Alrighty folks, this article is going to touch on the subject that actually inspired me to start Shuai Ge in the first place – harmful ingredients in hair products (though a lot of these can be found in skin care products as well as soaps).

I’ll do my best to keep this short (I’m actually writing this to avoid writing an essay), but if you need a TL;DR, scroll down to the bottom!

If you’ve never taken an organic chemistry class before, the ingredients label on pretty much any shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. can be pretty daunting. Heck, even if you have taken orgo you’d still be lost.

So, let’s see if I can make this digestible. As a rule of thumb, products containing fewer chemicals should be healthier for you.

The following list is in no way comprehensive, but it’ll give you a great place to start.

1. Cocamide DEA – According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), this derivative of coconut oil (pure coconut oil is good for your hair) has been linked to cancer when applied to rats and mice. In addition, the EPA of California has recognized this compound as a human carcinogen since 2012, but it isn’t terribly dangerous below a certain concentration level. Better to be safe than sorry though. It comes in other forms including: cocamide MEA and cocamide TEA.

2. Parabens – No, I’m not saying “congratulations” in Portuguese. These antifungal agents are found in a variety of beauty products, and are known estrogen mimickers. So if you’re a guy, you probably know that it’s not great to be adding estrogen to your system unless you want bad things happening to your equipment. If you’re a lady, these chemicals have been linked to breast cancer. Technically this applies to the men out there reading too.

3. Certain Alcohols – Everyone knows what happens when you drink alcohol, but what happens to your hair when alcohol is in your products? It dries out your hair, that’s what. However, not all alcohols are bad. Fatty alcohols like stearyl, cetyl, and myristyl alcohols can actually add moisture and shine to your hair.

4. Sulfates – These compounds strip your hair of its natural oils, and thus leave your hair dry. If you remember from Healthy Hair Vol. I, dry hair is weak hair. They’re often found in conjunction with sodium (salt for the non-scientifically inclined), which as you may know soaks up water.

TL;DR: Cocamide DEA/MEA/TEA, Parabens, short alcohols, and sulfates are bad. Avoid them.

Thanks for reading, y’all.

Stay Shuai,



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