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The Importance of Product Labels

Knowing how to read product labels can save you tons of money, time, and damage to your hair. The cause of most people's hair trouble is, labels. Yes, all those big words can be confusing, misleading, and outright intimidating! I always hated looking at those hard to pronounce words on labels, until I became a cosmetologist. Then I understood how important it was to at least know the order of ingredients. Knowing that can help you figure out a product, somewhat. It all comes down to familiarizing yourself with a few ingredients too.

How to Read Product Labels

Ingredient labels are created to inform the public of chemicals that may cause an allergy or that may be toxic. Toxic ingredients are chemicals that seep into the pores, then into the bloodstream, and more than likely cause an ailment. For this reason, the FDA has mandated that all products have a clear written label that is not misleading or confusing. The ingredients must be in order from the greatest to the least. This way you will know which chemicals are in large amounts to those that are the least.

The first ingredient in shampoos and any liquid product is Water or Aqua. This means that water is the greatest ingredient. After that comes the surfactants (cleansers). Most shampoos have Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as the second ingredient, after water, because it is the first and strongest cleanser in the product based on percentage. Luxuriance shampoos do not include sulfates. Our cleansers are natural. Most companies use more than one surfactant for reasons of balancing the cleansing, foam, conditioning, emulsion, and anti static abilities. Secondary surfactants are co-surfactants and will not be as strong as the first surfactants. These secondary surfactants boost foam in most cases or add conditioning properties.


Next comes the emollients or oils and extracts added to soften, condition, and add slip to the hair. The emollients are important, just as the surfactants, because once the surfactants cleanse all the naturals oils from the hair, you need to add oil back into the hair strands. Without emollients, your hair will be dry and brittle. 


After the emollients, you have other ingredients like, fragrance, citric acid, and preservatives. These ingredients are always at the bottom of the list because they are the least in percentage.


Here is a list of ingredients you will find on many shampoo labels. These surfactants are widely used in the cosmetic industry because they create foam, emulsions, and more. Some are hazardous due to their toxicity level. You can find out if an ingredient is toxic by visiting United States Environmental Protection Agency's website.


Sodium Laureth Sulfate, also known as Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES)

Sodium Myreth Sulfate 

dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS)

sodium lauroyl sarcosinate


Polyoxyethylene glycol octylphenol 

Cocamide MEA, DEA, MIPA

Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA or PFO)

Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC)

Benzethonium chloride (BZT)

Cocamidopropyl betaine


Every product that contains liquid must have a thickening agent so that it will not be watery. A broad spectrum preservative is also needed to prevent mold, yeast, and bacteria from growing in the product. Water breeds bacteria and for this reason, a preservative is needed that is broad enough to prevent mold, yeast, and bacteria. A broad spectrum preservative is needed to also prevent contamination by the consumer. Consumers like to sometimes stretch products by adding water from the sink, without knowing that water from the sink has contaminants in it that will destroy the product. A broad spectrum preservative will keep the product good, even if a consumer adds water. Some broad spectrum preservatives can extend the shelf life up to 24 months. 


Over the years evidence has been put forth to demonstrate that some thickeners and preservatives are toxic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has put out information stating that toxic cosmetic ingredients may cause cancer. A lot of thickeners and preservatives have been tested and found to be toxic. However, evidence suggest that just because an ingredient is toxic does not mean that a person will get cancer. They may get a minor irritation instead. We list a few here for you and some are non-toxic. 

A few cosmetic thickeners are: Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Behenyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose (HEC), Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, 


This list of ingredients also create foam, emulsions, conditions, anti static, and more. This list has been separated from the above for reasons that they perform the same functions and are non-toxic or non-hazardous. Here are a few ingredients you should look for in your shampoo if you do not wish to use products that are toxic.


Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (Not to be confused with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)

Cocamidopropylamine Oxide

Coco Glucoside

Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate



Now that you have the information needed to somewhat understand ingredient lists, hopefully, you can choose the right products for your hair.

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