A huge list of chemicals in shampoo

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This was the start of a journey, we really didn’t know what we would find when we first thought about what we were actually using on our hair.

The first time that I truly was more careful ,was when I was pregnant, you are more aware and careful in what you eat and use.

I think that this is going to be a process of adding content , it will be an evolving process.

For us and probably most people ,one of the most frequently used products every day is shampoo.

After seeing what a huge list of chemicals are in each product, we thought if we could break it down to some of the main items we use on our skin on a daily basis, it may be easier to read and understand.

We have been looking on the bottles of the shampoo that we use , It says no Parabens but what else is in it ?

Also where can you buy safer alternatives?

Can you make your own, with a simple recipe that works, and doesn’t take forever? Or is so complicated it puts you off altogether!

The other factor is how much does that cost?

We have a teenage daughter who is rather liberal using products, so they disappear quickly. If it works out hugely expensive, then that has a factor too. 

We wanted to take a deeper look into just one product , or this whole website would just be a huge list of chemicals. Which wasn’t the reason for digging into all this stuff.

We just wanted to have the least impact, from toxic chemicals on our family and home.

(We have listed a load of chemicals on the skin information blog.)

I took one example of a shampoo which is a popular brand –

Then I have added an example of what is in it , at the bottom of this blog.

To give you some idea of just how many chemicals, can be in a  shampoo, which was being sold as no parabens and colourants.

It can read a bit like a pharmaceutical list,as it is quite long.

Also this is just ONE product , a shampoo , to list the conditioner , toothpaste, deodorant ,face cream, shower gel, cosmetics and other hair products, all these chemicals are being mixed up like a big toxic soup on our bodies. The average woman puts 515 Synthetic chemicals on her body everyday .


A good website if you need to do an easy search on your products is  Cosmetics 

This website,which is my total favourite place to start a search, on a product or a single chemical is   EWG.Org 

This is a totally amazing site with clear guidelines on the best products to use ( graded 1-10) and color coded from green to red, makes your search so easy to understand, then it is broken down further with each health concern given in its severity health issue on others. It will give you a list of products for each category. Plus they offer a recommended list of the safest products.

As I saw as a comment on one of the websites, that everything we use is a chemical, even natural ones. Not everything is harmful, but it is good to know the ones to avoid if you can! Just having the knowledge to make an informed decision on what we are using would be great.

I found a good article on CLEAR AND WELL.COM on the 29 Safest shampoos and Conditioners, there are many sites with guideline on what chemicals to avoid if you can. 


Photo by Samson Katt on

Bumble and BeeThis organic shampoo has no Nasty stuff . They do contain some nut oils , so be aware if you have allergies in the family.

This company sounds amazing , handmade products, made is small batches to keep the products fresh. All natural and Organic products made with thought and care. They offer a huge range of products, not just shampoo, but deodorants, soap, lip balm, foaming hand wash and shower gels, even insect repellent all fragranced with essential oils.

EXACTLY ORGANICS -This company is an EWG VERIFIED Which is great for confidence in the products.

HONEST – This company has a range of gentle products, lots of baby products as well.

PURACY PRODUCTS – This links to their hair care made with coconut cleansers. A link to their story and their ethics in producing safe products for personal care and your home. This is a link to some of their product ratings on EWG some are much better than others.

SheaMoisture– A link to their many products on Amazon

( From their website -They have many great hair videos for black hair problems.

No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Mineral Oil, No Petroleum, No Formaldehyde)

The products are of differing rating depending on the product on EWG

ZOE ORGANICS – This is a link to all the ingredients used in their products, essential oils, Castille soap and flowers. Great ratings on EWG


Photo by Marlon Schmeiski on

I read on one website, that it takes about a month, for your hair to get used to using a natural product.

It can feel oily or lanky ( yes I guess that is the word for it , just feels limp and sad !) .

I have had this happen to myself, perhaps it is more noticeable on longer hair , as my husbands short hair has been no problem.

I think for myself and our daughter it will be a trial and error to see what works for us, for yourself I guess it will be the same.

Everyone is different, what works on your hair type and skin can be very different.

Also as with anything else we use or consume, you have to make sure there are no allergies to anything.

In our family there are a number of allergies, namely nuts , which makes it hard to use certain oils such as Almond oil.


I love the expression of ‘NO POO‘ methods of washing your hair without chemicals.

This seems to be all over the Internet and homemade recipes. After making your own products you need to bottle it.

Finding a nice container was one of the little pleasures for us, not everything in plastic bottles.

Labelling it so the product was used properly. We also add a date, so we know how long the products have been hanging around.

Some of these are an amber color and some blue which has always been a favorite. 

I did a quick search to see what types are available on line . I have listed a few on these links.

Photo by Mareefe on





We made a decision to try some D.I.Y alternatives. We thought you might like to follow us on that journey, see how we get on and try some for yourselves.

The first thing we ordered was Castile Soap, in the liquid form by MYSTIC MOMENTS

We had a look on Amazon , firstly there is a number of these soaps available , different brands and sizes.

The other thing we noticed was a difference in price, one brand that we are going to do a trial with, had the normal soap and the organic at the same price. Which was great, so obviously, we ordered the organic one.

We have just jumped right in, and ordered a 10 kg size. This saved a little on postage as we ordered from the UK , and we are living in France.

We will take photos to show you how the recipes work. We have found differences in the thickness of some of these soaps as well. I am not sure it makes much difference to the lather, but it does make a difference to the thickness of the final product.


Since writing the original blog post I have also come across this website, they are offering other advice on using certain ingredients in your D.I.Y products.

They do not agree with some of the homemade recipes out there on the internet. 

The website is SCHOOL OF NATURAL SKINCARE  this link for the observations on ‘No POO ‘ Shampoo products. 


Since buying the Castile soap we measured out all the ingredients.

We made about a Litre of shampoo as we had a spare pump bottle to use.

Firstly it smells great with the addition of Lavender oil .

It does have a more liquid consistency . There are different types in the market. 


Since making this shampoo, I have read that you can purchase different consistencies of Castile soap. 

The same can happen when you make your own product, from the raw ingredients. 

The consensus seems to be that they can be of the same quality, but the thickness of the soap you use can determine what you want to use it for.

We have found that for us it was a little too runny ( see how we learnt how to thicken the shampoo below).

So you have to be careful when you use the plunger. We have been looking into how you can thicken the shampoo with natural product. This can be done in a number of ways.

We tried using the shampoo made with Castile soap, water and essential oils.

I found the coconut milk was better used on the ends of my hair, as my hair was too oily to take it on the scalp.

So my tip on this was to try it on the ends of your hair first, and see how you get on.

With my husband he loves it and doesn’t have a problem at all. So different for every hair type. 


We have seen the use of Xanthan Gum , I believe it is a sugar product which has gone through a process of fermentation with a bacteria. It is used to thicken or stabilise a product. It is also soluble fibre.

Just check that it doesn’t react to any of your ingredients before using it.

I had heard the name before, I know it can be found in a number of products from creams and food items such as ice cream, baked goods and low fat items.

Also you can thicken it with Arrow root or Cornstarch , this one I will try and let you know what happens. At least I have this in my kitchen.


I tried using just the cornstarch, perhaps it was the way I tried to thicken it, but this didn’t work for me. It just made the liquid white.

It was still usable thank goodness! and my hair didn’t  stay white, well not from the shampoo!

Going grey well that’s another thing.

(I have been also looking onto hair colourants too. You can find that on another blog on this site. )


Another method is salt . I am not sure that I want to add salt to a shampoo

Well, after the episode with the failure of the cornstarch, I resorted to the salt method.

Since then I have read on the internet ,that the salt can also be used as a preserving method. Which if you think about it ,has been used with foods for many years. 

It seems to be a process of slowly, slowly adding as it can make the shampoo gloopy if you add too much , maybe start with half an oz of table salt to one and a half ounces of warm water, after reading several accounts online, I think I would use  a separate bowl and just go carefully.


Well, I don’t know what I was doing wrong! I tried mixing cornstarch with some of the thin shampoo mixture that we had made up previously .I have to admit nothing happened except the mixture went white, as I mentioned above.

So on to adding salt.

Photo by monicore on

I just added a little of the shampoo into a jug and added a little table salt to the mix and kept stirring. I actually couldn’t believe my eyes it was like magic! It thickened up instantaneously, and I had added very little salt.

If you do this method yourself, go very slowly, I never believed that salt could thicken something so quickly.

After adding the salt I read that it will to continue to thicken over time as well.

I was worried then that the shampoo wouldn’t come through the pump!

When I first added the salt it had little bits of white forming, as you can see in the photo, but after gently mixing it seems to have settled down.

The consistency coming out of the pump now, is much more manageable. We  do find that over the day the liquid in the pump itself goes watery, and you need to shake it again to mix the water with the shampoo.

Other than that , thickening in this manner seems to work for us.


I have also recently seen some differing opinions, on what the safest way is to preserving your home made products.

The amount of recipes on line, that suggest Vit E as a preservative is vast, there is more information on why this isn’t a good idea below. 

On their website, SCHOOL OF NATURAL SKINCARE.COM  ,they mention that just using essential oils or vitamin E wasn’t good enough, and you could still get mould or a bacterial growth. 

I have come across a site called FROM NATURE WITH LOVE.COM this link goes into some detail on how to preserve your products. 

SIMPLY -EDEN .COM give a more detailed look into VIT E and the properties it has, also why it is not a preservative. 


This was quite exciting! that sounds sad, but it was our first major jump in to the unknown, and whether we could make this work.

As I mentioned earlier the consistency is thinner, and it does foam a little when you first start using it, but certainly nowhere as much as a commercial brand.

This does not affect the effectiveness of the shampoo.

My husband was the first to try it out. He says his hair has never felt so clean. It is a case of not expecting it to behave as your normal shop bought product.

Even though it is of a thinner consistency it doesn’t feel as though you are left with the build up of product on your hair. Which can leave your hair feeling dull and lifeless.

Looking on the internet there is an amazing amount of homemade recipes.

I found a great little website which has a few different homemade shampoos and also a dry shampoo that seems to be coming back into fashion.

8 Homemade Shampoo Recipes for Beautiful Hair!

I remember that when I was in school, if you were broke, you used a quick shake of talc! like a dry shampoo, but then you had the problem of white roots!

( also after looking into the ingredients of talc, that wasn’t such a great idea!)

Some of these recipes sound good enough to eat.

Probably worth  labelling  them correctly, my family are always on the hunt for something to eat!


Most recipes seem either to go for the same ratio  of water or tea to Castille soap and some drops of essential oil.  If you have dry hair an addiction of Aloe Vera Gel seems to be suggested.

Or a mixture of all three ingredients  1/3 of each- water, coconut oil, Castille soap also adding your favourite essential oil for example Lavender. Some of the DR BRONNER soaps contain essential oil too 

We are going to try two recipes, one with Lavender for the ladies in the house and some type of citrus one for my husband to make it more suited to a man.


Photo by Kaboompics .com on

I have seen mixed views on this, it can strip your hair of oils over time. I have also seen it advised just as an occasional use, to cleanse the hair from a build up of products.

I am not sure this is a good idea at all, the more I have seen information on it. 

This is a link to a comprehensive overview by HEALTH LINE


This was a real surprise  , washing hair with a flour was really out there.

But totally worth a try.

I have included a video by AGELESS ON which gives some simple instructions on how to mix up the “shampoo”

She explains why this works so well and the science behind using this flour.

(I have seen other reports that it is easier to use a light Rye Flour ,for ease of use, as there are less bits in it. )

 It is so cost effective too!

Well, I thought I would add a little update on using this method.

Gosh, it was really weird at first, I took a little bowl of about a desert spoon size into the shower.

I used the warm shower water to mix it, slowly so I didn’t get any lumps! I did add some essential oil too. 

I learnt my lesson after using the vinegar solution with cold water, never again! 

Yes, I plonked it on my hair and rubbed in through. I couldn’t believe when my hair came out clean.

Yes, you do have to rinse it thoroughly, or you will look like you have bits in your hair

( hense the light rye flour)

Or as my daughter said you could look like you have nits! charming! 


I have tried , and seen advice on using Chick Pea flour as well.

Just made up in the same way as the Rye Flour.

Not sure that this has the same effect of using the cornstarch ??? I need to look deeper on this . 


I wanted to give some other options that I had not heard of before, maybe a different way of looking at washing your hair.

Just today I came across another brand of hair products, they also make anti-aging face products and ones for Acne.

They are called JUST NATURAL HAIR Their range of products are listed as JUST NUTRITIVE They are made from natural oils, seed and nut( so beware if you have nut allergies) Though when you click on the product description it gives you a list of the ingredients. They only use essential oils to fragrance their products. They are Vegan and Cruelty Free. Their product range is for Face ,Hair, Body and Sun.

HANDMADE NATURALS – These look great , I have just been hunting for a product for our daughter to travel with. This description from one of their products , but many available on the link.

  • No colours, perfume, preservatives or sulphates (SLS, SLES, ALS)
  • 100% Natural Herbal Shampoo with botanical extracts; Free from synthetic chemicals; Unscented – no perfumes or essential oils; Paraben and sulphate free; Vegan and Cruelty Free Certified;

LAVERA SHAMPOO  and Conditioners and other products for skin care 

I have looked into this shampoo listed but I have not looked into their other products as yet. 

  • Vegan, Organic, NATRUE – 100% silicone free, paraffin free, mineral oil free – lavera cosmetics developed, manufactured and produced in Germany.


this has a remarkable few ingredients compared to most I have seen.

Purified water, aqueous extracts, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, organic euterpe oleracea

ACURE also have a number of other personal care products. 


They also produce hair colour and other hair products.

  • Free from paraffin oil or any other raw materials from petroleum chemistry


This company seem to have a mixture of shampoo style products available, we have not tried them, but they are herbal based.

(info listed on link) this one has Gogi Berry .

It does contain Lauryl Glucoside, and Sodium Coco-Sulfate



  • DEEP CLEANSING SHAMPOO CONDITIONER: a natural chemical free and sls free shampoo and hair conditioner from shikakai soap pod.

AMLA POWDER– this is by Natures Spirit

Information taken from the link included. This is from a gooseberry. 

  • Indus Valley Amla powder has multiple usage for both skin and hair. 
  • IT is AYURVEDA and contains Vit C , also an anti-oxidant.
  • Also found here on , with different brands available.


This is another soap nut product which comes in the powdered form. They also send you a recipe book to help which is a great idea for this very versatile fruit. ( info below from link)

  • STOPS HAIR FALL – There are numerous traditional methods to use dried Reetha for hair, to prevent hair loss, as well as leaving the hair silky and voluminous. It also has insecticidal properties, which aid in the removal of lice. 

I like the idea of something natural, also helping with the removal of Lice.

Any parent that has had to deal with that from school, and then deal with  very long hair, knows the agony of days of combing and trying not to use some type of insecticide.


Photo by Pixabay on

This was something I only came across recently when one of our friends was trying to get rid of chemicals in their lives after an illness. They purchase their shampoo soap bar from someone locally, who make a whole range of soap products.

They sound a good way to wash your hair naturally, also one less liquid to take with you if you have a plane journey!

A little add on to these, we had a local market stall that came to our small town. They had a huge array of soap made with only natural ingredients. There was one made for washing your hair. I cant say it was very pretty to look at , a bit rustic!

It was a little different at first to get the bar wet, then bring up enough product to wash a medium length hair .

The one that I have tried, does take all the greasiness from the hair.

There must be so many types out there ,with varying uses for different hair types. I have to admit I find them fascinating to trial, it is just so different to bottle shampoo.



This company make a variety of handmade shampoo soaps, made using the cold press method.

Also other types of soaps for varies uses. They have a good hover over method on all their range , linked on their name.

This one linked is for a Eucalyptus, mint and lemon, all from essential oils. The sound of this mixture of essential oils must be very refreshing to use.


They make a number of products including body washes and shampoo. 


(info from link)

ALL-NATURAL INGREDIENTS – Hab Shifa black seed oil shampoo does not contain sodium lauryl sulphate, parabens or petrochemicals. It is safe and gentle for use on all hair types.

DR BRONNERS – a multitude of products with Castile soap both liquid and solid soap.


( info from link)

Water, Saponified Organic Coconut*, Organic Palm* and Organic Olive* Oils (w/Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Essential Oils**, Citric Acid, Vitamin E.



(info on link)

You’ll never see anything we make with phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, SLS, or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives because we know those aren’t what’s best for your baby’s delicate skin.

Says Natural fragrance but not sure what that is. This all I could find in their information. 

(INFO on link  for LIMONENE from WEBMD  also Links to WIKIPEDIA and EWG )


( What’s in it?) This a main line brand that we had bought. 

I have added this information , just to give a little thought into what they add to your normal products. 

This has been the first time, I have actually sat down and analysed its ingredients .

Why do you need so many preservatives? Why cant they just use essential oils for the fragrance?

This is one bottle of product , when you consider everything else that you use in one day, it’s like bathing in a toxic soup!

Cocamidopropyl Betaine– used as a foaming agent, derivative of coconut, seems also to have some health concerns. Can also be found in some natural products as it originates from the oil of a coconut.

Citric Acid – at last name I have heard of ( present in lemons and other sour fruit)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate– a foaming agent , more information on the list of nasties blog.

Argania Spinosa kernal oil – An Argan oil

Carbomer– a thickening agent and emulsion stability.( a form of plastic)

Cocamide MEA– a foaming agent again, from the fatty acids from coconut oil , found in soaps too.(MEA found to cause concern when inhaled)

Cocos Nucifera oil– from dried coconut fruit

Dimethiconol– a non greasy lubricant, silicone oil,adds shine ( possible increase of  skin and eye  irritation)

Disodium EDTA– helps to prevent deterioration , used in soaps, shampoos conditioners, hair colourant

DMDM Hydantion– a preservative and antimicrobial agent

Glycol Disterate– a pearl effect and it also moisturises , from what I can find ( you may find more) it seems safe.

Guar Hyroxpropyltrimonium chloride-from Guar gum, it give a conditioning effect to the product.also provides an anti- static property.

Parfum– this can mean any number of hidden chemicals

PEG-45m– a binder, stabiliser ,

Phenoxyethanol- a synthetic preservative ,anti-bacterial and can be used as a stabiliser in perfumes

PPG-9-Propylene glycol – used in a wide range of products (generally considered safe, unless you have found more information)

Silica– found in cosmetics , shampoo, nail products, oral products. can be used as an abrasive , bulking agent.

Sodium Benzoate -also used as a food preservative.(E211) and a masking agent

Sodium Hydroxide-other more recognisable names are- Lye( found in soap) and Caustic soda , can also be used in making drain cleaner.

Used to hold the PH of a product.

TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, there is no way I can even pronounce this one. a cleansing agent, helps to wet the hair. I have found mixed reviews on this .

TEA-Sulfate– used as a detergent, seems again mixed reviews on safety, more linked with quantities used.

Butylphenyl Methylpropional – also used in producing perfume it has a floral scent, cosmetics and laundry products.

Another name for it is Lilial . It is a scent ingredient, synthetically made . It is meant to be rinsed, depending on the concentration .

Coumarin– a natural substance found in plants, Synthetically produced , it has a scent can be found in after- shave, deodorant, perfumes.

The safety seems to be in whether it is natural or man- made.

The chalkboard mag

Info on more chemicals 

Linalool-found in many flowers and plants. has a scent. Used in soaps, laundry products etc. also found in essential oils.