The WORST Shampoos to Avoid & What to Buy Instead

Have you ever walked down the shampoo aisle and looked carefully at the ingredients in these products that you use on your body every day? If you think the ingredients in food are bad, the ingredients in many shampoos and conditioners are even worse.

They contain ingredients derived from petroleum and tar, and some are linked to disruption of your hormones and your endocrine system. Trust me; you don’t want these chemicals in or on your body.

I’d like to show you some of the bad ingredients you want to watch out for, and I’ll explain exactly why they're bad. More importantly, I’ll show you how to swap those products out with better for you, “Bobby Approved” non-toxic products.

What to Avoid:

Walking down the shampoo aisle of your typical drug store, you’re unlikely to see many “Bobby Approved” options. However, you will find many popular brands that contain ingredients you should avoid.

Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine is an example of what to avoid. Let’s take a close look at the ingredients to see why:

Sodium Laureth Sulfate, also known as SLS, is right near the top of the ingredients list. Sometimes it’s written as Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate, or SLES, but it’s the same thing. Now, there are other issues on this label, but you're going to find SLS in almost all shampoos, so I want to focus on that first. 

First off, SLS is a scrubbing agent. It’s actually the same scrubbing agent they put in toothpaste, where you should avoid it as well. It’s such a good scrubbing agent that it not only cleanses your hair, but it strips your hair and scalp of a lot of the natural oils and moisture they contain. It can make your hair brittle and cause scalp irritation.

Anytime you see SLS or SLES in a shampoo, it’s too abrasive; put it back.

This is a product I think I used to use back in the day. It looks like it's a premium shampoo and it's really hard to see the ingredients, but let’s take a closer look:

This shampoo doesn't contain SLS, so that’s good, but it contains several other bad news ingredients. You’ll notice that all these chemicals are called PEGs, such as PEG-7 and PEG-150. PEGs are almost always based on petroleum;  petroleum is toxic. 

At the bottom, you can see artificial colors (such as Violet 2 and Red 40). Artificial colors are almost always derived from tar and petroleum.

You don't want that on your skin, so this product is another NO.

Maybe the most egregious offender is something I used to use back in the day for dandruff and dry scalp: Head & Shoulders Classic. Let’s take a peek at the ingredients on the back:

Once again, we see artificial colors like Blue 1 and Red 33 - you want to avoid those. Then notice the two giant words before that: methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone. 

I can't quite pronounce those words out loud, but I can tell you that they are neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors. They affect the hormones, especially for the ladies, and they are directly linked to fertility issues as well. Avoid any products containing these ingredients.

“If you think the ingredients in food are bad, the ingredients in many shampoos and conditioners are even worse.”

What to Buy Instead:

For shampoo and conditioner, my favorite brand is Acure. It's readily available; it's not that expensive, and I recently noticed it was on sale at Thrive Market for a great price.

When I do have a dry scalp, I don't reach for the Head & Shoulders anymore. Instead, I use something called Avalon Organics. It's not perfect, but it's very clean compared to the alternative. 

What’s most important is that you stay away from the harsh and dangerous ingredients hidden in many popular brands.