6 Ingredients That Can Cause Hair Loss You Should Avoid In Shampoos

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I know many people that don’t give a good read to the label whenever they buy shampoo. That’s for hair loss. I’m losing hair, so that’s the one. Wrong. Just because it addresses thinning hair, it doesn’t mean a shampoo won’t contain harmful ingredients that may damage and weaken the strands. Harsh chemicals not only affect your hair and scalp but can also compromise your immunity. Besides, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not very strict regarding the ingredients used in cosmetics, so it’s your duty to make sure they’re safe for you.

Although most ingredients aim to beautify hair, they can also affect the scalp’s condition, making it drier and more irritating. As studies found, an unhealthy scalp leads to unhealthy hair, more prone to fall. The solution is simple: if you want a shampoo that won’t cause hair loss, pick one with clean ingredients that aim for scalp conditioning.

Ingredients to avoid in shampoos

As long as you are aware of the hazardous ingredients in your shampoo, it’ll be easy to target and eliminate them. Keep reading to find out which ingredients in shampoos are known to cause hair loss:

Sodium lauryl sulfate and laureth sulfate

These compounds are used to produce all that nice, bubbly lather and are said to have the deepest cleansing effects. However, SLSs can negatively affect the hair, especially for those with sensitive scalp. You would think that foam is a good thing that helps cleanse the scalp. But what about the part where it breaks down the proteins the hair needs to stay integer, stripping away the protective oils and drying the scalp? If these oils get stripped too often, the resulting dryness may lead to hair breakage.

Research actually confirmed that sulfates’ harsh cleansing might cause skin irritation, dryness, and inflammation, yet no evidence shows SLS exposure directly causes hair loss. Still, some suggest that the deposition of SLS on the hair follicle resulting from poor rinsing might penetrate the scalp and degenerate the follicle. Just so you know, SLSs can be easily replaced by natural saponins. Many plants produce saponins that have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity, such as aritha or reetha.


Most shampoos contain parabens (such as methylparaben and propylparaben), which are preservatives that help prevent bacteria growth. However, using parabens can reflect upon the health of your hair, as it’s been proved to cause hormonal disruption and allergies. The good news is that some manufacturers found effective alternatives to parabens to prevent microbial growth. These products indeed have shorter shelf life than conventional products – around 3 to 6 months. Yet, it’s a fair price to pay, especially for shampoos, which we regularly use anyway.


Obviously, we want our shampoo to leave a fresh, fantastic scent on our hair after washing it — the longer lasts, the better. More than men, women tend to buy shampoo by considering the scent only, but that’s not always right. Why? Under the term fragrance, can lay many harsh ingredients that might cause hormonal imbalance and scalp irritations. Some products may contain from 10 to 300 different fragrances, which sounds pretty bad for hair. On the other hand, though, many shampoos use essential oils to provide scent, so you can start looking for those instead.

Sodium chloride

Even if it’s just table salt, known as a non-toxic compound, sodium chloride can still dry out the hair and scalp. Thus, it can give you an itchy scalp, eventually degrading its health in time. Sodium chloride is used as a thickener in products containing SLS, not suitable for the hair length either, making your hair brittle. You already know that brittle hair snaps off easier. This dryness can lead to breakage and hair loss, especially if you’re repeatedly using salt-laden shampoo.

Propylene glycol

PEGs are added to help the scalp absorb other ingredients and were already classified as skin irritants. Also known as polyethylene or polyoxyethylene, this is another thickener ingredient that strips away hair moisture, degrading keratin levels and weakening hair. Even though its role is to condition the skin, propylene glycol is listed as hazardous by the Environmental Working Group.


When used in high concentrations, alcohol dehydrates the hair and scalp. When hair is too dry, it weakens and tends to break easily. The truth is that almost all shampoos contain alcohol, so you might want to avoid those listing alcohol as one of the first five ingredients. Keep in mind that the closer is to the label’s top, the higher the percentage in the product.

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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