The Senselessness of Commercial Hair Care


If a person looks at the advertising, they might think that to have the best and healthiest looking hair, they must buy and use the name brand shampoos and conditioners. These are not only normally quite expensive, they actually damage hair. What’s more, it is senseless to use them. Let me explain why.

Commercial shampoo is designed to remove dirt, oil, hair scales and skin flakes when it is used. It does this by the use of strong chemicals. These damage hair as they clean it. They also damage the scalp and actually cause more hair scales and skin flakes. There are several chemicals that are used, so only a couple of the most common ones will be mentioned.

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate

This chemical is a foaming agent that works primarily by disrupting the bonding in water. In other words, it destroys the surface tension of water, making it wetter.

The problem is that healthy hair contains water. When the surface tension of water is destroyed inside a strand of hair, most of the water is removed from the hair, making it dry, brittle and easily subject to breaking or splitting. Even combing and brushing water-depleted hair causes it to become severely damaged. Once it is damaged, repairing the hair is mostly futile until it grows out normally, which can take months. During that time, there is a good chance that the hair will be subject to more of this chemical, further damaging it and never letting it recover.

Cocamide MEA

This is a poisonous substance that comes from coconuts. It is a fatty acid that isn’t especially damaging to hair, except that it is abrasive. Also, adding and removing oils from the hair at the same time makes little sense, as the only thing that is accomplished is to replace natural oils with those not normally found in hair. This is commonly used as a foaming agent in commercial shampoo.

Propylene Glycol

Again, this isn’t especially damaging to hair, but it is a plastic that lowers the freezing point of water. It is commonly used in food and tobacco products as a preservative. In shampoo, it also has the purpose of acting as a solvent, allowing the other ingredients to enter the strands of hair. This substance is very much like Ethylene Glycol, most often known as “antifreeze” that is put into automobile radiators, and it can be used as an antifreeze substitute. (Ethylene glycol is toxic, while propylene glycol is not.)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

This is a detergent and foaming agent that is known to be a skin irritant. It isn’t exactly what one would consider as good to put on their scalp, yet they do so with many shampoos since it is a common ingredient. It is also quite possible that this is a carcinogenic or cancer-causing substance, though not enough studies have been done yet to confirm it.

All of this shows that commercial shampoos are senseless and expensive for what they do. If a person wants to actually be good to their hair, they can do it by making their own shampoo. Even natural soap is better for the hair than store-bought shampoo. This will naturally not stop people from buying shampoo. This is a multi-million dollar a year business and people tend not to be inclined to change, even when they realize that the products are far too harsh for their hair.

The sad fact is that for many people, as easy as soap and shampoo is to make, it is even easier to simply buy it.

Posted in musings and tagged , , , , , , by with 4 comments.


  • Joe Poniatowski says:

    That’s interesting, Rex. Are there any commercial products that are less damaging, for those of us that don’t (yet) know how to make our own?

    • rextrulove says:

      @jponiato, actually there is, though it isn’t something most people would think of: Dawn Dish Soap. I’ve used it in animal rescue and it is endorsed by the American Veterinary Association as being non-harmful to wildlife. If it doesn’t hurt wildlife, it isn’t very bad for human use, either. If you prefer scented shampoo, that is easy enough, too. Just add a few drops of your favorite scented essential oil to the Dawn and gently stir it in.

      • ptrk12 says:

        Its awful that companies are playing with people’s health and earning Millions, even Billions of dollars from these, and not only in US, but all across the world.

      • rextrulove says:

        I agree with you @ptrk12. It isn’t just the companies, though. We live in a world of instant gratification, so most people want things as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort. The companies wouldn’t make their billions if people didn’t buy the products, after all.

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