The One Ingredient In Shampoo That's Ruining Your Hair

November 14, 2016 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

The no-poo movement didn’t come out of nowhere. After discovering a number of toxic ingredients found in many shampoos, health-concerned beauty enthusiasts decided enough was enough and that the negative effects of shampoo all too often outweigh the good. And while we can sit here and bash potassium sorbate, dimethecone, triclosan, and the rest of the “dirty 12” until the cows come home, if you really want to know which one ingredient is guaranteed to ruin your hair, look no further than sulfates.

Sulfates, which go by many other names including sodium lauryl sulfate, are known carcinogens that can cause liver damage and irritate the scalp and skin. But let’s put aside the health risks involved in using products with sulfates for a moment and focus on how terrible they actually are for the health of your hair. Because they’re pretty darn bad.

Sulfates are detergents that work really well to rid the scalp of dirt and oils. But, in the process, they strip your hair of natural oils, can destroy salon color and highlights by causing your shade to fade fast, and can leave your hair looking parched and frizzy. There’s also always the chance that sulfates will irritate your scalp and eyes or, in some more rare cases, cause an allergic reaction. The bottom line: unless you have accumulated a year’s worth of oil on your scalp, a sulfate shampoo is nearly always going to cause more damage than good.

Washing your hair with non-sulfate shampoos are your best defense against the sulfates found in many shampoos. These healthier alternatives take a bit of getting used to–particularly because they won’t create the same satisfying suds you get from a sulfate shampoo–but the results are worth it. Think: shinier, healthier-looking hair, fewer health risks, and less money spent on salon color. A win-win all around.

For more hair tips, check out are ponytails really bad for your hair? and the 10-second test for telling whether your hair is healthy.

Follow me at @lisacfogarty on Twitter.



Beauty, hair


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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