Are you allergic to your shampoo? Contact dermatitis signs & symptoms.

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Itchy, dry, red scalp. It’s embarrassing, painful and frustrating. And that’s just the way it looks. Having a scalp which is suffering these symptoms is also incredibly itchy, painful and can even sting and burn.

Is any shampoo safe?

Will any scalp treatment work?

Are you making your scalp worse by using anti-dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis or anti-psoriasis shampoos?

Fact: the signs of contact allergy or irritant reaction to shampooing products can look and present exactly like dandruff and psoriasis.   You read that right, a badly chosen dandruff shampoo can actually exasperate your condition.

It’s easy to waft this away.

I’ve been using the same shampoo for months/years with no issue – it definitely cannot be my shampoo.

Or…

I used this shampoo a few days ago – it didn’t cause me a reaction straight away so it definitely cannot be my shampoo.

Fact: allergic contact dermatitis is not immediate. It can also take months and years of exposure to build.

This is why shampoo allergy can be enormously hard to pinpoint.

If you’re beginning to see that your scalp symptoms could be more than just dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis – keep reading. We spoke to Matthew Zirwas, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Bexley Dermatology, and 15 year expert in working with common, but difficult to treat, dermatologic diseases and problems.  And we spoke to Ruth Holroyd, founder of the award-winning blog What Allergy to find out more.

During the course of this article you’re going to learn;

  • What is an allergy and how do shampoo allergies develop?
  • What is the difference between an allergy and an irritation? – helpful if you’ve previously had a patch test
  • What shampoo ingredients cause allergies?
  • What is usually the first sign of contact dermatitis?

We start at the beginning…

What is contact dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is an allergy which is developed because of continual exposure to a potentially allergenic ingredient. Your skin, scalp and immune system have what is called a sensitization threshold. Meaning your body can handle allergenic ingredients at a pre-determined amount. This is not the same for everyone.

Allergens are ingredients like fabric dye and fragrances which;

Scientists can use what a molecule looks like to understand if it has the potential to cause allergic contact dermatitis. This is called the structure-activity relationship (SAR). New and existing ingredients can then become a predicated sensitizer, possible sensitizer, predicted non-sensitiser or not predictable due to confusing/insufficient data.

Note; Recently published studies have demonstrated that in vitro assays i.e. an experiment which is not conducted on live animals but instead in a test tube has shown a strong correlation with original testing which was completed on animals. However that SAR approaches did not. The future of allergen prediction is in vitro.

The first symptoms of skin allergy usually include;

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Vesicles – can look like blisters/papules/hives
  • Contact eczema

The important question is – how do you tell if you’re allergic to your shampoo or if it’s a less life-changing irritancy reaction?

What’s the difference between irritant vs allergic contact dermatitis

When an ingredient irritates your skin you can easily mistake irritant contact dermatitis for allergic contact dermatitis.

The major difference between both conditions is the area of effect.

Irritant contact dermatitis – the most common kind – usually impacts only the area it’s applied to.  For example, your skin may tingle or sting after the use of a shampoo, but only exactly where the shampoo has been used.

Allergic contact dermatitis, on the other hand, can cause the body to react over a greater area than that which was exposed to the allergen.  As Dr. Zirwas explains, “the most common areas affected off of the scalp when people have allergy are the eyelids, in front of the ears, the jawline, and the neck.”

“The most common thing I diagnose in my eczema center is eyelid, neck or facial dermatitis being caused by allergy to an ingredient in shampoo.  In many of these patients, they don’t even get a rash on their scalp.  In dandruff/seb derm patients they usually assume it is their dandruff or seb derm spreading.”

Irritant contact dermatitis is not a primary reaction of your immune function to a foreign invader. Irritants instead break down your skin’s natural barrier which therefore now becomes ‘leaky’. When skin is leaky it becomes dehydrated, easily irritated and reddened. Due to the leaky nature of skin suffering from irritant contact dermatitis – stinging and burning sensations are common. Leaky skin also reacts indiscriminately – you may find whatever you put on your skin – it tingles, stings or burns.

In contrast to allergic contact dermatitis, having irritant contact dermatitis does not mean you need to avoid all potentially irritating ingredients forever more. It does not mean that when you are exposed to even a small amount – your skin will react in the extreme. This is the definition of sensitization, not irritant contact dermatitis.

In the case of irritant contact dermatitis, once the skin is healed and your skin barrier is restored, you may go on to use products with potentially irritating ingredients without reaction.

In the case of allergic contact dermatitis once the skin is healed you are extremely likely to always and forever more be allergic. This means exposing yourself to the smallest amounts of the ingredient you have developed an allergy to will always cause your skin to react. This typically happens within hours of exposure.

In appearance, allergic contact dermatitis can often cause swellings and raised areas of skin which ultimately cause blistering. Overuse of irritating personal care products – like shampoo – rarely results in blistering. Irritation is also usually fairly quick, whereas allergic contact dermatitis – after allergy has developed occurs hours post exposure. Allergic contact dermatitis symptoms are also likely to be much more severe.

How do you know if your scalp has a shampoo allergy?

There is 1 primary way in which a doctor or dermatologist can officially diagnose you with a contact allergy to ingredients found in shampoo. This is by patch testing. Small amounts of known allergens are placed onto 1cm patches which are then placed onto your skin.

Note; Dermatologists advise allergic reactions can take up to 2 weeks to develop with patch testing.

You can understand what to expect during a patch test by reading this 4-page leaflet from the British Association of Dermatologists.

Note; studies show of patients with eczema who are suspected of having a contact allergy to fragrance only 10.3% show positive results. This can be explained, in part, to be because the fragrances used in patch testing does not include all contact allergens – only those which most commonly cause a reaction. Therefore a negative patch test does not mean you do not have an allergy. However, a negative patch test could also mean you are suffering from irritant contact dermatitis.

What shampoo ingredients can cause allergy?

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety has identified 85 fragrance ingredients which are established contact allergens in humans.  The problem is, manufacturers are not legally obliged to disclose the ingredients in their fragrances.  Here’s why – the FDA requires the list of ingredients under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA).  This law is not allowed to be used to force a company to tell “trade secrets.”

This is a real problem.  As Ruth Holroyd explains, “the growth in allergies has seen a big rise in free from foods but what about the skincare products you use? It is just as important to understand what you use on your skin when you have allergies, eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis.”.

Things are a little brighter over in Europe.  At the time of writing, the EU has mandated that 26 identified allergens must be declared on an ingredients label. Many of these are ingredients naturally found in fragrance or essential oils.  Most essential oils and fragrance mixes contain only small quantities of allergens – therefore these will be listed on the bottom of the ingredients list.

The 26 EU declarable allergens are known as;

  • Amyl cinnamal
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Cinnamyl alcohol
  • Citral
  • Eugenol
  • Hydroxy-citronellal
  • Isoeugenol
  • Amylcin-namyl alcohol
  • Benzyl salicylate
  • Cinnamal
  • Coumarin
  • Geraniol
  • Hydroxy-methylpentylcyclohexenecarboxaldehyd
  • Anisyl alcohol
  • Benzyl cinnamate
  • Farnesol
  • 2-(4-tert-Butylbenzyl) propionald-hyd
  • Linalool
  • Benzyl benzoate
  • Citronellol
  • Hexyl cinnam-aldehyde
  • Limonene
  • Methyl heptin carbonate
  • 3-Methyl-4-(2,6,6-tri-methyl-2-cyclohexen-1-yl)-3-buten-2-one
  • Oak moss and treemoss extract
  • Treemoss extract

Take for example allergen #19 – benzyl benzoate – this ingredient is a natural component of Peru Balsam and essential oils of Jasmin and ylang-ylang. In the EU, you do not have to remember that these ingredients also contain benzyl benzoate – because by law they must be separately written on the ingredients list.

Unfortunately, there’s still an additional 59 allergens declared by Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety that aren’t currently labeled either side of the Atlantic.  The easiest way to protect your sensitive scalp from allergic contact dermatitis is by choosing a fragrance and essential oil free shampoo.

Note; Some preservatives and a handful of other ingredients used in shampoo products are more recently suspected allergens, these include;

But this is still only scratching the surface.  The Contact Dermatitis Institute has put together a fantastic searchable database of ingredients known to cause allergic contact dermatitis.  If any of them are present in a shampoo, we’ll warn you.

What shampoo ingredients can cause irritation?

The most common type of shampoo ingredient known to cause irritation is the ingredient making up the base and activity of all shampoos – cleansing agents aka surfactants. These ingredients can denature skin proteins and therefore break down your skin barrier.

Whether surfactants are or are not irritating to your skin doesn’t only depend on whether the formula contains them – but also the amount it uses and the overall pH and formula of the product.

These are however the most irritating surfactants as per published study data;

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Myreth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauroamphoacetate

These ingredients are often some of the first on the ingredients list on a bottle of shampoo.  The most commonly found are at the top of this list.

Remember how irritant contact dermatitis is different from allergic contact dermatitis?

Once your skin barrier is healed you may be able to use these ingredients in small quantities with no reaction.

What should you do now?

If you suspect you have allergic contact dermatitis check your scalp care products for all of the ingredients listed in this article including the word perfume or fragrance – if you see any of these – switch your shampoo today.

If you’ve had a patch test resulting in negative allergy results – we still advise you to do this – a combination of an irritant plus allergen can increase its penetration and potential biological effect.

Keep reading our reviews too.  We warn of over 100 ingredients that have caused irritant or allergic reactions in people.

And luckily for you, we have developed a unique tool whereby you can search for any shampoo we’ve reviewed, and omit any ingredients listed above.

It’s been a game changer for many of our readers.

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First Class MChem in Chemistry

A master of chemistry, a product formulation expert and a regular reviewer on this site. Megan wishes to remain partially anonymous so she can be candid about her employer's and competitor products.

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The site owner. I founded, and have ran this site for too many years now.
I have extremely sensitive skin, have suffered from seb derm for all my adult life and this site is my way of doing something about it.

Check out my sister site at safehouseholdcleaning.com

50 thoughts on “Are you allergic to your shampoo? Contact dermatitis signs & symptoms.”

  1. So I have been suffering with this since I was a child I am now 58. No one can seem to help me, and if I stood in the aisle of a store looking for one shampoo without any of these chemicals in it, I would have to move in and make myself at home. It’s looking like it could take the rest of life to find a shampoo that won’t cause contact dermatitis.
    Have you found any shampoos that are free of all this crap, any at all?

    Scratching my head in frustration.
    Sincerely,
    Virginia

    Reply
    • Hi Virginia?

      We’re all allergic to different things. Some people are seemingly allergic to nothing at all – none of these chemicals will affect them. Some of these chemicals only affect tiny percentages of the population. If there is a shampoo which brings some form of allergic reaction, I would cross check the chemicals with the known allergens to see if there are any in there.

      To find the gentlest shampoo possible, have you tried our search tool? You can search for shampoos that don’t contain particular chemicals that are designed to combat particular forms of dandruff.

      If a shampoo works for you and has no reaction then stick with it. If it is irritating you or causing allergic reactions then I would check what contact allergens it contains, use our search tool to find other shampoos designed to combat that form of dandruff that don’t contain those allergens.

      Does that make sense?

      Reply
      • Doesnt help me. I dont know what in alergic to but i have tried every shampoo out there on the market. I itch so bad bit i dont have dandrift. I have bumps and painful pinples and lumps fron these. I get swelling. Its awful and i dont have any skin condition either. The shampoos that i have less issues with is baby shampoo, infusium 23, and t-gel. Ita awful! Im tempted to use dirt to scrub my hair put with and soak up oils thwn rense! Im desperate!

        Reply
        • Hi Blair

          That doesn’t sound like contact dermatitis but its impossible to tell from a description. I would highly recommend getting that checked out by a professional. It may be so simple for them to diagnose.

          Reply
        • I think it does sound like contact dermatitis. I’ve had this condition for 10 years. After years of research, I found “Nurture My Body” Shampoo. It has an excellent rating from EWG.org “Skin Deep” assessment. It’s available on Amazon Prime. It’s expensive but worth it. Use the EWG.org Skin Deep Search: I don’t use anything on my scalp, hair, or skin that receives higher than a “1” rating from EWG. Watch out for preservatives and fragrances: You might be intolerant of them.

          Reply
        • try Living Libations, they have a beautiful range. they are based in canada, postage to me was a bit high, i am in australia, but man i love the shampoo and conditioner. They sell it in travel sizes too, so you can test it out which is brilliant. Hope it helps you 🙂

          Reply
        • try face or body cleansers, might have better luck with some of those but it’s still so difficult. you could even use bar soap. i know i miss the thrill of buying any shampoo i want to try and there’s a lot of attractive products i cannot use now that i’ve had sebborheic dermatitis. i am going to try nonfat kefir soon, it is supposed to remove the flakes

          Reply
        • I had similar issues with almost all shampoo. I’ve had the best reaction to one from Davines called Naturaltech Purifying Shampoo.

          Reply
        • Hi Blair, I am in the same situation as you, I have tried every shampoo out there and have even tried so called “chemical free” shampoos but all seem to cause the same reaction which looks like little red pimples on my chest, back and scalp that were extremely itchy. I went to the doctor with this issue and was told I suffer from “acne” and that it would eventually go away with age which I knew myself was wrong. I decided to change shampoo, conditioner and shower gel and chose to try out the moogoo range which worked miracles for me!!!! they all cleared up within about two weeks of changing the products and stayed away until I ran out of the moogoo products one day and used normal shampoo which brought it all back straight away. now I only use the moogoo products which are a bit expensive compared to other products on the market but they are definitely worth the extra money. I would definitely recommend you try these moogoo products 🙂 hopefully they work for you too or other readers.

          Reply
          • interesting and amazing timing – I’ve just bought their facewash and love it!

            I’ll definitely be checking them out!

      • Please any recommendations for the simplest haircare line for those with seborrheic dermatitis and allergies to balsam of peru?

        Thank you kindly,

        Melinda

        Reply
    • I knew I was allergic to something as I was getting sores and eczema on my head, eczema on my face especially around my eyes and lips and massive spots on my chin, I thought it was diet originally, then after 10 years of trying to cut out parabens, go organic, not eat sugar, gluten blah blah blah I realised my head and facial eczema was possibly in my shampoo/conditioner but was stumped with where to start until I went on holiday where I had a coconut sorbet and came out in rashes, hives, a severe instant reaction. I then googled coconut in shampoo and omg, coconut derivatives are in EVERYTHING! God help me, I now use Moroccan Method shampoos which are hard work to begin with (follow the instructions to detox and I promise it works) and I avoid all coconut food products. I now also know I’m also intolerant to Palm Oil so by avoiding them both as best I can (the coconut derivative list is endless so I’m going by trial and error) my daily life has drastically improved, might be worth a try?

      Reply
  2. Know I am allergic to a chemical called colophony.

    Unless you have a degree in Pharmacology.. (and I havent!!)…I have no idea of what the comercial names of this item.

    I do know that is in some sticking plasters…mascara…some perfumes, brake linings, rosin (for dance shoes and violin bow strings…) and shiny paper.
    Any advice, please??

    Reply
  3. Hi Janet, I have just looked it up in my cosmetics bible of ingredients and it’s some kind of pine resin. Also says Rosin. Most commonly used in mascara I believe. Rosin can be found in soap, hair spray, wax depilatories and ointments too. Doesn’t say it is used in shampoo but you never know.

    Reply
  4. Don’t forget the hidden dangers of herbs and roots and other natural ingredients in products. There are many, many known irritants lurking under the banner of “natural products” and I wish I knew what all of them were. One I apparently overlooked was burdock root and perhaps rosemary. An allergic response to rosemary extract might be more uncommon, but burdock root is a known irritant which can cause allergic contact dermatitis. I am just recovering from a horrible reaction to Desert Essence Coconut shampoo which I’ve used for years. It contains virtually none of the irritants listed above, but it DOES contain burdock root and rosemary. Over the last year I’ve wondered why my skin was getting so pimply, and finally a full blown itchy and red rash appeared with dry, scaly skin on top of it. After doing a bit of research, and considering the obvious “run off” pattern where the rash appeared to be trickling downward from my scalp, I eliminated it, and a week later the rash is dramatically cleared. After all those months of wondering and suffering! So I urge everyone not to let companies fool you into thinking natural ALWAYS means safe or better.

    Reply
  5. I am currently working on a formula for a daily, mild shampoo without known allergens or irritants that makes your hair look good (not an easy task). I am prone to contact dermatitis (as are my offspring). I will be looking for people who can try and and provide feedback once I’ve refined it. If you\’re interested in being a “test subject”, please email me.

    Reply
    • I’ll be a test subject! Please. I was told, by my doctors (yes, that was plural… I have a few doctors) to make my own everything. That’s shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc and to just forget about any kind of makeup. I’m all of 38 years old. I feel 99 years old. I noticed that my eyelashes fell out after I used mascara while still in my early teens. Eventually I developed a rash all over my body and my hair was falling out. I thought it might be stress, but I found out it was allergic contact dermatitis. (Lovely. ) My family is unsupportive and tell me it’s in my head. My kids are too young to understand why mommy is trying to make soap. My husband tries to help out but he’s not too helpful. I did find it helpful to use the Purewash system with my washing machine. So, my clothes come clean without detergent. It’s not perfect but it helps.
      I’ll try whatever you want me to or need me to. Just let me know..
      Thank you.

      Reply
    • Hello Debbie selligman…I would most Definitely be interested in being a product tester if needed..!! I would love to find an alternative to my shampoo frustrations as well..and if ur product could work, I’d love to sample it..!! thank u so much, and best of luck..!

      Reply
    • Hi there – unfortunately I don’t know too much about garner fructis as I haven’t looked at it at all yet. Looking at the ingredients its not sulfate free and it is pretty perfume heavy so if you react to perfumes I’d be careful. It does contain one or two other ingredients that can cause contact dermatitis. Remember though, these ingredients won’t irritate the majority of people. So if it works for you then great!

      Reply
  6. I just had a patch test with my dermatologist to see what causing a rash. It turns out I do have an allergy to some of the things on this list. I go for my final reading today. I will get a list of what I am allergic too as well as a list of products that do not contain the things that caused me to have a rash. For those of you who have contact dermatitis, I would recommend a patch test. It is somewhat inconvenient, but it will take out the guess work of what is causing your rash.

    Reply
    • Excellent point! While they aren’t perfect they can be of real help. I had a patch test myself and my allergy list was as long as my arm. That’s one of the reasons why this page and site exists!

      Reply
  7. Hi I am allergic to isothiazolinone , methylcloroisothiazolinone , and any of the derivatives of this product, and the shampoo and conditioner that I have found that is safe to use is by Redkin, All soft shampoo and conditioner. I also spent hours looking at labels in the stores to find one free of this ingredient, and I found it at Ulta Hair Stores, Hope this is helpful for you also…

    Reply
    • That’s great to hear Cindy!

      You can actually search for shampoos that don’t contain MI/MIT on this very site to save you going through all the labels yourself

      Just browse to the search page and click to avoid shampoos containing Kathon CG (a trade name for MI/MIT).

      Best of luck!!

      Chris

      Reply
  8. Thanks for all of the information. I’ve been suffering with itchy scalp, lumps, painful acne-like pimples and pimples that follow with a white heavy crust, that last for weeks, for the last four months. I’ve tried the process of elimination technique to determine the allergen, and finally figured out that I’m highly allergic to argon oil, Moroccan Oil, coconut oil and anything that even suggests any kind of oil, and that’s just for starters. Every shampoo I’ve tried except for Dial soap has begun to cause the same reaction. Johnson’s baby shampoo with chamomile and lavender drove me crazy. What happens to a baby? Then, there are the silks. I’m going to try T-Gel. I have very curly hair. Hs anyone discovered a straightening baum or spray that won’t cause problems, or a protective when you use a flat iron? For dandruff Vanseb or Nizoral are the least offensive and well tolerated. .

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading Alexandra and thanks for the heads up about Vanseb – I’ve never tried it and its now on the list for review!

      Reply
  9. In regards to Cocamidopropyl Betaine & your statement “It’s extremely tough to find a shampoo without it at the moment.” When I first went organic & didn’t know as much as I should have known at the time, I switched to the *Certified Organic* brand ‘Live Clean’….ALL of their products in Canada contain this ingredient!! Severely disappointing from the organic perspective :-/ This article is THE best I’ve come across in listing the harmful ingredients that are out there & I thank you for publishing it for all to see!! Especially for those of us who are just beginning to open their eyes to the corruption of the cosmetic & personal product world. It’s all in the ingredients & we need to learn to read, read, read if we want to take back control of our health.
    A WORLD of thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you Faye!

      I get why shampoos need cleansing agents but I’m at an absolute loss why the manufacturers persist with the sulfates and betaines when they know some people will suffer a reaction. Well I can guess. Cost.

      Only a change in consumer habits will force a change in priority from the manufacturers. They’ve had it too easy too long.

      Hopefully we’re starting to see the seeds of change now.

      Reply
  10. So my question is – which shampoo to use then???
    Because I am at a loss!!
    I started using all natural shampoos about two months ago and educating myself on the ingredients and also have come to realize that many “bad” ingredients are hidden under a different description and it is almost impossible to go through the whole list and make sure everything is “natural” and there are no irritating ingredients. My scalp is itching like crazy lately, one of my “natural” shampoos must have something in it that irritates my scalp. I have never had any scalp issues before. My hair is also dry and sticky and very hard to brush and I am noticing increased hair loss.
    So which shampoo’s are really the all natural and good ones?

    Reply
    • Unfortunately natural doesn’t mean much at all, other than theoretically where the ingredient came from. Bear in mind that uranium is a natural ingredient.

      The bad news is that you’re going to have to go through some trial and error to find out what ingredient(s) you are personally prone to react to. We’re all different. The vast majority of people will react to very few of these ingredients listed.

      Take a look at our search tool and you can search for shampoos that don’t contain specific ingredients. The “good” news is that your natural shampoo is causing some irritation. Look at the ingredients in that shampoo, and see if a shampoo exists that contains none of those allergens.

      It’s trial and error at this stage, but you will get there my friend.

      Best of luck.

      Reply
  11. Thank you for this article, I have been using OGX under the assumption that, like their advertising, they are sulfate free. I did research into their ingredients after I started having a bad reaction to their conditioner that was worse than what I usually have. Found Isopropyl Alcohol in their conditioners and a previous conditioner I was using didn’t and when I switched back it started lessening. I read into their ingredients on their shampoo and found all of this: Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Coco/Isostearamide, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Dimethicone, Amodimethicone, Glycol Stearate, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cetrimonium Chloride, Glycerin, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-6, Polyquaternium-10, Laureth-4, Laureth-23, Trideceth-12, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate. After looking through this I see about half of them are irritants! No wonder I haven’t been able to get this to go away completely. I think I’ll go back to Chagrin Valley, as long as I stay away from Bergamot, I’m fine with most fragrances and they’re certified organic.

    Reply
  12. Purchased Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive shampoo and conditioner. Terrible rash on my neck and ear, scalp itching. After reading through the ingredient list, I found most of those above, plus salicylic acid. This is in many acne medicines, and I found when I was a teenager, it caused an itchy, peeling rash on my face that was worse than a few pimples. I’m thinking that it was this ingredient that caused a reaction.

    Reply
  13. Hii this was so interesting, thank you. I’ve never been allergic to anything before, and I’ve never been loyal to a particular shampoo for long. I’m now 50, and colouring my grey hair blonde; My hairdresser recommended I use a shampoo for coloured hair so my blonde doesn’t go green. Within 2 hours of washing my hair with Loreal Colour Radiance, my hands are covered in stinging blisters. Luckily, switching back to my old shampoo (currently SYOSS) stops the blisters straightaway. I’m now trying to see which ingredient it is by comparing labels, but there are lots of ingredients with similar names…

    Reply
  14. I tried everything! Then discovered Maple Holistics Tea Tree Shampoo. It’s a miracle. Then one day I tried a different shampoo and the bumps came back immediately

    Reply
  15. Thank you Chris for all the work you put into this website!

    My hairstylist used Davines Nou Nou shampoo and hair mask. I broke out in a rash under my breasts. I printed out their ingredients and compared it to your list. There are a number of ingredients that could have triggered this reaction. I have more recently become sensitive to synthetic fragrances, so I am not surprised.

    Reply
  16. Use baking soda dissolved in water. After rinsing it out, follow with apple cider vinegar mixed in water (softens and detangles naturally). Rinse well. I stopped using shampoo and conditioner three years ago.

    Reply
  17. Hi, this is a really great and informative blog. I’m now wondering about coconut oil however. You mention Cocamidopropyl Betaine, and I’m not sure if coconut oil is bad, or just this chemical that is formed from it due to a process, and therefore is this chemical not present in virgin/unprocessed coconut oil? Would you be able to explain this further? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi there, Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a synthetic cleaning agent, not present in coconut il at all. However, they do use some of the fatty acids present in coconut to synthesize the surfactant.

      Reply
  18. Hi,

    My cheeks get itchy, red, oily, and kinda tough feeling if I wear my hair down. I tried Free and Clear and thought it was working until recently when I started to wear my hair down again. It can get extremely itchy. Does this indicate an allergen or just irritation to my skin barrier? I want to assume it’s irritation, but would itching not indicate an allergen? BTW thank you, this is one of the most informative articles I’ve found so far.

    Reply
  19. Hi, Megan and Chris. I heard that there was a breakthrough recently in contact dermatitis research and that they’ve made progress in figuring out how the body’s immune system causes the dermatitis response. Is this true? I understand that truly eliminating these types of allergies isn’t going to happen overnight, but do you have any insights on this?

    Reply
    • This sounds interesting Holly! Let me check up on this – do you have any links so I know the research you’re referring to?

      Reply

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