Ask any haircare expert what kind of shampoo and/or conditioner is the best choice for keeping hair healthy, and they would all say the same thing: a sulfate-free and paraben-free one. And that’s because sulfates, parabens, and other chemical-based ingredients like hexane and silicones can be damaging to hair. Most of these ingredients are not only harsh, they can also irritate the scalp/skin. They can wash down our drains and end up in marine communities, causing water contamination and affecting marine life.
When picking the right shampoo, the most commercially popular brand is not typically the best. With the growing awareness of the bad effects of certain cosmetic ingredients, beauty companies have become determined more than ever to discover the best sulfate-free and paraben-free formula of their shampoos and conditioners.
Sulfate-free and paraben-free hair care products have become in demand and are now readily available in the market. No worries because they don’t cost a fortune. But before you make the switch, take a closer look at each harmful ingredient to understand why you should avoid them.
What are Sulfates, Parabens, Hexane, and Silicone?
If shampoo ads featuring women shampooing their hair with seemingly endless foam easily wins you over, you really have to think twice. The ingredient behind that rich lather is sulfate. Rather than leading to healthy, shiny hair, using a shampoo that is not sulfate-free actually strips away the natural oils and moisture from your hair.
Sulfates are synthetic ingredients based on sulfur, which is derived from petrolatum or other sources. Common sulfates found in shampoos and conditioners are sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES).
The main thing about sulfates is that these are detergents or cleansers that deliberately remove dirt and excess oil. But they are extremely strong that they can strip away that natural moisture, which keeps your hair shiny and soft.
Bad Effects of Sulfates:
- Causes hair and skin to go dry and damaged in the long run
- On a deeper level, have the potential to cause hormonal disruption in humans and animals
- Can corrode and damage the hair follicles, leading to hair loss
- Major contaminant in natural waters
An easy way to remember what parabens are for is to take note of its first letter (the letter P). P is for preservative. Parabens are most frequently used in personal care products to preserve them from growing fungus, bacteria or microbes. They are commonly found in some lotions, makeup, food, and pharmaceuticals. By knowing the negative effects of parabens, you would prefer more a paraben-free shampoo and conditioner every time you shop.
Bad Effects of Parabens:
- Unwanted health problems such as increased risk of developing cancer
- May disrupt hormones in the body and affect fertility, reproductive organs, and birth outcomes
- Poses potential health risks to marine animals such as polar bears and dolphins
- Can also cause skin irritation
- Linked to ecological harm especially to corals
Hexane in beauty products is not actually used as an ingredient, rather it is used to extract an ingredient from its raw materials. For example, natural oils taken from seeds, nuts, or vegetables may be extracted using hexane as a solvent. Some manufactures of products like castor oil or almond oil prefer to use hexane for economic reasons.
To help preserve the purity of our castor oil products, we make sure that we use castor oil that is cold-pressed, certified organic, and hexane-free.
Bad Effects of Hexane:
- Severe exposure may affect the nervous system
- Inhalation may cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, and even unconsciousness
- If swallowed, may cause abdominal pain and impact the respiratory system
- Eye and skin contact may cause irritation
Silicones are synthetic polymers – substances with properties similar to plastics and resins. They are usually added to haircare products to give hair extra shine and smoothness. There are many types of silicones and a great way to know if your shampoo or conditioner contains them is to look for words ending in ‘cone’ on the ingredient list like “dimethicone”.
Because of the hair benefits of silicone, there’s little debate whether it’s good or bad. It is not necessarily harmful (because silicone isn’t a toxic chemical) but if you have a curly or wavy hair – whether natural or permed – it would be best to look for a silicone-free shampoo and conditioner.
Bad Effects of Silicone:
- Hair gets weighed down and appear greasy
- Forms a layer around the hair shaft which can prevent moisture and nutrients from penetrating
- Quite difficult to wash off and can create a buildup over time, leading to dry and brittle hair
How Bad Ingredients Can Affect Marine Life
Ingredients toxic to human health eventually wind up in aquatic ecosystems. Scientists have raised awareness about personal care products like shower gels, facial washes, sunscreens, including shampoos and conditioners containing sulfates and parabens can be bad for environment.
When we rinse off our hair every time we use a shampoo and conditioner, the products are washed down the drain with the water. Water waste treatment plants don’t usually break down all these ingredients and some make their way to the marine environment. This causes toxicity in water, hurting the marine ecosystem. Corals become in danger due to induced bleaching, damage, and deformation. Fishes and other water animals accumulate toxins that can impair growth, decrease fertility and reproduction, and damage their immune system.
Although measures have been put in place over the years, a throng of bad ingredients are still present in everyday personal care products. It is now up to all of us to make the right choices to avoid upsetting our marine ecosystems and polluting the world’s oceans.
Shiny Leaf Natural Products Do Not Contain Any Sulfates, Parabens, Hexane nor Silicone
With an overwhelming number of choices for shampoos and conditioners, it’s easy to get lost and end up picking the ones that are potentially harmful. As it is always said in the cosmetics industry, “not all products are created equal.” Therefore, looking closely at the ingredients of the product is a fair step in avoiding products filled with ingredients that are bad for you and the marine life.
Choose Haircare Products Made with Natural Ingredients
Most brands in the cosmetics and personal care industry have taken action by releasing organic or all-natural lines. The smartest move is to choose these types of products. Just make sure to always check the label before you check out. By doing so, you can avoid buying products that contain major marine life culprits such as sulfates and parabens. Other harmful ingredients are triclosan, UV filters, and saponins.
Use only products that contain certified all-natural and organic ingredients. They are caring for you (your skin, hair, and health) and they don’t harm our beloved ocean. In Shiny Leaf, we use oils and plant extracts along with other safe alternatives in creating our natural products.
Oils and Extracts
If you want to embark on a chemical-free hair care routine, opt for products infused with plant-based ingredients with natural hydrating properties. Great examples are castor oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, almond oil, and nourishing extracts from coconut, aloe vera, chamomile, and green tea. These are often found in silicone-free conditioner and shampoo products. They offer a natural way to nourish hair, leaving it with the same shiny look.
Other Safer Ingredients
Shampooing is more enjoyable when you feel the suds working through your hair and scalp. You can still get that lather that you want using a shampoo with sulfate-free formula. Usually, sulfate-free shampoos would use safer alternatives such as coco glucosides and sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, which are derived from coconut.
A paraben-free conditioner or shampoo would usually contain phenoxyethanol as a much safer alternative. Similarly, sodium benzoate (and benzoic acid), sodium benzoate (and potassium sorbate) and benzyl alcohol are valid alternatives.
By making smart choices, you can greatly help to care for the ocean while keeping your hair beautiful. And when summer comes, you can enjoy the carefree time on the beach because you know our marine life is healthy, safe, and protected.
ALSO REMEMBER: Did you know that plastics used for product packaging such as bottles and sachets can also harm the oceans? And we all know that plastics don’t go away just like that. Plastic packaging can block water ways and can cause water pollution.
It is good to know that Shiny Leaf shampoo and conditioner bottles are recyclable. Remember to do recycling in your household to help save our oceans and our planet!