Before You Buy Your Next Shampoo…

Before You Buy Your Next Shampoo

I want to tell you about a very important relationship I have.  With my hair.  Seriously.  We have been through A LOT together.  Ironing (yes, a real iron), “straightening” perms, keratin treatments, highlights, lowlights, the list goes on and on.  I have spent probably frightening amounts of money on any product that promised to combat my frizz and straighten my curly locks.  When I say I can’t hang out because I need to wash my hair, I swear I’m not trying to avoid you.  For one hour a week I hold my hair hostage until it is as straight and frizz free as I can possibly make it.  (And for those that are saying to just embrace my curly roots, no pun intended, I say, if only it were really that easy).

Unfortunately the more I have read and learned about common, and potentially harmful, ingredients in our hair products, the more I am realizing that it hasn’t been my hair that has been the problem, its what I have been putting into it.  I always assumed that if I was buying shampoo that said sulfate free, I was good.  Unfortunately that’s just not the case.  Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt’s book “No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products” was eye-opening for me. Many of these “red flag” ingredients will probably look familiar to you if you’ve read my Mommy Scientist Series.  Unfortunately, these common culprit ingredients are in too many of our products!

Ingredients to watch out for:

  • A common ingredient in most store-bought shampoos is detergent.  Yep, detergent. Or Surfactants as they are more commonly called. You can find them listed as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate.  Basically, this is the “cleaning” agent that you think is making your hair squeaky clean.  The reality is that while these surfactants are trapping and washing away dirt and oil, they also strip away the hairs natural oil, making it limp and dry.  And thus creating the need for more products…
  • Parabens are the preservatives in your products.  They will likely show up on the ingredients list as Methylparaben and Propylparaben. Parabens have been linked to thyroid and estrogen level issues
  • Fragrance: Yep, the things that make your product smell pretty can be a minefield of different chemicals.  Manufacturers are not required to list the specific ingredients that make up the fragrance.  Just by seeing the word fragrance in your product could mean there are dozens, or hundreds, more chemicals within your product.
  • Phthalates are used as a softener in many cosmetics products as well as toys.  They are known endocrine disruptors.  You can find them listed with a variety of prefix’s attached to the word phthalate but unfortunately just buying a product that doesn’t have a phthalate  listed in it does not mean it isn’t in there.  Phthalate’s can also be in the fragrance ingredients in your product.

Ok, if you’re anything like me, your mind is probably going into freak out mode. Please don’t freak out though.  And don’t go dumping out every hair product you own.  Our best defense is becoming more aware, informed consumers.  Start slow.  Avoid products that have a million ingredients in them that you can’t pronounce.  It’s a gradual process. Experimenting with different types of products comes with A LOT of trial and error and there’s no one size fits all solution.  Fortunately, many of my new favorite cleaner hair products are things that I have taken right out of my pantry.

Does this mean that you should never buy a hair product from the store again?

Of course not.  Fortunately there are a lot more options out there today when it comes to safe, organic cosmetics and hair care lines.

Are these products expensive?

Some of these store-bought products can definitely be a little pricey, and not as easily accessible as many of the common brands we are used to seeing.  Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank stocking up on these products because there are also many hair product alternatives that you probably already have in your kitchen pantry including honey, coconut oil, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda.

Which store-bought products should I ditch and what should I replace them with?

Good question! For the sake of avoiding information overload, I’ll save it for my next post about how to make smarter hair care choices.  It includes information about better store-bought options, inexpensive DIY products that are probably already in your pantry, and examples of how I’ve changed my hair care routine.

What’s one hair product that you cannot live without?

I think you’ll enjoy these related posts:

Using Apple Cider Vinegar to Remove Hair Product Buildup
Mommy Scientist Series: Why I’m Overhauling My Skincare Products




24 thoughts on “Before You Buy Your Next Shampoo…

  1. Deborah Davis

    It is so important to raise awareness of the harmful ingredients in many shampoos. Luckily there are a variety of safe, organic cosmetics and hair care available if you search for them. My local health food store carries a fine selection, but it is still important to read labels carefully to avoid harmful ingredients.Thank you so much for sharing Before You Buy Your Next Shampoo… with us at the Healthy Happy Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I’m pinning and sharing.

    1. Jody Post author

      I agree Deborah! Just having an awareness and being able to read labels better makes me feel like I am already empowered in making safer skincare and beauty purchases. I am so happy that many brands and stores are following suit in producing cleaner products. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Very informative post! I gave up trying to tame my curly hair, but I care about the hair products I use. since I workout almost every day and wash my hair, I am interested in finding a mild shampoo! Saw your post on #WayWowWednesday.

    1. Jody Post author

      Thanks Terri! Hair products can be difficult (especially curly hair ones!) since everyone’s hair is so different, but fortunately I’ve found a few things that consistently work well. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Gina

    I’ve been thinking about more natural alternatives a lot lately. Hair care seemed like such a tough topic to approach and I didn’t know where to start. Thanks for sharing and giving me a starting point! 🙂

    1. Jody Post author

      I totally agree Gina! I have curly hair so I was really nervous about switching from my usual products, but luckily there are a lot of cleaner options out there and I’ve had pretty good luck with most of them (will be sharing that in another post!) Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Jody Post author

      I’m definitely going to check that out Shannon! My daughter has inherited my curly hair so I am already searching for the right products for her…now I have an idea of what my mom went through with me! Thanks for the recommendation and for stopping by! Have a great weekend!

    1. Jody Post author

      Thanks Hayley! Hair products are definitely the trickier of the products that I am trying to swap out, with conditioner being at the top of that list! Luckily I have found a few that are improvements over some of my old ones. Burts Bees Super Shiny Conditioner and L’Oreal Sulfate-Free EverPure Conditioner are pretty good. I also have a few others on my list that I am planning on trying so I will let you know how those go! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Nikki Frank-Hamilton

    Dog-gone it! Now I am officially freaked out! I love the smell of fresh washed hair, but these products sound horrid! I worry so much about what I put in my mouth I better start worrying about what I put on my skin. Thanks for sharing, I am pinning to check my shampoo bottle later, kinda scary! #WAYWOW

    1. Jody Post author

      Sorry Nikki, I definitely didn’t mean to freak you out with the info! Although to be honest, I was a bit freaked out too once I started reading up on different ingredients and their potential harm. But knowledge is power so once you have an awareness of the really bad ingredients, you are better armed when you do your shopping. And fortunately there are many cleaner options available now. I plan on sharing my new favorites very soon! Thanks for stopping by and for hosting the #waywow link party!

  5. Amy Ngai

    Great informative post. I never really thought about this before. There’s a lot to look out for when I buy my next hair products. I do try not to wash my hair too often. I used to wash it everyday but now I try to go two days in-between washes. Thanks for sharing. #ConfessionsLinkUp

    1. Jody Post author

      Thanks Amy! I never really thought about it before either, but once I started reading about different ingredients and their potential harm, I knew I had to find cleaner options. Luckily there are a lot of them out there now, so it’s been a trial and error game of figuring out what works on my hair! Thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful week!

  6. Erlene

    Can’t wait to see your product picks post. My girls have super long and full hair, so good hair care products is really important to them. Right now, we can’t do without a good conditioner.

    1. Jody Post author

      Thanks Erlene! My hair and my daughter’s hair are both thick and curly so good hair products are a must for us as well! Summer has slowed me down a bit with blogging but I hope to get the product picks post out soon and hopefully you’ll find some products that work well for you and your girls! As always, thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful week!

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