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Dangerous Chemicals in Conditioners

written by: Laura Jean Karr•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 2/10/2010

There are known toxins that can affect human health luring inside your hair conditioner. Learn more about the four major chemicals in commercial products here. In two articles we look at dangerous chemicals in shampoos and conditioners.

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    Common Toxic Chemicals in Commercial Conditioners

    In addition to the toxins that are added to commercial shampoos, there is also a whole host of toxins that are added to commercial conditioners as well. Here, we are going to take a look at the four main toxins found in conditioner products and what they do to the body. For information on toxins in shampoos, read Chemicals in Shampoo.

    • Formaldehyde: On packaging labels, this chemical is also known by Diazolidinyl urea, 3-diol Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium-15, Nitorpropane-1, Formalin, Methanal, Methyl aldehyde, Methylene oxide. Manufacturer's use formaldehyde as a germicide and preservative in commercial conditioners. Human reactions to this chemical family include dermatitis, headaches, skin allergies, sinus infections, joint pain, fatigue, chest pain, dizziness and the breakdown of the immune system. The United States governmental agencies and business reports state that there is not enough evidence to stop the consumer use of the formaldehyde chemical family but the European Union has begun to ban the chemical family for consumer use.
    • Sodium Laureth Sulphate: Known chemical carcinogen, this substance has been linked to kidney damage, liver damaged, dermatitis, eczema and it can disrupt the human nervous system making it a neuro-toxin as well. Manufacturer's add this chemical because it is a cheap way to give their product a frothy texture. Currently, this chemical substance is in the process of being banned for consumer usage in Europe and parts of Central America. United States reports state that the chemical is fine for human usage.
    • Phthalates: This is a known carcinogen that has been linked to causing birth defects, damaging the human reproductive systems, lowering sperm count in males and contributing to lung, kidney and liver cancer. Used by manufacturers as a way to have their products retain a "soft" feel to them. This chemical compound has only been banned for consumer usage in Europe, while it is still considered safe to use in the United States.
    • Parabens: Also known as types of methyls, propyls, butyls and ethyls. This substance is used a germicide and a preservative to give your conditioner a longer shelf-life. The toxicity of this chemical can remain in the body and is classified as a hormone disruptor, what that means is that once a parabens enters your body it stops human hormones from acting the way that they should. This substance also mimics the human estrogen hormone and has been linked to breast cancer and other reproductive cancers for both males and females. Currently parabens are banned in Japan, Sweden and is under review in the European Union. The United States says that parabens are fine but certain manufactures are stopping its use on their own.

    The toxins named above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bad chemicals being introduce to the human body through conditioners. Start reading your product labels and look into switching your hair care product use over to organic products. See Organic Hair Care: Make it at Home if you would like to learn how to start making your products at home and begin controlling what chemicals come in contact with your hair and scalp.