Sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, fragrance and parabens are some chemicals commonly used in most major brands of shampoos. These chemicals are usually linked with unnecessary health risks and are seen as harmful to both the health and the environment.
Sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate are surfactants. They act as lathering, wetting and foaming agents and are major parts of the hair-cleaning process during shampooing. SLES and SLS strip away fatty acids and may cause skin and eye irritation. SLES is associated with possible carcinogens linked with cancer and kidney damage, while SLS easily penetrates the skin and may circulate in the body for days. In an older study, SLS is found to damage some DNAs in cells.
Parabens are usually used as a preservative in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Studies show that while parabens help prolong the shelf life of products, they also harm the skin and may cause organ damage and reproductive health risks. These chemicals are agonists or estrogen mimickers, and have been found in biopsy samples of breast-cancer patients.
Fragrance offers a nice and romantic scent to shampoos, but it is also derived from thousands of chemicals. Made from phthalates and petrochemicals, strong fragrance in shampoos is highly toxic and may result in damage to organs. It is also linked with learning disabilities in children whose mothers have high levels of these chemicals in their bodies.