Posted on by Paul WebDev

Dangerous Chemicals You Don’t Want in your Hair Products

Yes, I admit it. I am a hair care junkie. People may think I
am obsessed with skincare, but the truth is, when it comes to products for my
golden locks things get out of control. There was a moment in my life when I
had so many hair care products that I could open my own hair salon (I am not
over exaggerating, believe me). A huge variety of shampoos, leave-on treatments, hair sprays, masks, serums, straightening balms, curling mists,
volume powders – I don’t even remember all the stuff that I had. When I started
my Master in Medicinal chemistry I was very passionate about one particular
course –
Chemicals in Personal Care Products. I admit that I learned a lot from our
professor but I also did my own research and I don’t regret it.
Here is some “intriguing” info about 3 widely used chemicals in hair care
products, that made me throw away half of the masks, serums and mists that I
was using at that time.


If you have more than 5 hair masks/conditioners at home (that
are not organic, of course) take 3 of them and take a look at the label.
Chances are you’ll find Behentrimonium chloride listed among the first
ingredients. Behentrimonium chloride (also known as docosyltrimethylammonium
chloride or BTAC-228) is waxy like substance that work as de-frizzer
and conditioning agent. It is manufacturer’s favorite because it keeps your
locks frizz-free and makes them manageable and soft. Behentrimonium chloride is considered toxic in concentrations of 0.1% and higher and is suspected to cause skin and
eye irritations. Though, some claim there is not enough evidence supporting
this theory, for me the European laws say it all:

In Europe the amount of
Behentrimonium chloride allowed in rinse-off and leave-on products shouldn’t
exceed certain percentage (rinse-off hair care products up to 5.0% & leave-on
hair products up to 3.0%.).

If this compound wasn’t potentially dangerous, most probably
no one would have set these regulatory requirements, right?

PEG 150 Distearate

Like most PEG’s (polyethylene glycols), this one serves primarily
as emulsifier and thickener. Though PEG 150 Distearate has high molecule weight,
which makes it unlikely to penetrate the skin barrier, it is suspected to
contain traces of harmful impurities like Ethylene Oxide (mutagen which
increases the risk of cancer; neurotoxin and skin irritant) and 1,4-Dioxane (cancerogenic
compound, often found as contaminant in various personal care product available
on the market). Apart from that, when heated, PEG 150 produces vapors which can
cause dizziness, nausea and eye irritation. If traces of PEG 150 are left on
your hair and you use flat iron after bath, do the math – slow poisoning over
long period of time.

Silicones &

What not to love about silicones and silicone based
polymers, like dimethicones? They make your hair shine, baby soft to the touch,
manageable and healthy looking (yes, even when it’s burnt after regular flat
iron abuse and bleaching). Silicones are probably the most widely used
ingredients in the hair care industry and can be found literally everywhere –
starting from shampoos, going through masks/conditioners and ending at serums
for split ends/
damaged hair. Similar to 
mineral oil used in the manufacturing
of skincare, silicones coat the hair fiber, helping it retain moisture. Besides
that, they “glue” the hair cuticles, making the surface of the hair smoother.
Smoother hair reflects more light and appears shiny and healthy. And we all
want to be blinding, don’t we? Enough with the benefits, let’s talk about the
not-so-bright-and-shiny side of the silicones. While silicones are considered
relatively safe, some of them, being not water soluble, build up and do not
allow your scalp to breathe. They can also clog the fair follicles, stopping
the process of normal hair growth. Accumulation of silicones can weight down
your hair making it appear greasy and lifeless. Apart from these aesthetic
problems that can occur with regular use, few people know that when heated, silicones
(in particular cyclopentasiloxane) release
formaldehyde, which causes breathing problems, skin and eye irritation, nausea
and headaches. And believe me, your heat-protectant spray contains at least one
type of silicone. You can check.

What did I do after finding out all these “hidden benefits” of
my favorite hair care products? Well, I did some more research and I found that
there are safer, greener and even cheaper alternatives that perform just as
good (tested and proven to work!). 

Natural Hair Care Alternatives

Jojoba Oil 

Thanks to its waxy like properties, jojoba oil
forms a thin protective layer around the hair strand, that keeps the water
locked in, making your locks look hydrated and healthy. I use it like leave-on
treatment/serum and my hair has never been so shiny and manageable. Be careful
with the quantity though and focus on the lengths of your hair, when applying. Jojoba
oil is also famous for having long-shelf life (without nasty preservatives!)
which makes it totally worth the money. If your scalp is too oily, you can try
rebalancing it with weekly jojoba masks. Jojoba oil has structure similar to
the sebum your skin naturally produces. With regular use, I promise, you’ll see
the difference!

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Argan Oil

No wonder so many products available on the
market have it on top of their ingredient lists. It makes hair softer and
shinier, when used, both as pre-shower treatment and leave-on (especially if
you have dry, coarse hair –this thing is ah-ma-zing!). It tames frizz,
providing silky smooth finish and glossy look. Thanks to the high content of vitamin
E (powerful antioxidant and nourishing agent), when applied directly on the
scalp, Argan oil boost the growth of healthy, strong hair. True miracle worker.

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