The Gentle Approach salon is focused on offering beautiful and luxurious hair treatments that are as natural as possible. And we don’t do this to be part of a “cool green trend” or as an excuse to hike up prices! We use natural hair care ingredients for the health of our clients, because we know just how dangerous and damaging conventional ingredients can be.
Recognising Toxic Hair Care Ingredients
When you’re choosing a shampoo, conditioner or hair dye, at home or in the salon, it’s important to read your ingredient labels so you know exactly what’s going into your products. There are a host of not-so-nice hair care ingredients out there that can cause allergies, irritation or severe side-effects. We’ve rounded up five of the real “big baddies” that you should be looking out for and steering clear of.
What it is: Ammonia is a very potent chemical alkaliser that’s used in hair colour (as well as many home cleaning products). Ammonia is added to hair dyes to break through the hair cuticle and deposit the colour.
Why it sucks: This smelly stuff is bad news all around. Using an ammonia-based dye regularly will eventually damage your hair’s cuticle and degrade its structure. Ammonia sensitivity is also common, with many people experiencing itching and sensitivity, or even dizziness and nausea after using the dye.
What it is: Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling colourless chemical that’s added to many hair straightening treatments and “permanent blow-dry” treatments like the Brazilian Blowout. Formaldehyde is used to lock the hair into a straighter position, which keeps it smoother for longer.
Why it sucks: At best, formaldehyde is a respiratory irritant that can cause coughing, shortness of breath or trigger an asthma attack. At worst, this nasty stuff is classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the American Cancer Society. Exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to leukaemia or nervous system damage. In short, it’s not something you want in your home or on your hair!
What they are: Parabens very common hair care ingredients. They’re a family of low-cost, high-performance preservatives that are found in many hair dyes and other cosmetic products.
Why they suck: Parabens are xenoestrogens, or endocrine disruptors. This means that once they’re absorbed through your skin, they mimic oestrogen hormones and throw your existing hormonal levels off balance.
Prolonged hormonal disruption can affect your thyroid gland function and your reproductive health. In some cases, it’s even been linked to certain types of cancer.
What it is: Para-Phenylenediamine (PPD) is an oxidising colour pigment. It’s found in hair dyes, textile dyes, dark coloured cosmetics, temporary tattoos, photographic developers, photocopying and printing inks, black rubber, oils and gasoline. It’s a popular hair dye ingredient because it’s permanent dye that creates a “natural-looking” result.
Why it sucks: PPD can cause some of the worst allergic reactions of all hair colour ingredients, ranging from rashes, blisters and contact dermatitis, to full-on anaphylactic shock. This is one nasty customer you don’t want to mess with!
5. SLS or SLES
What they are: SLS, or sodium lauryl sulphate, is a soap-like compound that’s used in shampoo, detergent, toothpaste and many other cleaning products to create a lather. SLES, or sodium laureth sulphate, is a similar compound that foams and lathers easily.
Why they suck: These soapy, oil-stripping ingredients are harsh on your scalp, scrubbing away its natural sebum (skin oils), wrecking its pH levels and leaving it in a state of imbalance. After using an SLS shampoo or shower gel, your skin and scalp might react by trying to overcompensate, pushing out more sebum so you end up with an oily complexion and limp, greasy hair. On the other hand, your skin might react by becoming extra-dry and flaky.
A Gentler Way Forward
If this list has left your head spinning, you’re not alone! Ingredient lists can be a real minefield. If you’re concerned about what you’re putting on your hair, visit our salon or drop us a message, for advice on switching to healthier, more natural hair care ingredients.