True Cellular Formulas Team - June 29, 2023

Unlathering the Facts

Why You Should Stop Using Traditional Shampoos

Unlathering the Facts: Why You Should Stop Using Traditional Shampoos

Have you ever considered the harmful effects of traditional shampoos? Most of us use shampoo as a routine part of our personal care regimen without giving much thought to the ingredients it contains. However, research has shed light on the toxic aspects of traditional shampoos, revealing potential risks to our health and the environment. In this blog post, we will delve into the hidden dangers of traditional shampoos, uncovering the harmful chemicals they often contain and their detrimental impact. We will also explore alternative options that promote healthier hair care and a safer environment.

Understanding Traditional Shampoos

Traditional shampoos, which line the shelves of our supermarkets and drugstores, are typically formulated with a wide range of chemicals. One of the key components of these shampoos is the lathering agents, which create the foamy lather that many of us associate with cleanliness. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and its close relative sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are commonly used lathering agents in traditional shampoos.[1] These ingredients effectively strip away dirt and oil from our hair, but they also have a dark side.

The Hidden Toxicity of Traditional Shampoos

Traditional shampoos contain several harmful chemicals that can have adverse effects on our health. One concerning group of chemicals found in many shampoos is parabens. Parabens are preservatives used to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. However, research has linked parabens to potential health risks, including endocrine disruption and reproductive system issues.[2]

Another problematic ingredient commonly found in traditional shampoos is formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. These preservatives, such as DMDM hydantoin and Diazolidinyl urea, release small amounts of formaldehyde over time. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and can cause skin irritation and allergies.[3]

Furthermore, the lathering agents SLS and SLES can lead to scalp and skin irritation, especially in individuals with sensitive skin. These chemicals can strip away the natural oils that protect the scalp and hair, resulting in dryness and itching.[1] Additionally, there is evidence suggesting a potential link between SLS and SLES exposure and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.[4]

The Environmental Impact of Traditional Shampoos

Aside from the potential harm to our bodies, traditional shampoos also have a significant environmental impact. When we wash our hair with traditional shampoos, the chemicals and toxins are rinsed down the drain and find their way into our water systems. Wastewater treatment plants are not always equipped to remove these harmful substances, leading to water pollution.[5] The accumulation of these chemicals in water bodies can have detrimental effects on aquatic life, disrupting ecosystems and harming biodiversity.

Additionally, the plastic packaging used for traditional shampoo products contributes to the global plastic pollution crisis. These single-use plastic bottles often end up in landfills or as litter, taking hundreds of years to break down. The production of plastic bottles also involves the extraction of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change.[6]

Alternatives to Traditional Shampoos

Given the potential risks associated with traditional shampoos, many individuals are turning to alternative options that offer a safer and more natural approach to hair care. Let's explore some alternatives that can help us avoid the toxic aspects of traditional shampoos.

Natural and organic shampoo options have gained popularity in recent years. These products typically utilize plant-based ingredients that are gentle on the hair and scalp. Look for shampoos that are sulfate-free and paraben-free, as these formulations eliminate the harsh lathering agents and preservatives commonly found in traditional shampoos.[7] Instead, they rely on natural foaming agents like coconut oil derivatives or herbal extracts to cleanse the hair effectively.

Many natural shampoo brands use botanical extracts, such as aloe vera, chamomile, or lavender, known for their soothing and nourishing properties. These ingredients can help maintain the natural balance of the scalp, prevent dryness, and promote healthy hair growth. Additionally, essential oils like rosemary, tea tree, or peppermint are often used for their antimicrobial and invigorating qualities.[8]

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can try making your homemade shampoo using simple ingredients. DIY recipes often involve combining natural ingredients like castile soap, apple cider vinegar, and various essential oils. These homemade shampoos allow you to customize the formula to suit your hair type and preferences.[9] However, it's important to note that homemade shampoos may require some experimentation to find the right balance for your hair.

Another alternative gaining popularity is the use of shampoo bars. Shampoo bars are solid bars that resemble soap but are specifically formulated for hair cleansing. They are often made with natural and organic ingredients, eliminating the need for plastic packaging and reducing environmental waste. Shampoo bars offer convenience and are travel-friendly, making them a sustainable choice for those seeking a plastic-free hair care routine.[10]

By exploring these alternative options, you can make a conscious choice to prioritize your health and the environment while still maintaining clean and healthy hair.

Taking the Leap: Transitioning to Non-Toxic Shampoo

Making the switch from traditional shampoos to non-toxic alternatives may seem daunting at first, but with a little guidance, it can be a smooth and rewarding transition. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process and address common concerns along the way.

Gradual Transition vs. Immediate Switch: You can choose to transition gradually or make an immediate switch to non-toxic shampoo. Gradual transition involves mixing your regular shampoo with the new non-toxic shampoo in decreasing proportions over time until you fully transition. This approach can help your hair adjust to the new formula and minimize any potential detoxification effects. Alternatively, you can opt for an immediate switch, especially if you have already been using mild or natural shampoos occasionally.[11]

Adjusting Expectations and Understanding Differences: Non-toxic shampoos may behave differently from traditional shampoos. They might produce less lather or leave your hair feeling squeaky clean. This is because they lack harsh foaming agents and synthetic additives. Instead, focus on the long-term benefits of using non-toxic alternatives, such as healthier hair and scalp, reduce irritation, and minimized environmental impact. Give your hair some time to adjust, and you may discover improved texture and overall hair health.[12]

Addressing Common Concerns and Misconceptions:

Will my hair be as clean and manageable? Non-toxic shampoos can effectively cleanse your hair without the need for harsh chemicals. They work by gently removing dirt and excess oil while maintaining the natural balance of your scalp. While they may not produce as much lather, they can still leave your hair clean, soft, and manageable. Remember that the transition period might involve some adjustment, but the long-term benefits are worth it.[13]

Dealing with the detoxification phase: During the transition to non-toxic shampoos, you may experience a detoxification phase, especially if your hair has been accustomed to the build-up of chemicals from traditional shampoos. This phase can involve temporary changes in hair texture, increased oiliness, or even slight scalp irritation. Be patient and give your hair time to adjust. You can support the detoxification process by using clarifying hair rinses, like apple cider vinegar, to remove residual build-up.[14]

By embracing a non-toxic hair care routine, you are not only making a positive impact on your health but also contributing to a cleaner and greener environment. Remember that everyone's hair is unique, so finding the right non-toxic shampoo that works for you may involve some trial and error. With perseverance, you can achieve healthier, more vibrant hair while minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals.

Embracing a Healthier Hair Care Routine

Transitioning to non-toxic shampoos opens up an opportunity to explore additional natural hair care practices that can further enhance the health and vitality of your hair. Let's delve into some holistic approaches to hair care that can complement your non-toxic shampoo routine.

  1. Using Natural Oils and Herbal Rinses: Incorporating natural oils into your hair care routine can provide nourishment, hydration, and shine to your hair. Oils like coconut, argan, jojoba, or almond oil can be applied as pre-shampoo treatments or as leave-in conditioners to moisturize and protect your hair from damage.[15] Additionally, herbal rinses, such as rosemary or nettle infusions, can help stimulate hair growth, reduce dandruff, and improve scalp health.[16]
  2. Scalp Massage and Stimulating Techniques: Massaging your scalp regularly feels relaxing and promotes blood circulation, which can enhance hair growth and overall scalp health. Use your fingertips to gently massage your scalp in circular motions, focusing on areas that may feel tense or dry. This practice can help distribute natural oils, remove dead skin cells, and stimulate hair follicles.[17]

Holistic Approach to Hair Health:

  1. Balancing Diet and Hydration: A nutritious diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is essential for healthy hair growth. Include foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon, chia seeds, and walnuts), biotin (found in eggs, nuts, and leafy greens), and vitamin E (found in avocados, spinach, and almonds). Staying hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day also supports hair health from within.[18]
  2. Mindfulness and Stress Reduction: Stress can take a toll on our overall well-being, including the health of our hair. Stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation can help promote a healthy hair growth cycle. Remember that a healthy mind contributes to healthy hair.[19]

Adopting these holistic approaches to hair care can enhance the benefits of your non-toxic shampoo routine. Nourishing your hair from both the inside and outside, promoting scalp health, and reducing stress levels contribute to your hair's overall health and appearance.


Traditional shampoos come with a host of toxic ingredients that can harm our health and the environment. Chemicals like SLS, parabens, and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives pose risks such as skin irritation, allergies, endocrine disruption, and potential carcinogenic effects. Additionally, the environmental impact of these shampoos includes water pollution and plastic waste. However, we can prioritize our well-being and minimize harm to the planet by opting for non-toxic alternatives like natural and organic shampoos, sulfate-free formulations, DIY homemade recipes, and shampoo bars. 

Embracing a holistic approach to hair care, which includes natural oils, herbal rinses, scalp massage, a balanced diet, hydration, and stress reduction, further enhances the health and vibrancy of our hair. Let's make the switch to non-toxic shampoos, unlathed the facts, and embark on a journey towards healthier hair and a safer environment.

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  2. Darbre, P. D., & Harvey, P. W. (2008). Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 28(5), 561-578.
  3. de Groot, A. C. (2009). Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Part 2. Patch test relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy, experimental provocation tests, amount of formaldehyde released, dermatitis, and review. Contact Dermatitis, 61(2), 63-85.
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  12. Rele, A. S., & Mohile, R. B. (2003). Effect of Mineral Oil, Sunflower Oil, and Coconut Oil on Prevention of Hair Damage. Journal of Cosmetic Science, 54(2), 175-192.
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