My tresses cause me stresses!
January 2, 2008 10:11 AM   Subscribe

How can I determine which hair product ingredients I am sensitive/allergic to?

I am "allergic" to a LOT of hair care products. It manifests in the form of a very strong itch, most on the sides of my head above my ears, or on the back of my head.

There appears to be no rhyme or reason to the list of products that are "safe" or "unsafe" for me to use. Can you help me, HiveMind?

Unsafe (includes shampoo and conditioner combos):
Most Redken products - I used their shampoo for about 10 years and when I finally realized in high school that the shampoo may have been causing the itch, it was like getting a new scalp.
*Aveda Shampure
*Body Shop Honey moisturizing
*Burt's Bees Raspberry and Brazil Nut
Trader Joe's Refresh(?) (in the purple bottles)
Neutrogena Clarifying (in the past, this has not bothered, but I used it this morning and am a slightly itchy already)
*Kenra Color Care
Paul Mitchell baby shampoo/The Conditioner
Infusium Moisturologie

(almost definitely) Safe:
*Trader Joe's Nourish (white bottles)
Dove (dry/damaged and slightly dry versions)
..... Short list! I'd love to have a few more go-to products, but I don't know where to begin.

Other information: I shampoo/condition every day, don't color my hair, or use very many styling products. The styling products that I can use (again, mostly allergic) are Dove products and Aveda products, specifically Hang Straight, Smoothing fluid, and Defining Whip.

* = sulfate free
posted by to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It looks like you already know about SLS, which would be my first guess.

The Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Safety Database may help with the process of elimination.
posted by moonlet at 10:18 AM on January 2, 2008

Have you tried washing your hair less frequently? I know that doesn't directly answer your question, but introducing shampoo/conditioner to your scalp less often might relieve some of the irritation, and depending on your hair type, it might actually benefit your hair -- mine is coarse and wavy and dries out if I wash it daily.
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:44 AM on January 2, 2008

Interesting, I have a similar problem, only I get an actual rash in addition to the itch. I've been told by a dermatologist that it's an allergy to fragrance.

I've found two product lines to be almost 100% safe for me: Nioxin, and Icon Line. The latter is by far the best, but crazy hard to find. I've also used KMS shampoo and conditioner without problems, but most of their styling products give me a rash.

I've also recently been trying out Whole Foods' house brand shampoo and conditioner. So far, no reactions, but I think it's a little too drying for me.
posted by chez shoes at 11:09 AM on January 2, 2008

Response by poster: chez shoes, are the whole lines of Nioxin and Icon safe for you, styling products and all?

Now that you mention Nioxin, I do remember that I had a free sample of theirs years ago and, in the midst of me figuring out about this sensitivity, that tiny bottle was a life saver on bad days!

I may have to revisit that line! I will look for Icon as well, but Ulta and Trade Secret's websites don't have the brand listed, and I'm not sure where else to look (aside from the internet.... I still like to smell before I buy).

As for not washing as often, runningwithscissors, that also tends to make my scalp itch, and my hair starts to look quite dull and droopy.
posted by at 11:32 AM on January 2, 2008

This sounds strange, but try using vinegar instead of shampoo for most of your showers.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 12:49 PM on January 2, 2008

I still like to smell before I buy...

If it's an allergy to fragrance, you might be SOL. But I do sympathize with the desire to not have your shampoo smell like...regular poo.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 1:31 PM on January 2, 2008

Response by poster: Well, really I want to make sure they don't smell *bad*. I don't particularly care if they have no smell or a pleasant smell. But, f'rinstance, the Neutrogena clarifying shampoo that I used today definitely isn't something that I care to smell every day! I did not smell this one before purchase!
posted by at 1:37 PM on January 2, 2008

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