What is In Your Hair Product — Part One

It is a shame that the ingredients that I am about to name are actually in our hair products. When you think about it,  hair is dead so why make so much fuss about it? But and this is a big one, hair is attached to the head where the bed of the hair is very much alive and is separated from the covering to our brains by just a smidgen of an inch or so. Which means that we should be very aware of what it is that goes on our scalps or is absorbed through our heads.

It is simply frightening to think that we consume some of the products I am about to name from a very young age, for some of us that is quite a bit of years of storing toxins and poisons in our major organs. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made or else we’d all be dead already. Our bodies can take a lot of flack for years but with the right with knowledge we can make small steps toward changing our regular habits for the better. Here are the first five list of ingredients to avoid in hair products and in your hair care regimens.

Hair Care Product Ingredients to Avoid

Mineral Oil, Petrolatum and Petroleum – These are the first things I threw out when I started getting serious about hair. Why? Mineral oil is a derivative of crude oil (petroleum) that is used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. The oil coats the hair and acts as a natural barrier to moisture getting in the hair, and worse, after prolonged use, the hair becomes dry and brittle. Problem is, most persons turn to their hairdressers when the hair is in this state of dryness and breakage who then apply even more products containing mineral oil as this is what is in quite a bit of hair ‘repair’ products.The more mineral oil used, the more the hair dries out. It’s like a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself until the hair breaks off completely or is chopped off because it got too thin. It’s the same story with petrolatum which is also used as an industrial grease component. Think cars and big engines, these oils may be good for you car’s engine but are not good for your hair. if your hair oil contains these products chuck it out. It might be the cause of your hair being dry and prone to breakage.

Chlorine – Say what? We can’t avoid chlorine… it is in our tap water, pools, laundry products and anything to do with water treatments. Well news flash, it’s also in hair products. According to Dr. Doris J. Rapp, M.D., author of “Is This your Child’s World?” Chlorine can affect your health by contributing to hay fever, anemia, bronchitis, circulatory collapse, confusion, delirium diabetes, dizziness, irritation of the eye, mouth, nose throat, lung, skin and stomach, asthma, heart disease and the list goes on. Varying amounts of chlorine is put in hair products as a way to preserve them. If your hair product ingredient contains chlorine tread softly, especially if your hair is dyed.

Isopropyl Alcohol – If my memory serves me right this product is used in antifreeze products. I can remember that this ingredient was in a hair holding spray that my very first hair dresser used to give me a big, curly haired do. Needless, to say, a chunk of my hair fell out after that experience.Isopropyl alcohol is a denaturant, which means it changes the natural qualities of other substances because of its poisonous makeup.  Isopropyl alcohol is found in hair lotions, hair color rinses, fragrances and too many hair products to name. It is actually a petroleum-derived substance and as I said before, is used in antifreeze. According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, inhalation or ingestion of the vapor may cause headaches, dizziness, mental depression, nausea and even coma. Isopropyl alcohol is a hair killer, flee from it at all costs, it will dry out your hair and literally break it off. So glance at your hair product label lists and if it contains this alcohol banish it from your regime.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) –  I told my friend about my research on PEG and she called me crying that every product in her bathroom contained PEG, “it’s in everything”, she said in despair, “I am doomed.” Drama aside, it really seems as though PEG is omnipresent in hair and skin care products. The reason is that it dissolves oil and is a thickener. Think of any of your hair products that are thick and creamy and promises to give you ‘light grease free hair’ when applied, these usually come with added PEG. PEG is one of the main ingredients in oven cleaners. If it is used to scrub the grease and grime from your oven think of what it can do to your gorgeous hair overtime. This grease stripper should not be around any hair and definitely should not be use on black hair, whether it is natural or relaxed.

Propylene Glycol (PG) – This is another glycol, but this one absorbs into the hair quickly. Check the ingredients list on your hair care product and see if it  has PG. This ingredient  is the active ingredient in antifreeze. It is industrially used to break down protein, which is why it is marketed as being easy to absorb protein. But isn’t our hair and skin made up of protein. Oh yes, fast absorbing hair products like skin lotions and stick deodorants contain PG. What is even scarier is that workers who work with this product are required to wear protective clothing when handling this substance. The major organs such as the brain, lung, liver and kidney can be damaged by overexposure to PG.  Disappointingly, PG use does not come with a warning for ordinary consumers like us.There are many harsh chemicals that are found in hair products, even those products that we love, use and swear by. I was very disappointed to read about PG in my research but that just adds to my resolve that the closer to nature a product is, the better it may be for us.

See Part Two of “What is in your Hair Product”, to see five more products we should be cautious about.


Toedt John et al, Chemical composition of everyday products, Greenwood Press, 2005