Imagine this. You’re shopping at your local store one day. You get halfway down the shampoo aisle when a particular product catches your eye. As you grab the bottle and prepare to toss it into your cart, you notice something strange. On the label, the words ‘Causes Cancer’ are written in small red text.

How would you react?

You wouldn’t be happy, I imagine. But what if I told you that most commercial shampoos actually do contain such a warning – only more obvious? All you’ve gotta do is take that shampoo bottle, turn it around and take a look at the ingredients.

More on that in a second.

First, to hit home just how widespread the issue is, let’s take a look at the Center for Environmental Health’s most recent list of cancer-causing commercial shampoos. You might want to get comfortable – the list is… well, you’ll see.


“Consumers need to know that they could be doused with a cancer-causing chemical every time they shower or shampoo,” said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health.

And what is this cancer-causing chemical? Well, commercial cosmetic manufacturers actually have quite a few to choose from. Let’s explore a handful. Not a literal handful, though, because y’know – the whole cancer thing.

#1 – Cocamide DEA

It's what makes shampoo foamy.

It’s what makes shampoo foamy.

We reported on cocamide DEA in great detail in this article. Right now, we’ll go over the basics. Cocamide DEA is based on coconut oil. But don’t let that fool you – that natural association doesn’t last long. You see, before the ingredient is added to shampoo, it’s heavily tinkered with until it becomes a foaming agent.

In lab tests, cocamide DEA was found to cause serious skin, liver and thyroid damage. This led the state of California to list cocamide DEA as a known carcinogen.

All shampoo containing the compound must contain a warning label before being sold in that state. But, surprise, none of the cocamide DEA-containing shampoos tested by the Center for Environmental Health contain said warning label.

#2 – Parabens

Here’s another toxic ingredient we’ve written about extensively. Parabens can be found in 90% of all shampoos. You know what else they can be found in? 100% of breast cancer patients.

Parabens easily penetrate your skin. Once inside your body, they disrupt hormones due to their estrogen-mimicking tendencies.

#3 – Dimethicone

Dimethicone can also be found in many skin creams.

Dimethicone can also be found in many skin creams.

Dimethicone is one of the ingredients that make shampoo easily spreadable. Too bad it does the same thing for cancer. The European Union lists dimethicone as an endocrine disruptor. In other words, it interferes with hormone function and causes tumors.

Other Cancer Causing Ingredients

Those are just three of literally dozens of toxic, cancer-causing chemicals commonly found in shampoos and other cosmetic products. The list also includes:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Triclosan
  • Polysorbates
  • Polyethylene Glycol
  • Potassium Sorbate
  • Quaternium-15
  • Retinyl Palmitate

I highly suggest you take a look at our other posts on the topic of toxic cosmetics to learn more. Here’s one. Here’s another.

What To Use Instead

Luckily, there are a number of certified non-toxic shampoos out there. These include:

Here’s another proposition for you – why not make your own shampoo?

You’ll need:

Combine all the ingredients in a jar. Shake or stir well to mix. That’s it! Keep this in your shower for up to a month. Make sure you shake well before each use.

Were you surprised to learn just how dangerous commercial shampoo can be? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Wellness Mama
The Daily Mail
Center for Environmental Health