Your hair requires maintenance and consistent care to keep it healthy and looking/feeling its best, all of this is important to keep in mind when working to improve the condition of your hair, but be sure not to ignore the scalp!

The chemicals in many shampoos, conditioners, and other hair care products can have a significant impact on your scalp’s health. This affects your hair in turn since your scalp is your “hair factory” and requires certain conditions to grow the healthiest strands.

It is recommended by dermatologists and hair care professionals to make sure the products you use are more beneficial to your scalp’s health rather than thinking of hair care as the only priority. Your scalp absorbs the nutrients provided from beneficial ingredients, but this means that it also absorbs harmful chemicals. There are, of course, many common ingredients that shampoos and conditioners that numerous brands share; researching the properties of each one can be confusing. The following are common ingredients and chemicals, broken down so you can make the best choices for your scalp.

Sulfates

Shampoos contain sulfates because of their ability to make the shampoo foam up when scrubbed into your hair. Two of the most notorious sulfate compounds found to be irritating and harmful are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Both can cause separation in layers of skin, scalp rashes, and inflammation due to the drying and irritating properties. The reason sulfates are in many products like shampoo is because many brand commercials have trained viewers to believe the ideal shampoo should foam and make a nice lather when used. However, this ingredient can strip away all of the natural oils from your hair and scalp.

Like a harsh detergent, sulfates dry out skin and hair and break down the proteins that aid in growing healthy hair.

Parabens

Often found in many products meant for hair, including both shampoo and conditioner. Many of these harmful compounds are easy to spot in the ingredients list. Look for “paraben” at the end of their names, such as methylparaben and propylparaben. Like sulfates, parabens are also a class of chemical that dries out the skin and may cause irritation and inflammation. One of the main reasons to avoid parabens is their ability to alter your hormone balance after being absorbed into the skin. This imbalance can lead to hair loss and other immune system issues.

Silicones

A variety of silicones are regularly used in countless hair products but are most harmful in shampoos and conditioners due to their ability to clog pores and hair follicles, leading to dry hair from the inside out. Many products use silicones because of the shiny, smooth appearance they provide when they coat the hair shaft. As products with silicones are scrubbed into the scalp during a shower, they coat the entire scalp and cause the clogging described above.

Other products that contain silicones, namely styling products used to protect against heat tools, are safer to use as long as it is used at the ends of hair and kept away from the scalp.