Dangerous Shampoo & Conditioner Chemicals: What Brands to Avoid and Our Must Use List

Everything we use on our bodies has a potential impact on our health, including our shampoo and conditioner. Have you ever considered that there may be dangerous shampoo chemicals inside your shower? And are the chemicals inside your personal hygiene products safe to use?  Mamavation has looked at specific brands like Axe Body Spray and their impact on your health. And they’ve also looked into which Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) personal care brands are safe and which are not recommended. Understanding you use your shampoo & conditioner regularly, you’d assume that they wouldn’t be allowed to contain harmful chemicals, right? Well sadly, this is not the case.…

 dangerous shampoo chemicals_ Woman in shower washing hair with shampoo. Beautiful woman showering washing long hair with splashing water. Brunette multiracial female model in shower.

We’re here to bring you the facts about your favorite shampoos and conditioners. Though they’re made out of really common ingredients, common doesn’t always mean safe. Most are made with strong chemical formulas which can be harsh to your skin and to the environment.

Hair care products like shampoo and conditioner are highly engineered. They’ve been designed to lather up and leave your hair “squeaky clean”, but that’s not even that good for you! Dangerous shampoo chemicals will leave your hair stripped of natural oils, which is why we need conditioner to re-moisturize it without leaving it oily. Achieving these effects, being shelf stable, and not using and harmful ingredients is a big ask for brands looking to make safer options, but it is possible.

Disclosure: This post was written by MADE SAFE.  MADE SAFE is the first non-toxic certification in the country that screens products across store aisles for chemicals known to harm human health and ecosystems. They’re experts on common toxic chemicals in products and safer options. The product recommendations, however, are from an investigation by Mamavation alone. We have included MADE SAFE certified products as the highest ranking because we trust what they are doing, but have also included other brands that are not certified with Made Safe. We’ve worked with some of the brands we’ve mentioned in this post, like Beautycounter, Dr. Bronners, Now Solutions, etc., but to ensure this list is useful to you, we have also included brands we have not worked with.

 dangerous shampoo chemicals


Surfactants: This is what makes your shampoo lather up with suds. We usually associate soap suds with cleaner hair, but that’s not necessarily the case. Sudsing doesn’t really occur much in nature, so it’s often the result of a chemical reaction or agent. While these chemicals aren’t toxic to humans, they can cause serious irritation and can be really harmful to aquatic life. Given the quantity of shampoo going down the drain every time we wash our hair, we’d prefer to avoid irritation and create a safer environment by choosing better products.

Preservatives: Ever noticed the expiration date on your shampoo? Nope, neither have we. That’s because shampoos are full of preservatives to keep them shelf-stable. They’ll last for a really long time without separating out or going “off”. These preservatives prevent the growth of yeast, mold, bacteria etc. But because they’re literally designed to kill things, preservatives are tricky and can have a range of toxicity problems for both humans and the environment.

Fragrance: This is definitely something to look out for. The term “fragrance” can act as a backdoor for all kinds of chemicals to sneak into your products. It’s often used as an umbrella term for up to 100 ingredients. Unfortunately, many of these ingredients can be toxic to human health, like phthalates (linked to reproductive and developmental harm), and synthetic musks (linked to hormone disruption and build up in our bodies).

 dangerous shampoo chemicals


Conditioner suffers from many of the same pitfalls as shampoo when it comes to surfactants, preservatives, and fragrance, but it has one more problematic ingredient category.

Emulsifiers: Emulsifiers combine oil and water to stop them from separating in your conditioner. They’re also the softening agents which can leave hair feeling silky soft.  But though these emulsifiers, such as siloxanes, are effective, they don’t break down in the environment. This is definitely bad news for aquatic life!

Ingredients to Avoid*:

*These ingredients are listed on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Red List, which is part of the MADE SAFE screening process for personal care products.

 dangerous shampoo chemicals

The following list of bad, better and best products for your health are provided to you by Mamavation. We used Made Safe’s list of ingredients to avoid in order to create it. Most of the brands mentioned here are not multi-level marketing (MLM) brands. If you are looking for a list of multi-level marketing brands check out post here.

Shampoos & Conditioners That are Bad For Your Health

These are all products that contain dangerous shampoo chemicals and ingredients that are to be avoided as far as possible, like carcinogens and endocrine disrupters in “fragrance” and at least two other ingredients hazardous to your health.

American Crew

Andre Walker

Bed Head


Brazilian Keratin


Carol’s Daughter


Garnier Fructis

Garnier Whole Blends

Infusium 23

It’s A 10

John Frieda

Johnson’s Original Baby Wash

Up & Up (Copycat of Johnson’s & Johnson’s) Baby Wash

Keratin Protein

Loreal Everpure

Loreal Original

Mane ‘N Tail

Mixed Chicks







 dangerous shampoo chemicals

Shampoos & Conditioners that are Better For Your Health

These products contain some dangerous shampoo chemicals like sodium laureth sulfate and “fragrance”, but they’re not quite as bad as those listed above.





Clairol hair food

Dove men+care

Essence ultime

Galvin & galvin london

Head & shoulders

Equate (head & shoulders copycat)

Herbal essences

Jhirmack distinctions

Mustela bebe

Old spice

Pantene pro-v



Ricitos de oro

Renpure s






White rain kids 3 in 1

 dangerous shampoo chemicals

Shampoos & Conditioners that are Best For Your Health

These brands do not contain phthalates or parabens. They may contain preservatives, but not ones I’m concerned about. You should feel comfortable using just about any of the products on this list, as they don’t contain dangerous shampoo chemicals.






Burt’s Bees

California Baby

Clean Freak Dry Shampoo

Dr. Bronners

Earth Mama Angel Baby


Fresh Monster Haircare


Johnson’s Baby Naturals

Nine Naturals

Now Solutions

PSSSST Dry Shampoo

Shea Moisture Baby Shampoo

So Cozy 3 in 1 Kids Shampoo/Conditioner & Body Wash

The Honest Company



True Botanicals*

*Brands with products certified and independently screened by MADE SAFE. This means they have independently verified that products are made with ingredients not known to harm human health and ecosystems.

 dangerous shampoo chemicals

MADE SAFE Certified Hair Care Products:

Hairprint: All Hairprint products are certified MADE SAFE. We particularly like their Chelating Shampoo, which is formulated to remove the buildup and dangerous shampoo chemicals left by conventional hair care products and hard water.  Before you switch your routine or try and go au natural, you need to chelate your hair. Even just hard water will leave residue on your hair so it’s a good idea to remove the build up from time to time.

Alaffia: Alaffia’s Authentic African Black Soap is a shampoo option that actually does suds. It’s creamy and leaves hair with a healthy feel.  African Black Soap is known as a detoxifier with healing properties—but it’s also strong, so daily use isn’t recommended for skin and scalp.

True Botanicals: Nourishing Shampoo also delivers a MADE SAFE certified luxurious lather that moisturizes, and its companion Nourishing Conditioner is designed to protect hair and restore shine.

Pleni Naturals: For your little ones! Apple + Broccoli Hair and Body Wash is made with ingredients from fruits and veggies, like broccoli oil, olive oil, and apple amino acids.


MADE SAFE certified products have been screened by scientists for known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, reproductive toxins, neurotoxins, behavioral toxins, flame retardants, heavy metals, high-risk pesticides, insecticides, toxic solvents, and harmful VOCs. Ingredients have been further examined by a chemist for bioaccumulation (builds up in human bodies), persistence (builds up in the environment), ecosystem harm, as well as for general and aquatic toxicity.




Join thousands of other moms in discovering what is truly healthy.

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Leah Segedie

Leah Segedie

Founder at Mamavation
Leah Segedie is the founder of the Mamavation® community, ShiftCon Social Media Conference, food activist and social media consultant. Through the Mamavation community, she teaches “digital moms” healthy living practices to combat disease in their home. Leah is also a very passionate food activist. She organizes trending twitter parties to educate the public about the food supply and other issues impacting public health. She also organizes blogging efforts through her network and hosts the ShiftCon Social Media Conference where green and wellness bloggers gather annually. And brands love to work with Leah because she has over 10,000 bloggers in the Bookieboo Network to create wellness related campaigns with.
Leah Segedie
2017-07-02T23:57:34-04:00 April 25th, 2017|Beauty, Featured|39 Comments


  1. Robert February 19, 2018 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    FYI. I had to throw out all of my Kiehl’s products, they all had SLS and PEG’s. NowI have to find a company that uses safe ingredients!

  2. Tony Lee February 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm - Reply


  3. Anonymous February 8, 2018 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    how about tea tree company?

  4. Irma Wilson February 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    I keep buying mor shampoos that I can afford,but most of these products are really no good for use on your hair. I really can’t tell from your bad or good which I have.

  5. Nicole January 10, 2018 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    I do not believe a lot of the information on your site. The shampoos you named that are the best for your health are really not.. I searched a few of them and many of them contained chemicals that are not good nor safe to be using.

  6. Rachelle January 3, 2018 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    What about Wen and also Monat are these safe?

    • Kathy February 2, 2018 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Monat !!I am passionately part of a healthy hair revolution, educating the public and hair professionals that there is a safer, non-toxic, naturally, botanically based way to treat your hair .❤️ And our fragrance is natural!!!!

    • Anonymous February 2, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      I would also like to know if Monat is safe to use! I haven’t read good reviews on it

    • Tony Lee February 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Monat is the best there is! Completely natural amazing product. Also has been proven to help re-grow hair.

  7. Anonymous December 27, 2017 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    What about caress

  8. Cherry Kuebler December 22, 2017 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    How about Monat? Pretty new in my area, lots of products!

  9. Victor December 7, 2017 at 9:48 am - Reply

    You have Suave on the good list and you have Suave on the bad list. I think that a correction should be made to this as to clarify the readers.

    • Brooklyn January 8, 2018 at 11:35 pm - Reply

      In my opinion this should be on the good list.

  10. Phyllis Byers October 28, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Have you studied Young Living’s Shampoos?

  11. somir September 20, 2017 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Appreciate it very much intended for publishing this kind of fascinating article on this matter. It has definitely created me personally believe as well as I’m hoping to learn to read much more.

  12. Nicole July 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    What about these brands!?

    Bumble & Bumble
    **Function of Beauty** – mostly interested in this one since they claim to be all natural ingredients and safe!

  13. Kathy Wilson July 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I’m wondering how Suave made the “bad” and “better” lists at the same time. Was this a misprint? I use Suave daily clarifying shampoo but will definitely discontinue if it’s on the “bad” list! Thanks!

  14. Eva Batenhorst July 19, 2017 at 12:40 am - Reply

    What is your opinion about Chi products?

  15. Carly May 26, 2017 at 10:15 am - Reply

    Thank you for this!!! What about Kevin Murphy? They claim to be healthy but I am suspicious…

    • Leah Segedie June 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Can you link up that brand please so we can follow up?

  16. Helene May 5, 2017 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    What about Monat – Modern Nature?

  17. Jean April 30, 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    What about Just Nutrtive?

    • Leah Segedie May 25, 2017 at 5:16 pm - Reply

      I’ll have to look them up! Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Jannik April 29, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    What about Nu Skin / Pharmanex ?

    • Leah Segedie May 25, 2017 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      We can look into this!

  19. Angela April 29, 2017 at 6:42 am - Reply

    I use and love Acure products. Clean ingredients without a big price tag. 100% Pure is another great brand for haircare as well as makeup! For the kids, Babo Botanicals is a favorite.

  20. Janice Bailey April 27, 2017 at 10:20 am - Reply

    I use fragrence free products and can only find one, Free & Clear, by Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc. How does it rate and are there any other fragrence free products out there

  21. Arvella April 27, 2017 at 1:27 am - Reply

    You mentioned Suave and Equate as being both both bad and better for your health. Which Ones? Also, what about Salon Selectures or Herbal Essences? Thank you.

  22. Tammy Rose April 27, 2017 at 12:34 am - Reply

    What about L Bri shampoo and conditioner?

  23. Tammy April 27, 2017 at 12:33 am - Reply

    What about L Bri shampoo and conditioner?

  24. John F April 26, 2017 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    You missed preservatives Methylisothiazalinone and the closely related Chlormethylisothiazalinone. These were deemed the “Allergens of the Year” by the Contact Dermatitis Association in 2014. It’s commonly found in shampoos and liquid soaps, even including Seventh Generation and Mrs Meyers.

  25. Elizabeth April 26, 2017 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Beautycounter is the best!!! I traded out my free & clear shampoo for Beautycounter, and I have never been happier! My hair now feels and smells great and I’m using safe products!

    • Leah Segedie April 26, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      We love BeautyCounter. We didn’t include MLM companyies but BeautyCounter is also selling in places like Target so we made sure to include them. You’ll find they did very well in our MLM write up as well, http://mamavation.com/2017/02/best-mlm-companies.html

  26. Monique Bottger April 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Have you looked at PURE Haven Essentials shampoo & conditioner?

  27. Sue B April 26, 2017 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Bumble and Bumble have become very popular shampoos and conditioners used in salons. Have they been evaluated? Thank you!

    • Leah Segedie April 26, 2017 at 6:20 pm - Reply

      I can look into them and evaluate and add. Thanks for that!

  28. Sarah April 26, 2017 at 11:14 am - Reply

    What about Aveda and Adama Ancient Minerals Shampoo? Thanks for this!!

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