Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Shampoo Bad For You?



Short answer

For the most part, shampoo is not bad for you. However, excessive use of shampoo is not recommended, especially for those with certain hair types or allergies.



Long answer

Shampoo is a liquid that contains sodium laurel sulfates that strip hair of the sebum, or oils, in order to maintain clean and manageable hair. Most commercial shampoos mix sodium laurel sulfates with a water-soluble co-surfactant to assist in cleaning. There are many specialty shampoos available that include botanical extracts or plant derived products. There are also specialty shampoos for children and babies that are less harsh than regular shampoo, however, they still contain surfactants, including sodium laurel sulfate.

Sodium laurel sulfate can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. The greater the concentration of Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) the more irritation it can cause. Allergies to various ingredients in shampoo are common.

There are specialty shampoos that contain organic ingredients to minimize the allergic reaction or irritation caused by chemical ingredients. The “no poo” option, made out of general household items, is increasing in popularity due to its environmental friendliness.  

The people that oppose shampoo use baking soda and vinegar, diluted honey or nothing at all. Daily shampooing strips the oils produced by the scalp. The scalp then produces more oil at an increased rate, making hair greasy over time.  Many experts say that unless you have fine naturally oily hair or exercise daily—you should avoid washing your hair every day, for maximum hair health. Frequent washing does not pose a risk to the body, it can just make some hair types less vibrant.

Dry shampoo is also an alternative to regular daily shampooing. It can extend the time between shampoos. Dry shampoos soak up the excess oil in hair without needing to rinse out the hair after application. They come in aerosols, liquids, and powders that can be sprinkled on the roots of hair. The powder or liquid formations are higher in quality and do not contain the unpleasant fumes that aerosol products contain. You can also make your own dry shampoo using cornstarch and essential oils.  

Possible short-term side effects

  • scalp irritation / dryness
  • increased oil production
  • allergic reaction

Ingredients to be aware of

  • sodium laurel sulfate

Big is shampoo bad for you.


  • clean hair

Healthier alternatives

  • homemade shampoo
  • organic shampoos without sulfates

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Written by DeeAnne Oldham | 04-29-2016

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
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