Are Nature Based Shampoos Better?

There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of nature based shampoos and cosmetics and how dangerous things like sulfates, phthalates, parabens, and silicones are. But what are these things, and why are they in my shampoo?

They were originally developed for shampoos to make the products more desirable for customers. Why might they be desirable? Well, let me tell you.


Sulfates are what makes your shampoo foamy and sudsy. A very satisfying feeling when you’re washing your hair. They are also found in soaps, laundry detergents, and dishwashing liquid. They do allow the shampoo to get rid of the dirt and oils, but they tend to strip the hair of the essential oils and break down hair protein, causing the hair to be weakened and break. Breaking down the protein can also reduce hair growth. Sulfates, such as Sodium Laurel Sulfate, or Sodium Laureth Sulfate, can irritate your skin and scalp, causing a rash and inflammation. This inflammation can cause hair loss and retard hair growth.

There has been some discussion about sulfates being linked to cancer. Apparently there is no direct proof that that sulfates are carcinogens, according to the articles I read. They have been linked to a breakdown in cell membranes, since they break down protein. And they have been found to leave residue in the heart, lungs, and brain. Sulfates should be avoided by people with eczema, rosacea, contact dermatitis, or sensitive skin. Sulfates may not be good for people with dry or fine hair.


Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetic products, including shampoos. The prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and were designed to protect the product and consumers. They go by several names including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, bbutylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, and bensylparaben.

Parabens have been linked to breast cancer. They mimic estrogen and bond to the estrogen receptors in cells. Parabens have actually been found in breast tumors. There are those who say that the idea of parabens causing cancer has not been proven. Since they mimic estrogen, they have been known to disrupt fertility, reproductive development, and birth outcomes. In males, they can decrease the sperm count and lower testosterone levels. Parabens have been found in urine in both men and women of all ages. With the use of Parabens free shampoos and soaps, the levels of parabens in the urine decreased by 45%. Parabens may accumulate in the body. Metabolites of parabens have been found in body fat.

Parabens can damage your skin and scalp, decreasing hair growth and causing thinning of hair.


Phthalates are used as solvents and plasticizers in cosmetics. They have been used in nail polishes to prevent cracking, in hair spray to give it that flexible hold, and as a fixative in fragrances. They are absorbed through the skin and from things on the skin, and can stay in the body for two days.

Phthalates are also founding toys that children might suck on, vinyl flooring detergents, lubricating oils, and personal care products such as nail polish, hairsprays, after shave, lotions, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. They have been found in food, particularly lipid rich food, due to packaging.

Phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, reproductive system, and endocrine system. They have been linked to breast cancer, developmental issues, fertility, obesity, and asthma.

According to my research, many phthalates are not being used in cosmetics. DEP, which is diethyl phthalate is used in a limited basis, and it is not deemed to be as dangerous as the other phthalates. Look for DEP, DBP, DEHP, and fragrance when looking for phthalates in cosmetics.


This will date me, but I actually remember commercials for a hair conditioner that started using silicone. It was supposed to coat each strand of hair and keep the moisture locked in, keeping the hair smooth and tangles away. And they are recognized for their lubricating properties and the soft smooth feel that they create.

Long term use of silicones can result in build up of product on the hair or skin. Build up on the hair can cause brittleness and breakage, and the silicone can seal each hair and keep your hair from absorbing water and nutrients. They can weigh your hair down and make it look dull and lifeless. And silicones attract and hold environmental dirt to your hair, making it need more frequent shampooing. If you have curly hair, you may notice less curl definition. Your hair may look shiny, but it is a fake, plastic shine.

Silicones come in consolable and water soluble forms. The non soluble silicones can not be removed or penetrated by water. It can be removed by using a clarifying shampoo or a shampoo with harsh sulfates that can dry or damage hair. Some people claim that apple cider or white vinegar can remove the silicone buildup. Water soluble silicones can dissolve in water and are easier to wash out of hair using a mild shampoo.

Silicones can be identified by the names Dimethicone, Cycolmethicone, Amodimethicone, and Phenyl Trimethicone. Basically if it ends in “cone” it is a silicone.


Formaldehyde is that stinky stuff you might have smelled in biology lab, should you have had the good fortune to dissect a frog.  It is often found in shampoos and liquid body soaps, but is also found in nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair smoothing product, baby shampoo, color cosmetics.  

Formaldehyde is carcinogenic, and can cause skin irritations.  It can be released from preservatives used in hair products such as Quaternium 15, hydantoin, formalin, ethylene glycol, imidazolidinyl urea, bronopol, and several other things with long, complicated names.

Keratin treatments designed to straighten hair coat the hair with methylene glycol, a mixture of formaldehyde and water.  Formaldehyde is released into the air when heat is applied and can cause irritation of the eyes and respiratory problems.  Products from salons may be especially problematic as they are exempt form labeling laws. 

Nature Based Shampoos

All this information leads me to believe that nature based shampoos and cosmetics are the best for me.  While exposure to these chemicals may be small with each use, long term exposure can prove detrimental and possibly dangerous.  When I use a nature based shampoo, my hair feels soft and looks shiny, the real, healthy shine. It also stays clean for several days, and I washed my hair daily for almost 50 years. With a nature based shampoo, I have new hair growth in areas that my hair was thinning and no build up on my hair, brushes, or combs. I have started using nature based skin care also, and I can see a huge difference.  We each have to make our own choices, but with all the potential problems from various chemicals, I will choose to minimize my contact with them.

Blessings and Peace,



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