrible for your hair. It removes all of the good, natural oils in your hair. Over time, this will make your hair weaker and cause it to break.
- Propylene glycol (PG) is another common hair ingredient in shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. However, it’s probably one of the ingredients that will cause irritation to your scalp, in addition to breaking down healthy hair proteins.
- PEG or Polyethylene Glycol is traditionally used in cleaning products intended to remove grease stains (such as oven cleaners), however, it will make your hair brittle over time. This is a safe ingredient but it’s not something you want in your hair.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) Triethanolamine (TEA) stabilize the pH of hair products, and are common allergens and eye irritants.
- Formaldehyde is another preservative and extremely irritating to the skin and eyes. It is a known animal carcinogen, and may increase cancer risk for humans as well.
- Fragrance is a used as a term to cover a number of ingredients that produce a specific scent in products. This is one to be mindful of because even though it may be listed as one ingredient it can often include many chemicals. If a product is truly natural it will not have fragrance or if it does has fragrance it will say “natural fragrance” meaning that it was derived from natural ingredients in the product.
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