- Social media users – including Cardi B – credit their healthy hair to natural alternatives to shampoo.
- dr Alexander Dane, a board-certified dermatologist, said some natural alternatives, like rice water, can benefit hair.
- Other products, like baking soda and castor oil, can be more damaging to hair and skin.
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The growing awareness of how ubiquitous toxic chemicals are in personal care products could encourage people to buy shampoos made with fewer, all-natural ingredients.
Tribal peoples have used natural ingredients like yucca root and chickpea flour to wash their hair for centuries, but social media has sparked renewed interest in these shampoo alternatives.
Cardi B jumped on the trend, telling her Instagram followers this week that she washes her hair with boiled onion water.
“For my last two washes, I boiled onions and used the water to wash my hair,” she said in an Instagram post. “It’s odorless and I find it adds shine to my hair.”
Shampoo naysayers may be right, said Dr. Alexander Dane, a New Jersey-based board-certified plastic surgeon. Chemicals in shampoos can strip hair of its natural oil, and some are even known to cause cancer or disrupt your body’s hormones.
“People are becoming more conscious of what they are putting in and on their bodies and we are seeing people turning to natural alternatives as an alternative to these store bought, synthetic shampoos which can sometimes actually do more harm than good,” Dane told Insider.
Shampoos can contain chemicals that strip your hair of color, natural oils, and moisture
According to Dane, the “clean beauty” trend likely has something to do with Americans becoming more aware of the dangerous health effects of chemicals in their beauty products.
“Often if you go to your local drugstore and take a bottle of shampoo and turn it over to see the ingredients, you’ll see that there are 20 to 30 ingredients listed, most of which are synthetic with numerous chemicals that are actually banned other countries,” said Dane.
The dermatologist said some of these chemicals include:
- sulfatea foaming agent in hair care products that strips hair of its natural oils and dyes and can cause irritation.
- triclosana chemical added to extend shelf life in antibacterial products that affect the body’s hormones and have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems.
- parabens, a chemical that strips hair of color and can cause dryness and irritation. Researchers are studying the effects of parabens on breast cancer.
- benzenea known human carcinogen that may have contaminated Procter & Gamble’s shampoo products in 2021, prompting a recall.
- formaldehydea known human carcinogen that is still used in some shampoos.
Natural shampoos that damage your scalp
Dane said while hair can benefit from natural alternatives to shampoo, overdoing it can have negative effects on skin and hair. “Just because something’s natural doesn’t mean you should overdo it,” Dane said.