Prophylactic self-isolation for shampoo’s formula investigation. Day 23rd.

Navigation in shampoo’s oceans. Transparent conception and tips. PART 1

Once I spoke with a friend of mine, and she said she uses only baby cosmetics for herself, like baby face cream, baby hand cream, baby shampoo… She said there are less hazardous, risky chemicals in children’s formulas. That sounded reasonable to me!

When my shampoo was finished, I went to a pharmacy to choose a baby shampoo for myself:) As a chemist, and a reader of labels for 10 years continuous practice, I immediately turned a chosen bottle to the ingredient list.

To my surprise, the ingredient list of children’s shampoo was not so good! I looked at the other company’s bottles – they were the same!

A few days ago, I asked my friends to send me photos of the ingredient list of their children’s shampoo they use at home. As we STAY HOME, it is time to l’earn something about this mysterious chemistry:))

We are not going to have a deep conversation on the chemical structure of the ingredients of shampoo, also, that is not SLS topic* and which most responsible mothers have already investigated. * SLS is Sodium lauryl sulphate, a chemical that is commonly used in shampoos, soaps, shower gels and toothpaste as a cleansing and foaming agent. However,

I will try to share some basic information and tips to navigate the option of shampoo options:)

Navigating in an ocean of shampoo or How to choose better options:

In general, look at the ingredient list

  • In general, look at the ingredient list: the shorter it is, the better (except formulas that have plant-based ingredients making more than 50% of all composition). Examples from received shampoo formulas:
Length of ingredient list in shampoo formulas

Look for natural, plant-based ingredients

  • look for natural, plant-based ingredients

Some “natural” shampoos have long list of plant-based ingredients and theoretically should be “natural”, but look further to differentiate: a) plant names and b) other natural ingredients or c) chemically-derived components.

Plant names and raw material, found in shampoo formulas:

Calendula officinalis flower extract
Triticum vulgare (Wheat) germ extract
Vaccinium mirtyllus extract
Rubus idaeus extract
Actinidia chinensis fruit juice
Citrus aurantium dulcis juice
Citrus paradisi juice
Pyrus malus juice
Prunus amygdalus dulcis seed extract
Chamomilla recutita (matricaria) extract
Persea gratissima (avocado) fruit extract
Sweet almond oil
Irish moss
Nori seaweed
Lemon oil
Mimosa absolute
Orange flower absolute
Jasmine absolute
Castor oil
Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour
Avena sativa (oat) kernel extract
Plant names and raw materials found in shampoo formulas

Other natural ingredients could be: sea salt, amber extract, honey, limonene.

Formulas where plant-based ingredients make more than 50% of all composition could be considered as plant-based. Examples from received shampoo formulas:

Examples of non plant-based shampoo formulas

Something about Chamomile:

This could come as a surprise for some of us, but natural, plant-based materials could cause allergic reactions. One of the most common plant-allergen is Chamomile flower. According to European Medicines Agency, hypersensitivity reactions including severe allergic reaction (dyspnoea, Quincke’s disease, vascular collapse, anaphylactic shock) following mucosal contact with liquid chamomile preparations have been reported. The frequency is not known (1).

Something about Limonene:

Originally, limonene is a common component of essential oils and therefore could be found in many plants. In shampoo formulas, limonene is known as one of the allergens, because synthetic, cheap, not natural limonene is used.

Limonene could be considered as natural only if it is clearly written after ingredient list that “limonene, which naturally occurs in essential oil” or something like this. If “limonene” is without any additional information provided, most likely, something like 99.9% it will be synthetic. Examples from received shampoo formulas:

Identify the most risky ingredients just before purchasing

One of the most undesirable component in shampoo formulas is Propylene Glycol.

Propylene Glycol in shampoo formula

Propylene glycol is estimated to be one-third as intoxicating as ethanol, with administration of large volumes being associated with adverse effects most commonly on the central nervous system, especially in neonates and children. It is also related to ototoxicity (deafness) and seizures in children (2). Be aware not to use on damaged, dry (with dandruff) or irritated skin. But of course, would recommend to avoid it as for children, as well for adults.

Because the topic is really huge, we start from the very basics, and will continue going ahead in further posts. Stay tuned and subscribe to this blog to get notifications about every new post (these days it is coming every day:))


  1. European Union herbal monograph on Matricaria recutita L., flos EMA/HMPC/55843/2011
  2. Handbook-of-Pharmaceutical-Excipients 6th Edition by Rowe, R.C., Sheskey, P. and Quinn, M., 2009

P.S. Great thanks to a special friend, who devoted her time to this blog post, and improved my English grammar:)

Photos by Dr. A. Palatronis on Lady looking at the computer monitor – Photo by Pexels

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