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What’s in Your Shampoo? Here’s What You Need to Know About Parabens and Sulfates

What’s in Your Shampoo? Here’s What You Need to Know About Parabens and Sulfates

In a world where we've become increasingly aware of what we put in our bodies, it should come as no surprise that we're equally aware of what we put on our bodies, as well. As you’re shopping for makeup and hair products, chances are terms like “paraben-free” and “sulfate-free” will be plentiful, whether you’re specifically searching for them or not.

While these buzzwords are becoming part of our beauty vocabularies, you may not actually know what you’re looking at. What are parabens? Are parabens bad for you? And where do It’s a 10 products stand?

Let’s learn more about parabens, sulfates, and what you need to know about your safety.

What are Parabens?

Parabens are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics. The FDA defines parabens as “a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products.” They are often used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, and have been widely used since the 1950s. In fact, about 85 percent of cosmetics contain parabens because they have proven to be effective and inexpensive.

What are Sulfates?

Sulfates are another kind of preservative that can be added to your cosmetic products, but they differ from parabens in what they do. Sulfates are a type of surfactant (detergent, emulsifier, and/or foaming agent) that attracts both oil and water. In other words, sulfates are what makes a shampoo sudsy.

Are Parabens and Sulfates Bad?

On one hand, parabens and sulfates are working to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold — so that’s a good thing, right? On the other hand, parabens are considered potential endocrine disruptors. Studies have shown that some parabens specifically mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen and therefore can interfere with estrogen production. Too much estrogen can trigger an increase in breast cell division and tumor growth, which is why paraben use may be linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.

However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that parabens or sulfates have any link to cancer just yet. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review recognizes sulfates as safe up to a maximum concentration of 50 percent if they are properly rinsed off the skin. Additionally, the FDA continues to review published studies on the safety of parabens.

Bottom line? At this time, we do not have information proving that parabens, as they are used in your beauty and hair care products, have an effect on your health.

Depending on your hair type, though, it may be smart to avoid these preservatives. While sulfates help remove dirt and dead skin cells from your scalp, they can also strip your hair of its natural oils, making it dry and brittle. If your scalp is sensitive, sulfates can also cause irritation like redness, dryness, and itching. In addition, if you color your hair, sulfates can quickly minimize the color’s life.

If you have naturally coarse or dry hair, colored hair, or sensitive skin, you may want to consider going sulfate-free. Sulfate-free formulas are great for these hair types because they moisturize and cleanse without stripping strands of their natural oils.

How Do I Identify Parabens and Sulfates in My Shampoo?

Parabens are widely used in cosmetics, food, and drugs. Beauty products that may contain parabens include hair care products, makeup, and lotions. Cosmetics are required to have a list of ingredients by their common name. Luckily, parabens are fairly easy to identify because they usually have the word “paraben” within their name. The most commonly used parabens in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben. However, it can get tricky because they can also be listed as Alkyl parahydroxybenzoates.

Sulfates are also easy to identify. Usually, they are among the first ingredients listed and aren’t obscured by complicated names. Some of the most common sulfates used in shampoo are:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Sodium
  • Laureth Sulfate Sodium
  • Lauryl Sulfoacetate Sodium
  • Lauroyl Isethionate
  • Sodium Lauroyl Taurate

Still not sure if your shampoo has parabens or sulfates? Try the Think Dirty app! Simply scan your shampoo’s barcode and this app will give you easy-to-understand information about the ingredients.

Does It’s a 10 Use Parabens and Sulfates?

With all this new vocabulary and information being thrown around, you might be asking yourself, how can I find a shampoo without sulfates or parabens? The good news is that more and more brands are taking this caution into consideration. For example, at It’s a 10 we believe in doing what’s best for your hair, your environment, and your world. We offer several paraben- and sulfate-free shampoos and products, such as our Miracle Volumizing Shampoo, our Miracle Moisture Shampoo, and our Miracle Whipped Shampoo.

There’s no need to stress about parabens and sulfates when you shop It’s a 10 products. We stand by our products, delivering the best quality ingredients to ensure that you can achieve strong and healthy hair. It’s a 10 is where simplicity meets strength — a company that delivers multipurpose products with salon-quality results.



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