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Have your ever wondered what all those weird ingredients are in some of your favorite products? Most of the ingredients we can’t even pronounce. Sometimes a lack knowledge can lead to damaged and unhealthy hair. Clutch in conjunction with one of our favorite healthy hair enthusiast and brands, Anita Grant, has come up with a list of just some of the ingredients you should look out for when buying your haircare must-haves.
Acetone – a chemical component found in fragrances, termed a hazardous waste.
Alcohol denatured – used as a solvent and preservative. BHT – a carcinogenic synthetic preservative and antioxidant which release formaldehyde.
Benzaldehyde – a chemical perfume found in skin and hair preparations.
Benzyl acetate – a chemical component found in perfume, a known pollutant and carcinogenic.
Benzyl alcohol – found in perfume, soaps and shampoo it is a respiratory tract irritant.
Benzophenones – chemical fixatives which slow the rate of perfume evapouration.
Carbomer – A synthetic gelling agent which also increases shelf life.
Animal Collagen – animal derived insoluble protien which suffocates the skin.
DEA (Diethanolamine) – readily absorbed chemical which reacts with preservatives to form highly carcinogenic substances, called nitosamines.EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid) – a toxic preservative.
Ethanol – Listed as ‘hazardous waste’ it is found in many perfumed products.
Formuldehyde – a poisonous colourless gas used as a preservative. Carcinogenic and neurotoxic.
Nitosamines – these are not intentionally added to cosmetics, but form when certain chemical ingredients are blended together, particularly ‘amines’ family. (eg. Diethanolamines)
Propylene glycol – a cosmetic form of petroleum oil, used in antifreeze. A preservative, fixative, solvent and surfacant.
SLES (Sodium laureth sulphate) The alcohol form of SLS see below. *
SLS (Sodium lauryl sulphate) A rapidly absorbed detergent which is retained in the body’s organs.*
*Both SLES & SLS are potentially carcinogenic if they react with other chemical ingredients.
Talc – (magnesium silicate) is often contaminated with asbestos.
Parabens: Parabens are synthetic preservatives which can be found in most skin and hair products. A research document titled **”Some Alkyl Hydroxy Benzoate Preservatives (Parabens) Are Estrogenic” conducted by **Dr. Edwin Routledge of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at Brunel University which stated that parabens – alkyl hydroxy parabens – alpha hydroxy benzoate (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl-paraben) have been shown to mimic oestrogen(s) / estrogen in the body.
**”particular attention being paid to estimation of the actual levels of systemic exposure of humans exposed to these chemicals”
Phthalates: Phthalates are a group of synthetic chemicals used in cosmetics as solvents and fragrance enhancers. They have been found to be toxic and have been linked to cancer. Two phthalates have now been banned for use in cosmetics by the The rules governing cosmetic products in the European Union”
Cosmetics legislation – Cosmetic products (Directive 76/768/EEC) because of their toxicity to the human reproductive system. If phthalates are added to a product as perfume enhancer there is no requirement legal European or American requirement to list them as ‘ingredients’ on the label.
Petrochemicals: By-products of the petroleum industry ie: Gasoline industry. This includes paraffin wax (see below). Petrochemical ingredients include perfume and fragrances, emulsifiers, petrolatum, propylene glycol and mineral oil. Mineral oil is manufactured from crude oil.
Paraffin: This common ingredient comes in the form of a wax or a liquid, derived from the petroleum refining process. Paraffin wax is a grey sludge which needs to be bleached and processed before it is deemed suitable to work with. It forms the base of many creams. It is used to work as a lubricant and emulsifier.
Urea or Diazolidinyl Urea, Carbamide, Diazolidinyl & Imidazolidinyl, also known as Germall II and is used in Germaben as a preservative for cosmetics. “Excreted from urine and other bodily fluids. In deodorants, ammoniated dentrifices, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos, etc. Derivatives: Imidazolidinyl Urea, Uric Acid. Alternatives: synthetics.”

Some Hair-Healthy Brands Alternatives

Anita Grant
Oyin Handmade
Marie Deneen
Qhemet Biologics
Aveda
Hamadi
PhytoSpecific
Jane Carter

For more information on unhealthy hair substances please visit Dictionary of Substances

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  • soinspired

    What a WONDERFUL article! Clutch Magazine is the greatest!

    When I found out about the unfriendly finds that are in a lot of the products I use, I started using many of the product lines you mentioned above.

    Thanks for spreading the knowledge!

  • Jennifer

    This article is why I LOVE this site. Who knew our products had so many carcinogens in them? Thanks Clutch for this vital info.