Over the Counter Shampoos and Conditioners

Happy turkey hangover days! Thanksgiving was a few days ago, but what I have to share with all of you is a little less than appetizing.

Here’s a scenario for you:
You go to the salon to get you hair cut and colored (or just cut this applies to everyone) while your stylist is shampooing your hair he/she explains the benefits and why you should use the shampoo/conditioner at home. A lot of people think they’re getting a sales pitch, which I felt the same way before I started cosmetology school. In reality us stylists know what’s best for your hair. It’s like going to the doctor when your sick. We’re not going to steer you the wrong way. The pressure is on us to make you look your best and if the canvas isn’t taken care of then you’re not going to have artwork, you’ll be left with trash or trashed hair. You get the picture.

I’ve gone over, in the past, how to shampoo and condition your hair, but is the shampoo and conditioner that you’re purchasing from drug stores or supermarkets (what I like to call ‘over the counter shampoos’) good for you and your hair? Most of these, shampoos and conditioners, contain fillers and thickeners so you will have to use more of the product. I’ve done some research that I’m dying to share. So I’ll let you be the judge.

I went to my local supermarket to read the ingredients off of a few popular shampoo and conditioner brands. This is what I learned:

Garnier Fructis Fortifying Shampoo


Main Ingredients:

Sodium laureth sulfate

Herbal Essences Shampoo and conditioner: Hello Hydration


Main Ingredients in Shampoo:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Main Ingredients in Conditioner:

Stearyl alcohol

Hydrating Macadamia Oil Shampoo and Conditioner


Main Ingredients in Shampoo:

Sodium C 14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
Cocamidopropyl betaine

Main Ingredients in Conditioner:

Cetearyl alcohol
Cetyl alcohol

Aussie Shampoo and Conditioner


Main Ingredients in Shampoo:

Sodium Lauryl sulfate
Sodium laureth sulfate

Main Ingredients in Conditioner:

Stearl alcohol
Cetyl alcohol

Suave: Humectant Moisture


Main Ingredients in Shampoo:

Sodium Laureth Sulfate



Main Ingredients in Shampoo:

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Selsun Blue


Main Ingredients in Shampoo:

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
Distearyl phthalic acid amide

I know to some of you, well most of you, are asking ‘What the hell? I don’t know what any of this means. ” So, I’ve provided the definitions:

Sodium Lauryl sulfate– a cheaper route to add foam and create lather in Shampoos. This chemical is mostly used to clean garage floors. It’s a surfactant meaning it lowers the surface tension of a liquid. It also can be used as a wetting agent, emulsifier, and dispersant. The highly irritating chemicals can lead to damaged hair follicles, skin, permanent eye damage to children, and even liver toxicity.

Water/Eau- I’m sure you noticed this in every item, but water is in everything. Eau is the company that provides distilled water for businesses that require it.

Dimethicone– Is a silicone used to make hair shiny and slippery. Silicones are bad, especially for
curlys, because it causes build up and dry brittle hair. The build up can block moisture that the hair needs. You’ll find this same silicone in caulking, lubricating oils, and heat resistant tiles. Disgusting! When my hair was long I had been using over the counter shampoos and conditioners. After realizing the side effects of the products on my long hair, I cut it off to start over.

Sodium laureth sulfate– Like it’s sister (Sodium Lauryl sulfate) It holds the same properties, however it is slightly less irritating and can’t be metabolized by the liver. The effects are longer lasting.

Ammonium Lauryl sulfate– this is a type of surfactant used as a foaming and water agent that disrupts hydrogen bonding in water. It can cause severe eye and skin irritation. If inhaled or ingested it will cause irritation to both respiratory and digestive systems.

Distearyl phthalic acid amide– This is the glue that holds the silicones together, so they may live in harmony. In other words, it’s an emulsifier. It gives the pearly look in detergents. This emulsifier is a pigment wetter and dispersant. The good news? It’s biodegradable.

Sodium c 14-16 olefin sulfonate– This is a long chain of salt bonds that are used as cleansing agents that dry and can irritate the skin.

Cocamidopropyl betaine– This organic compound comes from coconut oil. It is also a surfactant that causes allergic reactions to it’s consumers.

Cetearyl alcohol– I hate nothing more than seeing anything that has to do with alcohol in my hair. This is a white waxy solid. Keep in mind! Waxes = Buildup = Dry brittle hair.

Cetyl alcohol– Created from whale oil, beware vegans and herbivores, this is used as a thickening agent and a wax. Remember what wax does? If you have eczema steer clear of this fatty acid, it will irritate your skin for sure. It’s also used to lubricate nuts and bolts.

Behentrimonium methosulfate– This gentle hair thickener is made from non genetically modified rap-seed oil that does NOT build up. How nice.

Now that you’re the Walter White when it comes to shampoos and conditioners. Check out my sources and see what’s in your shampoos and conditioners. If you’re brave enough.

The Cosmetic Cops


Wiki wiki


Wiki Wiki



4 thoughts on “Over the Counter Shampoos and Conditioners

  1. I absolutely love your article! I started looking at one of my shampoos to see the ingredients and was pulling up the different chemicals online when I ran upon your article! I’m a big fan of The documentary GMO OMG (genetically modified organism) I try to buy natural with no GMO we are in the moonshine business and it’s very important to our family that we are organic we are going to get out stamp of approval Organics on our Hatfield & McCoy Moonshine (drink of the devil) can you please tell me what shampoos to use? I have very long hair and it can frizz up with curl I’m a natural redhead but foiled blonde! Please help me find a great natural shampoo for me and my daughter (8) years old and husband! My husband and daughter have thicker hair than me they have like 4 to 5 hairs per follicle it’s amazing lol lol lol!!! Thank you so much, God Bless! Amber Hatfield Bishop

    • Hi Amber! Thanks for your interest. I recommend Deva Curl for shampoo and conditioner. They don’t claim to be organic, but it’s healthy for any hair type. They don’t contain unhealthy ingredients and thats why I love them. Try the Low Poo first with their One Condition conditioner. The One Condition works as a daily conditioner, a leave in (use a pea size amount or smaller.), or you can use it as a conditioning treatment. It works for straight hair too and won’t make it curly. Let me know how you like it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: