We take so much pride in our skincare. We treat our skin the way we should—like our largest organ, an exposed sponge that soaks up every ingredient we lovingly massage, pat, rub, dab, and lather in. But what makes our scalp any different? If anything, it’s an extension of our face, and the thinnest layer of skin that covers our skin, that houses our brain. Shouldn’t we take extra careful consideration of the ingredients we let enter that arena? Is it out-of-sight-out-of-mind, simply because it’s covered in hair?
At Amé, hair care is no exception to the clean beauty rule, and for the aforementioned reasons, it’s arguably even more important. While finding super effective, totally clean hair care products isn’t easy, there is definitely an easy way to narrow down your findings. Look at your labels, and take note. Here is what to absolutely avoid.
Now that we are getting rid of formaldehyde in our nail polish, why would we be cool with putting this derivative directly onto our noggin? It’s a known carcinogen, and is also tied to respiratory issues and asthmatic reactions.
This is an agent that promotes foaming, aka a surfactant. It makes us feel like we are getting squeaky clean, but it’s all a lie for user experience. It’s a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, and can cause dehydration of the top dermal layer.
Parabens are a common preservative, and are used to maintain shelf life. They can be found in almost all commercial shampoos and conditioners. There are many types of parabens, and they won’t all be labeled the same. Look for the suffix “paraben,” as in ethylparaben, butylparaben, and methylparaben.
PEGs are included in many beauty products, but especially shampoos and texturizers as a thickening agent. They strip the hair of it’s natural moisture (hello, counterintuitive much?) which puts us in a vicious cycle of needing artificial smoothing agents, like silicon. They can also cause irritation when applied to broken skin or an irritated scalp, worsening the issue.
This toxin is actually a medley of hundreds of chemicals that when together, promote flexibility. Think texture creams and hairspray. It’s a major endocrine disruptor, and has estrogen-like activity. This can result in early breast development in young girls, as well as increased risk of breast cancer and even reproductive issues in developing fetuses.
This is a type of silicone with two methyl groups attached (hence the name, Di-methicone). It can be found in most hair care products because it’s inexpensive to produce and it makes hair feel that artificial smooth softness. We say “artificial” because like silicon, it’s just a coating. Underneath that coating, it will dry out your hair irreparably. It also creates build up, which blocks follicles and stunts growth, creates an oily scalp making for greasy roots and weighted down ends. In some cases, it can make the scalp itch and burn.
Because most of these ingredients are considered “safe” in small amounts, we don’t consider the implications of using them day in, day out, for our lives’ entirety. The accumulation is where we experience damaging effects, and since these products are meant to be used daily, accumulation is inevitable. It’s an evil industry loophole, so it’s up to us to be aware and check our labels, and be conscientious, clean beauty shoppers.