What Toxins Are Hiding in Your Shampoo?

Most people shampoo their hair a few times a week and may not realize the toxic mix they are absorbing through their skin. When you shampoo your hair, the 20 blood vessels, 650 sweat glands and 1,000, nerve endings soak in the toxins.

When toxins are absorbed through your skin, they bypass your liver and enter the bloodstream and tissues directly….with no filtering.

Many common ingredients in your shampoo are linked to cancer, asthma, neurological problems, skin irritation and other health problems.

You simply cannot assume that because a product is for sale in the marketplace, it is safe. Deceptive advertising seems common place with many companies, as many products are labeled natural and yet contain hazardous ingredients.


10 Commonly Used Chemicals in Shampoos

Some of the basic ingredients in shampoo include surfactants, preservatives, fragrance, color as well as active or inactive ingredients that can include stabilizers, thickeners, and products to nourish or strengthen your hair. Below is a tiny sampling of chemicals and their side effects found in soaps and shampoos:

1.  Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA or Diethanolamine is a wetting agent used to create a rich lather that many consumers expect in their shampoo. DEA reacts with other chemicals in the shampoo and can create an extremely potent carcinogen called NDEA (nitroso diethanolamine).   NDEA is easily absorbed through the skin and is linked with bladder, esophagus, liver and stomach cancer.

To eliminate your exposure to NDEA, avoid these ingredients:

  • Cocamide DEA or Cocamide Diethanolamine
  • DEA Lauryl Sulfate or Diethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate
  • Lauramide DEA or Lauramide Diethanolamine
  • Linoleamide DEA or Linoleamide Diethanolamine
  • Oleamide DEA or Oleamide Diethanolamine
  • Any product containing TEA or Triethanolamine


2.  Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
SLS is a detergent and a surfactant used to break down surface tension allowing the shampoo to become a more effective cleanser. SLS is also linked to Nitrosamines a potent carcinogen that causes your body to absorb nitrates, another known carcinogen. Over 40,000 studies in PubMed science library include information on the toxicity of this chemical.

3.  Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
SLES is a concern as it can become contaminated with Dioxane. This is dependent on the manufacturing process. Dioxane is a suspected carcinogen. Because the liver has a difficult time metabolizing this effectively, it remains in the body for an extended period.

4.  Propylene Glycol
Although this ingredient is used in anti-freeze for your car radiator, you can also find it in moisturizers, hand sanitizers, baby products, conditioners, and shampoos. MSDS sheets warn users to avoid skin contact, yet it remains in many cosmetics. It is linked to liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

5.  Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride
These chemical functions as a preservative, antimicrobial and surfactant in shampoo. They are also associated with severe skin, eye, respiratory irritation and allergies.

6.  Formaldehyde
Quaternium-15 is a formaldehyde-releasing preservative. There are 85 studies in the PubMed science library that include information on the toxicity of this chemical. On a scale of 0-10, this product rates an eight on the Skin Deep database. The European Union has determined that this ingredient ‘may not be safe’ in cosmetics.

7.  Cocamidopropyl Betaine- (CAPB)
EWG Skin Deep lists this as a moderate overall hazard, associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. According to PubMed, the increasing rates of sensitization led to CAPB’s being named Allergen of the Year in 2004.

8.  Methylchloroisothiazolinone
According to Skin Deep, this widely used preservative is associated with allergic reactions and there is also some cancer concern.

9.  Methylisothiazolinone
According to Skin Deep, this widely used preservative is associated with allergic reactions and lab studies on brain cells of mammals suggest that it may also be neurotoxic.
Methylisothiazolinone can be very irritating. For this reason, it is mostly used in rinse-off products. The concentrations in leave-on products are restricted to a minimal amount to lessen the risk of a negative reaction.

10.  Fragrance
Artificial Fragrances can contain hundreds, even thousands of chemicals, including phthalates. Since fragrances are protected as a trade secret, the full ingredients do not have to be listed on the label. Fragrances are a major cause of allergic reactions.


More and more Americans are embracing a healthy lifestyle: healthy food choices, and exercise. When embracing a healthy lifestyle, there’s one thing we learn over and over: healthy living requires vigilance. This is especially true of the health and beauty products we buy. Like to much in modern life, shampoos and soaps contain too many ingredients that were born on a chemist’s bench. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, and from there they can wreak havoc on organs, tissues, and cells. Fortunately, there’re many reputable natural healthy alternatives that use pure ingredients that deeply cleanse and restore skin and body to optimum health.

Taken from “Toxic Shampoo: Read Before Applying” by Dr. Isaac Eliaz.