10:30 Hair CareNatural Living & Health

Chemicals in Men’s Shampoo to Avoid & Natural Shampoo Alternatives

You’ll be surprised at all the scary ingredients hiding in the average commercial shampoo. Here’s a look at the top toxins, how to avoid them and our suggestions for natural shampoo alternatives for nourished, happy and healthy hair.

Here at Dr. Squatch we usually say that if you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t put on your body. That’s why we ditch the common chemicals found in most shampoos in favor of natural shampoo ingredients, like citric acid and tea tree oil (which technically you shouldn’t eat, but you get the idea). 

It’s not that we’re crazy Sasquatch fanatics obsessed with sourcing as many ingredients as possible from nature itself – even though we are. We’ve just moved away from the standard, commercial shampoo recipe because it includes unnatural, unnecessary chemicals and toxins- this stuff scares even the Sasquatch himself!

These common ingredients can have some serious side effects, like causing skin irritation and (brace yourself) lowering your testosterone levels – yes, really. We’ll explain that one more, don’t worry.







The Top 5 Chemicals in Shampoo to Avoid

Here’s a look at the five toxins that we would never use on our heads (or in our natural shampoo)- and our tips for how to avoid them to keep your hair nourished, healthy and happy. Read on, your man-bun (or crew cut) will thank us. 

1. Sulfates

What are Sulfates Doing in Shampoo?

You know that sudisfying lather you get when you rub a dollop of shampoo into your scalp? Hate to burst your bubbles, but those are usually caused by sulfates.

Sulfates are synthetic chemicals that act as a harsh detergent, similar to the stuff you scrub your pots and pans with.

What Sulfates are Doing to You:

They’re great at removing dirt and oil – almost too great at it, since they also strip away your hair’s natural oils, leading to dry and brittle strands. Even worse, they may cause swelling, rashes and itchiness – especially if you have sensitive skin

Even reputable brands like Head and Shoulders, Pantene and Dove list sulfates at the top of their ingredient list – usually an indicator that there are a whole lot of skin-damaging toxins in that bottle. Don’t worry- we know how you can still get that lather that you love, but without the scary side effects.

What We Use Instead | Natural Shampoo Alternative

    A coconut-based lathering agent

     Most other natural shampoos forgo the lather altogether, but we couldn’t handle a shampoo without those trademark suds. Plus, coconut oil is great for your hair– it helps you grow a thick, moisturized mane.  

Check your labels for these sneaky sulfate aliases: Sodium lauryl (or laureth) sulfate (SLS), Laureth Sulfate Sodium, Lauryl Sulfoacetate Sodium, Lauryl Isethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Taurate

2. Fragrance vs. Natural Fragrance

What are Fragrances Doing in Shampoo?

They make shampoo smell good We can skip this part…

What Fragrance is Doing to You:

Companies are sometimes sneaky with the use of the word “fragrance” on labels since they’re not required to tell you a damn thing about how or why their products smell the way they do- and we’re willing to bet that they’re not using natural essences.

Make sure you’re using products that specify “natural fragrance,” since a lot of the time, the word “fragrance” actually means phthalates (see: toxin #3). We’ll explore those next.

What We Use Instead | Natural Shampoo Alternative

100% plant derived oils

     These natural alternatives won’t leave you smelling like Mommy’s little boy. Our natural, chemical free shampoo has an intoxicatingly manly fragrance thanks to rosemary and tangerine. Plus, plant derived essential oils do more than just make you smell nice. Take Jojoba oil, for example, which has many uses and health benefits like treating psoriasis and even hair loss.

Check your labels for these sneaky fragrance aliases: Parfum, DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate), DMP (dimethyl phthalate), BBP (benzyl butyl phthalate), DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate)

3. Phthalates

What are Phthalates and What are they Doing in Shampoo?

You may have seen phthalates hiding out in the fragrance aliases that we mentioned before.

Well, Phthalates are chemical esters that are responsible for more than just the scent of your shampoo. Manufacturers also use them as plasticizers to keep everything mixed together.

What Phthalates are Doing to You:

Sadly, phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which means that they mess with your hormones. Yes, that includes lowering your testosterone levels and sperm count.*

* If you’re worried that those phthalates already got to you, check out our guide on beating low testosterone. 

Since shampoos with unspecified fragrance may or may not contain this toxin, it’s best to stick with brands that tell you that they use natural fragrance upfront.

What We Use Instead | Natural Shampoo Alternative

Xantham Gum

   It may sound like another chemical additive lurking in ingredient labels, but it’s actually a natural ingredient that comes from green leaves. You can find this plant-based thickener in a lot of organic, natural foods (like salad dressing, fruit juice, bread ) – and in our natural shampoo and conditioner. No phthalates here! 



Check your labels for these sneaky phthalate aliases: Unspecified “Fragrance” (or any fragrance terms listed above, like parfum)

4. Parabens

What are Parabens Doing in Shampoo?

Lots of shampoos have a kind of preservatives called parabens in them to prevent bacteria and mold from growing.

What Parabens are Doing to You:

Unfortunately, like sulfates, parabens can disrupt your hormones, irritate your skin and cause allergic reactions. 

What We Use Instead | Natural Shampoo Alternative

Citric acid

Citric acid

This natural preservative creates an acidic environment so bacteria can’t grow — unlike your healthy hair, which will flow freely in the wind. Plus, citric acid helps to gently exfoliate your scalp, getting rid of dead skin cells to make room for healthy new cells.

Check your labels for these sneaky paraben aliases: Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben

5. Tricolsan

What is Tricolsan Doing in Shampoo?

Would you ever wash your hair with hand sanitizer?

Chances are, you probably have since the chemical tricolsan, an active ingredient in hand sanitizer, is also found in a lot of personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and toothpaste. Similar to parabens (see: toxin #4), it’s used as a preservative.

What Tricolsan is Doing to You:

By now you know the drill. This additive isn’t the best for your health- or the planet.

Since it takes a while to break down, triclosan makes its way into our water supply, damaging the planet while it threatens your health. It can cause all sorts of health issues like lung problems, weakened immunity, skin irritation and, yup, that endocrine disruption again.

What We Use Instead | Natural Shampoo Alternative

essential oil tea tree oil

Tea Tree Oil

You don’t need all those harmful chemicals to kill germs, since tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial that helps to keep the funk away. This superpower ingredient has a bunch of other benefits too — it helps to open up hair follicles and is even believed to encourage hair growth (no bald patch here!), while keeping your hair moisturized and dandruff-free. Tea tree is also great for your skin and may alleviate symptoms of inflammation, acne, eczema and scars.

Check your labels for these sneaky triclosan aliases: TCS, Irgasan DP-300, Lexol 300, Ster-Zac, Cloxifenolum, Cloxifenolum, Triclocarban (a sister toxin), Microban (in plastics and clothing)

The Bottom Line

Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize all of these aliases — you and your hair are always safe with the Squatch! Whenever you use our products, you can rest assured that we skip all the unnecessary junk. Now you can get back to singing in the shower without a care in the world!

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