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Why You Should Avoid Sulfates and Parabens

Have you ever checked the ingredients in your hair products? If that's not something you usually do, chances are you're buying products that have harmful chemicals. Just walk down the beauty aisle in any store, and you'll find a ton of products containing synthetic ingredients. Many well-known brands add chemicals in their products that can harm your hair, skin, and other areas of your body you wouldn't think they could affect. Two ingredients in particular that you should watch out for are parabens and sulfates.

What are parabens and sulfates?

Parabens are man-made preservatives that mimic anti-microbial agents in plants. It's a cheap way to prevent mold, bacteria growth and stimulate hair growth, which is why brands find it beneficial.  There are many types of parabens, however, the most common ones found in hair products are methylparaben and propylparaben. Sulfates are chemicals used as cleaning agents typically found in cleaning supplies, detergent, and even shampoo. There are two types of sulfates you'll find in hair products: sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate. These chemicals are most effective at cleaning away substances, getting rid of excess dirt and oil build-up but it's extremely potent. 

How do they damage your hair?

By the sound of it, sulfates and parabens don't seem that bad for you, right? They may be helpful in some aspects, but any synthetic chemical is not going to be healthy for you. Anything unnatural will come with some side effects.


Studies found that parabens disrupt your normal hormonal cycle as they mimic estrogen and reduce production in women (referred to as phytoestrogens). Because of this, the chances of getting breast cancer are much higher. While parabens can cause internal risks, they can come with external risks as well. Your skin easily absorbs parabens, leading to irritation and harmful to your scalp. This preservative has been linked to skin conditions like dermatitis and rosacea, and can only be treated by prescription medicines. 


Sulfates are harsh chemicals, so when it's applied to your hair, it damages your scalp and hair follicles. It strips away your natural oils making your hair dry and brittle. Skin irritation is also a major issue many consumers face. The effects of skin irritation include redness, skin rash, swelling (inflammation), itchiness and hives. Anyone who has eczema, contact dermatitis, or sensitive skin should especially stay away from products that contain sulfate.

How can you avoid them?

Unfortunately, both parabens and sulfates are widely used in products that go beyond hair care– from skincare to foods. So it's important to double-check the ingredients before you buy a product. You can minimize your risks to damaged hair and skin by striving to use natural and plant-based products. Do it for your health, it will be life-changing in the long run!