Ingredient transparency in the hair care industry is far from the norm. The vast majority of people don’t know much about the products they’re putting in their hair. They don’t realize what’s in them, they don’t know how they’re made, and they certainly don’t understand how damaging the effects can be on their personal health. 

If you’re one of these people... that’s ok. You shouldn’t have to stress about every ingredient that goes into your routine and the short and long-term impacts they’ll have on you. We’ll stress about it for you.

Read on to discover what nasty sh*t the other guys are putting into your hair, your body, and our ecosystems. 


1. Parabens

These synthetic chemicals are commonly used to preserve products and boost shelf life. 

Parabens are frequently included in a wide variety of beauty products, especially those with high water content, such as shampoos and conditioners (if the primary ingredient in your product is water, you’re not only getting ripped off -- you’re applying a smorgasbord of chemicals to your hair and your body). Their antimicrobial properties are most effective against fungus and bacteria. Even more concerning? Most everyday products contain parabens including makeup, moisturizers, shampoo, cleaners, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving gels, and toothpaste, and more.

Cosmetics also tend to contain mixtures of different types of parabens. The most commonly used six types are methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl- and isobutyl paraben. The so-called shorter-chain parabens, methyl-, and ethyl-, are frequently used in combination. Butylparaben is usually used by itself. 

Yeah, basically a whole lot of words that none of us know how to flag. 

Scarier still:

Parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal purpose of hormone structures. This affects male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes. Parabens can also interfere with the production of hormones.

Parabens are also linked to environmental harm, as even trace amounts of this chemical can kill coral. They have been found in surface waters, fish and sediments. When parabens are combined with chlorinated tap water, different sorts of chlorinated paraben byproducts can form. Not much is known about the toxicity of these byproducts, which may be even more lasting.

The fact that these corporations and the FDA allow this stuff to go into their products is frankly upsetting.


2. “Fragrance”

What could be wrong with fragrance? We all want to smell good. Oftentimes the first thing you’ll do before buying a product is raise it to those beautiful nostrils for a whiff, right? Unfortunately, this term is simply a roundabout way of hiding what is used to create their “signature scent”.

Here’s the deal:

Fragrance itself is not a chemical but if you see this labeled on your products, you should know about its deceitful intention. Basically, companies don’t have to disclose what they create their “fragrance” with because it’s considered proprietary information…. In other words, it’s a “trade secret” and therefore protected from exposure – even to regulators or manufacturers (yikes). The word “fragrance” appears on ingredient lists for countless types of consumer goods, especially cosmetics, personal care, and cleaning products. You’ll soon notice it’s damn near unavoidable. 

Messy Dry Hair Frizz caused by harmful ingredients

A single “fragrance” can contain anywhere from 50 to 300 distinct chemical ingredients. In a 2018 BCPP study of personal care and cleaning brands, it was reported that “Three-quarters of the toxic chemicals detected in a test of 140 products came from fragrance.” In other words, if you thought maybe some of the ingredients you used in your personal care routine may contain harmful chemicals well, you were underestimating that by about 75%.

Overall, a hair product can appear transparent by displaying great ingredients all while hiding the harmful sh*t behind the veil of “fragrance.” It sucks, but even in 2021, you need to be skeptical.

3. Phthalates

Phthalates artificially soften hair, increase spreadability, enhance absorption, and help to make fragrances last longer.

The truth:

Phthalates are nasty. Long-term, they can result in obesity, allergies, various forms of cancer, and infertility (regardless of gender). Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. 

They are used in products such as detergents, personal care and beauty products, and even toys. “People are also exposed to phthalates by eating and drinking from containers containing them”, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Researchers uncovered that men with high phthalate concentrations experienced a 20% decline in fertility and resulted in longer periods to get their partners pregnant than men with lower concentrations. How TF is this legal? Because the people responsible (manufacturers who produce these products, and the FDA who approves these chemicals) don’t give a sh*t about your health.  

4. Sulfates

Sulfates are typically used to strip oils and dirt away from the hair. These cleansing agents are found in the majority of hair care products.

The catch:

Sulfates are almost too effective at cleaning and can quickly remove moisture from the hair, leaving your hair dry and scalp prone to unwanted irritation. 

People with naturally dry, curly, or frizzy hair may want to avoid sulfates. Sulfates can increase the dryness and frizziness of hair due to increased friction caused by the clearing of the natural oils and moisture.

People with a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis who use shampoo containing sulfates can also experience itching and inflammation in their scalp after use. 


Ingredient lists may oftentimes appear too complicated to give a second glance and this is a problem. Even with a stamp of approval from the FDA, harmful chemicals still make their way into some of the most common consumer goods, without much auditing. 

And even scarier, some of these companies are massive household names that have been around for decades. 

Here are some brands that you may want to cut out from your daily routine.

Let’s end this on a high note… there’s good news! We don’t have to live with these health, scalp, and hair issues. We just need to use better products and be well-informed. Now, go and keep that head happy.

We've worked hard to create a product that avoids all of these harmful ingredients (and it works better too!)

Check it out in our shop.