The health and beauty of our hair also pass through shampoo. The shampoo is that product designed to remove sebum, dead skin cells, pollution and residues of styling products from the scalp and hair, in order to prevent folliculitis, irritation and seborrheic dermatitis. The shampoo can also be enriched with substances capable of giving the hair softness and shine, making the hair easy to comb but also soothing irritated skin (D Souza et al, Indian J Dermatol, 2015). There are countless varieties of shampoos on the market, with different ingredients and even different textures, both solid and liquid. So let's try to clarify and understand how to choose a shampoo that is capable of cleansing but that does not attack the skin and hair.
Shampoo, the ingredients to pay attention to
The shampoo must clean so the presence of detergents is necessary. However, some of these substances can be very aggressive and completely remove the sebum from the skin, thus causing possible irritation and even a greater production of sebum, with greasy and heavy hair. Sodium Lauryl sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate belong to this group. If possible, therefore, products with these substances among the first ingredients should be limited (Draelos et al, Int J Trichology, 2010). There are other cleansers that can be included in the formulation of a shampoo, which remove the sebum without excess and do not irritate, such as Cocamidopropyl betaine, cocobetaine, coco glucoside and sodium lauraminopropionate (D Souza et al, Indian J Dermatol, 2015). There are also natural detergents, such as soapbark, which are certainly respectful of the skin and hair but must be supported by other cleaning substances as they are able to remove sebum, dirt and pollution in a mild way (D Souza et al, Indian J Dermatol, 2015). Other ingredients contained in shampoos and to which it is good to pay attention are parabens, which should be avoided if possible. In fact, the frequent use of cosmetics, such as shampoos, containing parabens can cause skin irritation but also, in the long run, a possible hormonal alteration due to the estrogenic action of these substances (Matwiejczuk et al, Journal of Applied Toxicology, 2020).
Shampoo bars, yes, but beware of hard water
The trend of recent times is definitely shampoo bars, a kind of soap but designed for cleaning the scalp and hair. Shampoo bars have several advantages over the liquid version. First of all, in fact, they are perfect for those who travel and do not want to pack products that could break and spread, then the shampoo bars are also environmentally friendly, because they allow you to avoid plastic packaging, and guarantee a long life, since, being concentrated, very little of the shampoo bars is used for each wash. The problem is if we have hard water at home, that is, rich in calcium and magnesium salts. In this case, in fact, the shampoo bars, when mixed with water, form residues on the hair and scalp that are difficult to remove. This can worsen seborrheic dermatitis (Draelos et al, Int J Trichology, 2010).
Better to limit dry shampoo
Attention should be paid, at present, to dry shampoos. Although comfortable, a few weeks ago the news came that 70% of dry shampoos contain benzene, which is a substance classified as a carcinogen. This emerges from the analysis of an independent American laboratory that studied the emissions of 148 products of 34 different brands that are commonly found on the market (Valisure lab). Well, 70% of the dry shampoos tested had high levels of benzene, some even ten times higher than the limit indicated by the competent bodies. The benzene values were very variable, also changing between products of the same brand. Benzene, as mentioned, is a carcinogen, it can also be found in cigarette smoke or in cleaning or painting products. Long-term exposure to benzene can increase the risk of cellular degeneration but even in the short term there may be disorders, such as headaches and nausea.
Therefore, the advice is to limit the use of dry shampoos and in any case use them in well-ventilated areas.