Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Hair Products

Aug 22 , 2021


Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Hair Products

We are so accustomed to just putting things into our bodies- or in this instance our hair- without really paying attention to what's in them, that we are never truly aware of the harmful side effects. Chances are, half the products in your hair routine are synthetically derived and filled with substances that can potentially harm your hair. This is why it's extremely important for consumers to be aware of what ingredients are used. Not sure what to look for? Here's a small list of some of the main toxic ingredients that may or may not be found in your hair products.


We’ve already covered the negative effects of sulfate on hair, specifically curly hair in another blog post, but for those who haven’t had the chance to read it yet, I'll give a quick summary. Sulfates are cost-effective cleansing agents that are most commonly found in shampoos because they are extremely effective at dissolving oil and leave your scalp and hair feeling clean. They are what give it a nice foaming effect and the reason why we’ve come to associate foaming lather with being clean. Sulfate ingredients (the most common ones; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)) are very aggressive detergents and should be avoided as much as possible, especially if you have dry or fine hair. These hair types are more fragile, and the sudsy effects of sulfate shampoo can strip out too much of the natural oils, such as sebum, needed to keep your strands healthy and moisturized. They can cause dandruff, flaking, itching, excessive dryness, or the rapid tendency of some hair to get dirty quickly, and overtime, your hair will weaken, and end up looking dull, and become very prone to damage, breakage, and split ends. All D’Haute shampoos are sulfate free.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a cost-efficient, moisturizing oil that is used in many different cosmetic formulations. With its smoothing properties, mineral oil performs well as a detangler or hair conditioner, and has the ability to restore shine, reduce tangles, and prevent split ends. While mineral oil works well as a protective, glossy coating for the hair, it can’t actually penetrate the hair fibre and therefore won’t be effective at treating existing damage. This oil can also lead to build-up on the scalp and it causes strands to become stiff and lifeless as a result of being weighed down by leftover product residue. The buildup of excess minerals can not only weigh your hair down, making it look flat and lifeless, but can also make your strands feel drier and more brittle, which we all know can only lead to one thing: damage (and yes, frizz). It’s a good idea to limit this application to a maximum of twice per week. A more effective solution to those hair problems would be conditioners or leave-in products that contain coconut oil. Better yet, if you haven’t already, just start using pure 100% coconut oil.


Parabens are a type of preservative that basically help deter bacteria and mold. They are widely used in cosmetics, food, and drugs. Beauty products that may contain parabens include hair care products, makeup, and lotions. While parabens allow products to last super long, they can also enter your body through your scalp. 

Not to mention that parabens can cause a number of problems for your hair including drying, irritating your scalp, fading your color, frizz, and even hair loss. The most commonly used parabens in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.



There is alcohol in hair products for a variety of reasons, and not all of them are damaging. This tends to cause a lot of confusion about alcohol because it's basically an umbrella term (used to cover items that all fall under a single common category). Plus, most ingredient lists contain several different types of alcohols with different, admittedly rather confusing, names which just makes it 10x more difficult to identify which ones are actually harmful. Some of the most common short-chain alcohols that you will find in hair care products are ethanol, SD alcohol, denatured alcohol (alcohol Denat, SD Alcohol 3-A, SD Alcohol 30,  SD Alcohol 39-B, SD Alcohol 39-C, SD Alcohol 40-B, SD Alcohol 40-C), propanol, propyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol - these are the ones it’s best to avoid. While these alcohols are technically safe for use in cosmetics, avoiding drying ingredients will help your hair and scalp stay healthy and hydrated in the long-term.

Synthetic Fragrances

While fragranced hair products are undoubtedly experience-enhancing, you may want to look for fragrance-free shampoos and hair masks if you are prone to scalp sensitivity. These fragrances are known to lead to a range of skin reactions, whether that be redness, itching, hives, or dermatitis, which can damage the scalp and cause extreme hair fall. On the other hand, you can still use fragranced products on the ends of your hair without too much concern for irritation. Synthetic fragrances are also known to be carcinogenic and are linked to hormone disruption. 


Silicone is a mineral, and is an effective ingredient commonly used in hair-care products. Coincidentally, many people have a love/hate relationship with silicone products, and I’ll tell you why. When used in conditioners and styling products, silicone provides slip and shine, can help smooth and straighten hair, and gives hair a luxurious, conditioned feel. They are great for locking in moisture and giving the hair an instantaneous (but artificial) silky, shine. So in essence, we get a good shine for a couple of days, but over time it will attract more buildup on the hair and weigh it down. The exterior seal that it provides our hair cuticles also prevents moisture from penetrating the hair shaft and becomes like a magnet for dirt and other ingredients, which will result in a dry feel, dull appearance, frizz and you may even notice that your hair becomes weaker and more prone to breakage.

By nature, many silicones are very hydrophobic, meaning they do not wash out easily, so if you're using a form of silicone that isn't water-soluble (Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Amodimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Cetearyl Methicone, Dimethiconol, Stearyl Dimethicone) it can be really hard to remove it with a regular wash. If you still choose to use silicone products, opt. for ones with water-soluble silicones (Lauryl Methicone Copolyol, PEG-8 Dimethicone, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Dimethicone PEG-8 Succinate, Amodimethicone). These can easily be rinsed out of hair and won't cause buildup or dullness over time. Basically, they provide the benefits of silicone without the negative side effects. 

However, if you are looking for a longer term solution to nourish your dry, damaged hair, then using a D’Haute conditioner, D’Haute hair mask or D’haute serum that contains cold-pressed, plant-derived oils will give you healthier, luscious locks over time. Oils that are great for using in your hair include Coconut Oil, moroccan argan oil, and marula oil.

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