Beware of This Ingredient When Shopping for Hair Care Products

There’s hundreds of hair products on shelves, so you might not put much thought into the shampoo and conditioner you buy. It can be easy to simply choose one that’s on sale or familiar products you’ve used before. But considering there’s been allegations of products using ingredients linked to things like cancer and hair loss, it’s important to start thinking about what’s actually inside those shiny bottles. You can learn more about good and bad hair care ingredients with an online search.

By arming yourself with the right information, you can avoid using products that put your hair and health at risk. Search online to find out which ingredients are safe to use on your hair.

Companies Are Being Sued Over Hair Loss

At the end of 2020, two women filed a class-action lawsuit against Unilever over some of its TRESemmé hair products. The plaintiffs are alleging an ingredient or combination of ingredients cause hair loss and scalp irritation after use. Fox6News reports these two products include TRESemmé Keratin Hair Smoothing Shampoo and TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Color Shampoo.

The ingredient in question is DMDM hydantoin, something that’s used to prevent products from spoiling. It can be found in things like shampoo, conditioners, moisturizers, and makeup foundations. Chemical Safety Facts says it’s also an antimicrobial that can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

DMDM hydantoin is considered a safe ingredient, but this lawsuit has made it questionable for consumers. It’s a formaldehyde-releasing preservative. This is a human carcinogen that can cause cancer when absorbed into the skin. The lawsuit is claiming that using DMDM hydantoin is unnecessary for over-the-counter hair products when safer alternatives exist.

TRESemmé has released a statement to FOX Television stations that says their “products are rigorously assessed to meet stringent safety standards.” The lawsuit is ongoing and DMDM hydantoin is still an ingredient used in products sold in stores.

Unhealthy Hair Care Ingredients

Aside from DMDM hydantoin, there are other ingredients you should be wary of next time you’re shopping for hair care. Here are some common ingredients found in hair products that you should know about.

Diethanolamine (DEA)

This is a thickening ingredient that helps shampoo and conditioner lather into your hair. VICE reports that it’s on a list of chemicals known to be linked to cancer. This conclusion was found while experimenting rats. Since the rats were administered DEA at higher levels of exposure than consumers would, the FDA has deemed it not something for people to worry about.


You might notice a lot of shampoos and conditioners have “sulfate-free” displayed on the packaging. That’s because many people actively try to avoid using sulfate-based products. While they are used to clean dirt and build-up off the scalp, Skin Kraft Laboratories says it can potentially lead to frizzy hair and even an allergic reaction on your scalp.


Parabens are used to increase the shelf life of hair care products. Although they can prevent bacteria from growing, Skin Kraft Laboratories says this ingredient mimics the function of hormone estrogen and can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Safer Hair Care Ingredients

Not all ingredients are bad for your hair. So if you’re looking to achieve smoother, softer or less frizzy locks, here are some ingredients that may help with that.

Natural Oils

The more natural ingredients used in your hair care, the better off you are. Look for oils that can nourish, moisturize and strengthen your hair at the same time. Everyday Health says coconut oil, jojoba oil, palm oil and olive oil are all great options.

Cetyl, Oleyl, and Stearyl Alcohols

Do you want to make your hair feel smooth and supple? VICE says these fatty alcohols, which can be found in shampoos and conditioners, contain softening properties. They’re generally less toxic and give products thick, creamy consistency.


Another good ingredient to look for is biotin, a water-soluble B-vitamin that optimizes hair and nail health. Biotin can thicken and stimulate growth, according to The Wellnest.

A lack of biotin can lead to hair loss, so keep an eye out for this ingredient next time you’re shopping.

Search Online to Learn More About Hair Care Ingredients

Everyone wants soft, strong and luscious hair. However, you have to be careful which products you’re using to make that happen. Understanding the ingredients written on the back of the bottle can help you achieve good hair without putting it in harm’s way.

Search online to learn more about hair care. Read up on the ingredients to make sure your products aren’t doing more harm than good, and do some research before buying just any shampoo and conditioner on sale.

Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock

Apr 12, 2021