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Common Shampoo Ingredients and Facts

Have you ever wanted to know how to read the shampoo ingredients to see what exactly you’re using to cleanse your hair? This simple guide will lay out the most common ingredients that you’ll find in shampoos.

Common Surfactants (Detergents)

  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • Ammonium laureth sulfate
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Cocoamphodiacetate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl sarcosinate

Gentle Surfactants

This list of surfactants are gentle but don’t cleanse well.

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Cocamphocarboxyglycinate-propionate
  • Sodium lauraminodipropionate
  • Disodium monococamido sulfosuccinate
  • Disodium cocamphodipropionate
  • Disodium capryloamhodiacetate
  • Cocoyl sarcosine
  • Sodium lauryl sarcosinate

Harsh Surfactants

The following list could cause an irritated scalp or be drying to hair.

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • TEA-lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate
  • TEA-dodecylbenzene

Lather Builders

  • Cocamide MEA
  • Lauramide MEA
  • Lauric DEA
  • Lauramine oxide
  • Cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine
  • Polysorbate 20

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats)

These detangling compounds create a smooth surface to hair and help to manage it better. Also found in conditioners and leave-in sprays.

  • Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride
  • Dicetyldimonium chloride
  • Dihydrogenated tallow benzylmonium chloride
  • Behentrimonium chloride
  • Behenalkonium betaine
  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Quaternium 18
  • Stearalkonium chloride
  • Cetrimonium chloride

Humectants and Water-Binding Agents

Humectants provide the following benefits: hydration, elimination of static cling, softer feel, thicker feel, protection from dryness, managing porosity. This list is the most common humectants found in shampoos.

  • Glycerin
  • Sorbitol
  • Glycols
  • Mucopolysaccharides
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Sodium PCA
  • Propylene glycol
  • Glycosphingolipids

Conditioning Agents

These agents are also found in conditioners and add benefits such asshiny, soft, silky hair that’s a lot easier to comb. They temporarily protect the hair until the next shampoo.

  • Collagen
  • Protein
  • Amino acids
  • Silicone
  • Panthenol
  • Triglycerides


The appearance of shampoos are affected by thickeners. These include:

  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Hydrogenated lanolin
  • Glycolstearate
  • Palmitic acid


Preservatives are included to help keep away bacteria growth from occurring. The following is a list of common preservatives:

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Methyllisothiazolinone
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Imidazolidinyl urea

Irritable Ingredients

These ingredients that may be irritating or drying to the scalp.

  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Menthol
  • Peppermint
  • Lime
  • Balm mint
  • Oregano
  • Essential oils
  • Avocado
  • Horseradish
  • Papaya

Most of these shampoo ingredients may also be found in conditioners, leave-in conditioners, and many styling products. Now when you see a shampoo ingredient and you’re curious about it, have a look at this list and hopefully it will help you understand the reason for it.

Shampoo Facts You Should Know

Do you know all the shampoo facts you need to know? Most of you use shampoo on daily to weekly basis. Find out some interesting facts about shampoo below.

Despite what you may think or have been told, many natural ingredients can be irritating to scalp:

  • Lemon
  • Menthol
  • Peppermint
  • Mint
  • Essentials papaya
  • Other plant extracts

Fragrance does not indicate the quality of a shampoo.

Shampoos have some type of conditioning agent typically varied based on the type of shampoo:

  • Silicones
  • Protein
  • Elastin
  • Collagen
  • Amino acids
  • Oils

Many shampoos on the market claiming to cater to various types of hair and problems really all contain the same or similar ingredients. Some conditioning agents can build up on hair and lead to a weighed down appearance. You should avoid shampoo products with sodium laryl sulfate. It is very drying to the scalp and hair.

Surfactants – which help hair clean – do not lather. Lather agents do.

Lather can indicate how clean your hair getting. If your hair is not lathering, it means you still have a lot of product interfering with the lathering. (This is typically why you may not lather the 1st wash but will on the second one.

Shampoos also contain humectants which help the hair hold on to moisture. Humectants give hair a soft, smooth feel.

Conditioning agents make hair a little easier to comb as well as providing softness and silkiness. Remember to always use a conditioner if your hair is dry or damaged since conditioning agents in shampoos can be rinse away. Conditioning agents can temporarily protect hair.

Plant extracts in shampoos do not benefit hair as much as you might think.

These shampoo facts are not meant to be all inclusive but I hope you have read something you may not have known before. I will be adding more in the future.