You’ve heard “beauty is pain,” but do you know what that means? Most people’s bathroom counter is filled with beauty products from head to toe. But many of these products contain toxic chemicals that can irritate your skin and hair and possibly even lead to long-term health problems.

This article will explore hair products’ potential adverse health impacts and how to avoid them with safer alternatives.

Common Chemicals in Hair Products and Their Health Risks

Hair products have many chemicals that can negatively influence your health. Here are some of the common chemicals found in hair products.

  • Parabens: found in shampoos and conditioners, parabens are a class of chemicals that are known to mimic the hormone estrogen. They’re also known to interfere with male reproductive development and function. Generally, parabens are present in cosmetic products’ 0.01 to 0.3% range.
  • Silicones: These ingredients coat the hair shaft and make it feel smooth, but they can clog the pores on your scalp if used regularly over time. This can lead to acne breakouts or even skin irritation if you have sensitive skin.
  • Phthalates: These additives keep fragrances from evaporating too quickly from products like perfume or cologne. An article from the NCBI website shows that dimethyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate are widely used as solvents and fixatives in perfumes, which help the scent to stay longer. However, they’ve also been linked with reproductive health issues such as infertility when exposed during pregnancy.

Likewise, there’s also formaldehyde, a gas that can be released upon heating hair straighteners. All of these harmful chemicals are linked with multiple health risks. For instance, according to TorHoerman Law, LLC, research has shown that phthalates and formaldehyde can increase the risks of uterine and breast cancers in women.

Impact of Hair Products on Hair and Scalp Health

Hair loss is one of the most common problems caused by hair products, especially dyes and relaxers. These chemicals damage your scalp by drying it out, making it more prone to infection or irritation. The result is that your hair will break off at an accelerated rate, which makes you look older than you are.

You might not notice this right away because when you first start using these products, they may make your hair more substantial in the short term, but over time their effects become more evident as they damage individual strands from within the follicle itself. 

It’s also important to note that certain types of shampoo contain ingredients that strip away natural oils from your scalp while washing them out. This leaves an irritated area where bacteria could grow if left untreated.

Hair Products and Cancer

Long-term exposure to chemicals in hair products can increase your risk of developing cancer. The National Toxicology Program has found that some chemical compounds in hair products can cause cancer or reproductive harm.

While you should always practice safe habits when using beauty products, the main thing you can do right now is avoid using products with known carcinogens like formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, which are present in many common shampoos and conditioners.

Additionally, products like hair straighteners are also associated with increased cancer risks. For instance, recent studies show that women who use hair straightening products are twice as likely to get uterine cancer.

Due to increased instances, people are now filing lawsuits against hair straightener manufacturers. These hair straightener lawsuits allege that the manufacturers failed to warn the users of the potential health concerns of using these products.

The first hair straightener lawsuit was filed in October 2022, and it was 32-year-old Jenny Mitchell was the first woman to file a lawsuit after being diagnosed with uterine cancer.

If you have been constantly using such products and have been diagnosed with cancer after that, you can also file a hair straightener lawsuit. If the connection is proven through medical records, you can expect reasonable compensation for the problems you have faced.

Allergic Reactions and Sensitization

Your immune system causes allergies. When you’re allergic to something, your body’s natural defense mechanism overreacts to the presence of that particular substance. This causes symptoms such as swelling, itching, and hives in the case of skin contact, respiratory issues like wheezing or difficulty breathing if inhaled, and vomiting or diarrhea if ingested.

Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, depending on your exposure to the allergen. They also vary in terms of what type of reaction they cause. Allergic reactions can be triggered by inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact with an allergen, such as hair products containing formaldehyde resin.

Many people have been filing a lawsuit against this, too. In 2023, around 30 women filed a lawsuit against Olapex, citing that the famed products contain Lilial, a chemical compound found in perfumes. The products supposedly also contain non-water soluble ingredients that clog the follicles.

Respiratory Problems

Hair products can cause respiratory problems and serious long-term health effects. This is because many products contain chemicals known to irritate the lungs and airways. The most common symptom of respiratory irritation is coughing, but other symptoms may include shortness of breath or wheezing.

Suppose you experience these symptoms after using hair products like gel or mousse. In that case, you must seek medical attention immediately, especially if it continues for over a day. A doctor can diagnose what’s causing your symptoms and recommend ways to prevent them from happening again.

The Relation Between Dermatitis and Hair Products

Dermatitis is a potential long-term health effect. A chemical, an allergen, or an irritant can cause dermatitis. It can also be temporary or long-lasting, depending on the type of dermatitis you have and how often you’ve been exposed to the ingredient that causes it. In some cases, exposure to one substance may cause more than one type of skin reaction at once. For example, if you have eczema and psoriasis.

Dermatitis can be caused by a single exposure or repeated exposure over time. If you notice any irritation after using hairspray regularly for several weeks or months, then it’s worth checking out what ingredients are there before continuing to use.


It’s important to remember that there are plenty of safe alternatives out there, so don’t limit yourself. When purchasing your next shampoo, we recommend looking into natural ingredients like coconut oil or aloe vera gel.

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