Ingredients to Avoid in Hair Care Products

Not getting healthier, hair can actually lose nutrients and become damaged when using the wrong product. Ever looked at the ingredient lists of shampoo bottles with all sorts of chemical names? While not all chemicals are bad for your hair and head, there are certainly some to watch out for.

Unfortunately, there are still many hair products on the market that contain chemicals that may be harmful to our overall health. The rise of hair care products that contain ingredients that are harmful to the body, before buying products, make sure to choose products that contain ingredients that are not harmful for both the long and short term.

The experts at Nutrafol created a list of ingredients to avoid using on hair. If you see one of these listed as an ingredient in a hair product, think twice before buying. Here are some hair care ingredients that need to be avoided because they can be harmful to the body.

Coal tar

Colorants derived from coal tar are used to give artificial colors to cosmetics, including hair dyes. These petroleum-derived colors can contain various chemicals and other metals such as aluminum substrates, which have been linked to cancer and brain damage.

Having a high irritant potential, most coal tar dyes are prohibited and cannot be used in cosmetic formulations in Canada. If you want to buy hair dye, be sure to check the ingredients list before checking out.

Para-phenylenediamine (PPD)

PPD is a chemical found in most permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes from drugstores or salons. When PPD comes into contact with the skin, it is known to have the potential to cause allergic reactions and increase UV sensitivity.

While PPD can still be found in most traditional hair dyes, it should be avoided by anyone with a sensitive scalp. If using a home dye that contains PPD, be sure to follow the directions carefully and do a patch test first.

Sodium hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is used in hair products – especially those that serve as straightening treatments – to adjust pH, or acidity. However, NaOH can actually damage hair when used at high concentrations and at high pH.


Used as a solvent that can dissolve paint and paint thinner, also found in some hair dyes/bleach products. These chemicals can affect the respiratory system, irritate the skin, and even cause developmental damage to the fetus if exposed to pregnant women. It is usually labeled as benzene, tuluol, phenylmethane, or methylbenzene.


Triclosan is added to many hair care products to prevent bacterial contamination, but it is a skin irritant and a suspected carcinogen. Even in the United States, the antibacterial substance triclosan is prohibited from being used in antibacterial soaps. However, it is still allowed in shampoos. This ingredient is known to cause hormonal disturbances, which can cause cancer and affect fetal development in pregnant women.