8 Harmful Ingredients That Are Bad For Your Hair

Ingredients That Are Bad For Your Hair

Finding a hair product that works well for your hair type can be challenging. In this article, we will explore what ingredients are bad for your hair and the ones that should be avoided.

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Are Some Hair Products Dangerous To Your Health?

There are varying reports about some of the ingredients in hair products being detrimental to our health.

This is because the chemicals in shampoo and other hair products can be easily absorbed through the skin and get into the bloodstream.

There are some reports that these chemicals can lead to hormonal imbalances and other serious illnesses. The more natural the product is, the fewer the risks there will be.

Harmful Ingredients To Avoid:

  • Mineral Oil
  • Sulfates
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Synethic colors
  • Fragrance
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Parabens
  • Silicones

What Ingredients Are Bad For Your Hair?

These ingredients are present in many hair products on the market. While some people will report little to no issues when using them, others have experienced negative effects on their hair and scalp.

Some of these ingredients are controversial and seen as neither good nor bad, but you may choose to avoid them to be on the safe side.

Mineral Oil

The purpose of mineral oil when added to hair products is to act as a lubricant. It helps to make hair smooth, shiny, and detangled.

Despite the positives, mineral oil is known to irritate the skin and in some cases prevent hair growth. While mineral oil can be naturally occurring, many of the hair products that include this oil are processed and contain other unnatural ingredients.

There are mixed reports about mineral oil and some report little to no problems when using it. However, you may want to avoid it if you have a sensitive or irritated scalp.


The role of sulfates is to dissolve oil on the scalp and create a foamy lather. This lather makes hair washing a pleasant experience and some people believe it makes their hair much cleaner.

Sulfates definitely create the illusion of cleaner hair, but that’s not entirely true. In fact, many people in the natural hair community will avoid them because they can be too harsh on the hair and scalp.

Sulfates are often added to floor cleaning products, so what happens when you put this on your hair and scalp? Well, it can strip the hair’s natural oils and make it considerably dry over time.

Many people have reported an itchy, irritated scalp when using sulfate shampoos. There are different names to look out for on the bottle.

Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, and ammonium lauryl sulfate are the top ones you will find.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that ammonium laureth sulfate is added to some naturally occurring shampoos because it is seen as a gentler alternative. It helps to create a lather but is it mild in comparison to shampoos containing SLS and SLES.

Also Read: Can Oil Build Up In Natural Hair? (Easy Ways To Tell)

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is a controversial ingredient in hair products. While it’s supposed to strengthen hair and add shine, it can actually have the opposite effect.

There is a risk of it blocking the follicles and leading to an infected or irritated scalp. It may also leave a film on the hair which can make the hair appear greasy.

However, petroleum jelly isn’t always considered to be bad for hair. If only a small amount is added to a hair product, it’s unlikely to have negative consequences.

Hair products that contain a higher amount of petroleum jelly may need to be avoided for people with sensitive scalps. If possible, stick to the lengths of the hair only.

Synthetic colors

Many shampoos on the market have artificial coloring added to them.

If you pick up a shampoo that is bright pink or yellow, for example, it’s probably not naturally occurring.

The issue with synthetic colors is that they can irritate the scalp and dry out the hair. Many of these colors are derived from coal tar, which is considered to be particularly bad for your hair as well as your general health.

The best way to find out if there are Synthetic colors in your shampoo products is to look for letters and numbers on the ingredients list. They may begin with ‘CI1’ or ‘FD&C.’


The role of Fragrance in hair products is to give the hair a nice, fresh smell, but at what cost?

Fragrances added to hair products are often created artificially, through a process of mixing chemicals. The issue is there is no way of finding out which chemicals have been added to the product.

Some products may contain hundreds of chemicals and these can disrupt the hair’s pH and cause many issues.

However, not all fragrance is considered to be bad for you.

Many natural hair products use essential oils to create a pleasant smell instead of chemicals.

Most people will find that natural fragrance doesn’t irritate their hair or scalp, but some people with scalp conditions may want to opt for a fragrance-free product.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropl alchohol is added to many hair products to dissolve oil and kill bacteria.

While this sounds like a good thing, it should often be avoided when buying hair products.

Not all alcohols are bad for the hair. In fact, many of them are very effective. Isopropyl alcohol is the one you want to avoid because it has extremely drying effects on the hair. It can make the hair brittle, weak, and even lead to hair loss in some cases.


Parabens are commonly added to hair products as a preservative. Unfortunately, they can have negative effects on the hair.

Parabens have been found to be drying on the hair, which can cause scalp irritation and itchiness, and even hair loss.

It’s not always easy to know if a product contains parabens unless stated on the bottle.

They can be disguised in artificial fragrances, so if you wanted to be safe, you should choose a fragrance-free product or one that uses essential oils as the fragrance.

Also Read: Is Sparkling Water Good For Your Scalp? (Solved)


The main issue with silicones is that many of them are not water-soluble.

This can cause a build-up on the hair and scalp and weigh the hair down, making it appear greasy or lifeless.

Most people in the curly hair community will avoid all silicones for this reason because it can impact the curls definition and make them susceptible to breakage.

Natural oils will provide the hair with a much healthier shine than silicones can.

5 Natural Hair Products To Try

These products are made with 98% or more natural ingredients and do not contain any harmful or irritating ingredients for most people.

We recommend them because they are both gentle and nourishing on the hair and scalp.

Sukin Natural Balance Conditioner

Sukin Natural Balance Conditioner

The natural balance conditioner from Sukin is a good choice for those who suffer from sensitive or irritated scalps.

Made with a blend of baobab and sesame oils, this gentle formula aims to soothe the scalp and leave the hair feeling hydrated.

It’s free of sulfates, drying alcohols, silicones, and any other harmful ingredients. It’s gentle enough to be used frequently if needed.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Papaya

Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Papaya

The 3-in-1 ultimate blends hair food mask by Garnier is a deep conditioning treatment that is suitable for normal to dry hair.

It has a 98% natural formula and aims to restore extremely damaged hair. While it does contain fragrance, this is the last ingredient added, so it’s unlikely to cause any sensitivity. This product is versatile and can be used as a conditioner, rinse-out hair mask, or leave-in conditioner.

Handmade Naturals Aloe MuruMuru And Macadamia Conditioner

Handmade Naturals Aloe MuruMuru And Macadamia Conditioner

This conditioner from Handmade Naturals is made with 100% natural ingredients and is suitable for thick, curly, and dry hair.

This highly nourishing conditioner is made with organic aloe vera and macadamia nut oils to create a rich, creamy texture that simply glides on and improves the hair’s condition. There are no harsh or irritating ingredients so it can be used by those with sensitive scalps.

Alikay Naturals Lemongrass Leave-In Conditioner

Alikay Naturals Lemongrass Leave-In Conditioner

Alikay Naturals lemongrass leave-in conditioner contains a blend of natural oils to add moisture to the hair and leave it feeling full of life.

 The lemongrass has antibacterial properties which can help to soothe an irritated scalp and treat dandruff. It’s also added to this leave-in conditioner to strengthen the hair strands and protect against damage.

Faith In Nature Tea Tree Shampoo

Faith In Nature Tea Tree Shampoo

The tea tree shampoo from Faith In Nature works wonders when used on oily hair and scalp. They use tea tree oil for its antiseptic properties that help to reduce itching and irritation on the scalp. It also helps to absorb some of the excess oil and reduce bacteria.

With a 99% natural formula, this shampoo can be used regularly to gently cleanse the hair without stripping the hair’s natural oils.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Coralle Skye

Coralle is an experienced beauty writer with a passion for wellness, women’s health, and sustainability.