Written by Abbi Ryan

Abbi Ryan is a contributing author and a creative director at Dr. J's Natural with a passion for all things health and wellness. As a former college athlete and fellow health enthusiast, Abbi aims to share her thoughts and research about the important things that will help create a happier and healthier lifestyle. In her spare time, Abbi enjoys cooking, spending time with family, and painting new pieces of wall decor for her new home!

January 31, 2022

How do you decide what shampoos, conditioners, and other hair products you should buy? Do you look at reviews, advertisements or just pick a well-known brand? Most commercial brands, while popular, often contain harmful chemicals that clean your hair but leave it feeling brittle and damaged over time. That is why you must begin to examine your hair products carefully and really look at the ingredients your hair is soaking up in order to make your hair’s radiance last and flourish.


This ingredient may sneak into your hair products under the name, “fragrance” but is indeed a harmful additive that will cause damage to your hair. Phthalates are commonly used to relieve that stiffness in most hair sprays but studies have shown that they can wreak havoc on your endocrine hormones. Interfering with your endocrine hormones can cause issues with your estrogen levels, progesterone, thyroid hormone, insulin, and more.


Parabens are another harmful ingredient often added to hair products and another source of trouble for your endocrine system. This ingredient is responsible for extending the shelf life of your hair care products and is listed as a number of names, including ethylparaben, methylparaben, Propylparaben, and others. Products containing parabens can easily be absorbed through the scalp, which is in direct contact with your endocrine system, so steer clear of this ingredient at all costs.


Sulfates are another example of a bad ingredient that should be avoided. They are mostly added in shampoos to act as a cleansing agent, leaving a squeaky clean feeling but producing dry, brittle hair that is prone to breakage and split ends. That foaming lather you see as you are washing your hair is because of sulfates and although not the most harmful of additives, they should still be avoided in search of an alternative. Sulfates are most commonly listed on your products as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), so look for “Sulfate-free” shampoos instead.


Mineral oil is formulated in hair care products, mostly included in conditioners and hair oils to detangle, smooth, and prevent damage to hair. While mineral oil can act as a glossy overlay on your hair, it can’t actually soak deep into the hair fibers, which means that this ingredient does not actually repair existing damage. If you are looking for the most effective oil, try switching to coconut oil, as this oil is much more capable of repairing damage, detangling hair, and protecting from potential brittleness and breakage.


Another very commonly used ingredient in hair products is silicone. Silicone is mostly formulated as a shining agent that also gives your hair a glossy look, providing your hair with a “protective seal” and a smooth-looking finish that is actually artificial. This “protective seal” that silicone provides will ultimately end up weighing your hair down and drying it out over time. Like mineral oil, there are many more advantageous alternatives for providing a shiny, glossy feel including jojoba oil, Moroccan oil, and marula oil. All of these have plant-based properties that provide a more natural element that is safe and effective when added to your hair.


While the bad ingredient list goes beyond these 5 additives, there are plenty of other hair product ingredients that will offer numerous benefits to your hair. So when scanning the product label keep an eye out for:

Biotin – an essential B-vitamin that helps with hair and nail health. With a sufficient amount of products, biotin can strengthen your hair and stimulate growth

Natural Oils – Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, and Olive Oil are all very beneficial natural oils that create a natural shine and can decrease protein loss caused by excessive heat and brushing damage

Protein – proteins are also essential to hair and they provide the primary structure of your hair. Proteins listed as keratin, wheat protein, and panthenol are all great for repairing damaged hair caused by excessive UV exposure, chlorine, dye, and more.

Healthy Fats – just as essential as in your daily diet, healthy fats can help strengthen and bring elasticity back to your hair.