Decoding the tiny text on your hair care labels

You’re on your way home from the departmental store, feeling smug about your new hair care and reveling in the revived hopes of finally doing that dramatic hair flip with your transformed voluminous hair. After all, it’s ‘Tea Tree’ season, all the great brands have a tea tree range, and you’ve now got yourself a gigantic tea tree shampoo to show for it, feeling like you’re a step closer to your hair goals, right?

Sadly, wrong. Very very wrong.

In the midst of all the hype about tea trees and its listed benefits, you almost forgot to ask yourself, is this miraculous & exotic ingredient suitable for my hair type, scalp type, hair goals, & hair fall levels? And also, if you did asked yourself that (impressive), did you also ask the other important questions like what is the actual amount of tea tree in that bottle, and is it in a potent enough state for your hair to reap the benefits? Or is it surrounded by amplified amounts of harmful chemicals that discredit all its worth?

We know. It’s overwhelming, and unless you’re a chemistry major, it’s hard to decode what’s written in those tiny labels and come to a conclusive solution.

I had a similar experience as well. As it turns out, my hero ingredient (apple cider in this one case), was only about 4% of my shampoo, but splashed across the label like it had all the apple cider of the world inside it. Unveiling the remaining 96% of what was mentioned in that label, with my metaphorical magnifying glass and lab goggles, was scary to come to terms with, and changed my consumer behavior forever. It made me think about how my hair care was actually working in reverse, and why my parlor lady was always so disappointed in my hair. My grandmother’s long locks were looking thicker and healthier than mine, making me reflect on all my bathroom products that heaped up to a good chunk of money gone down the drain.

Below is the list of ingredients found commonly in hair care, which you should strictly avoid.

The Hair Care Devils


Found in 90% self care beauty products. It is a surfactant that causes foaming. Sulfates like SLS which are converted into SLES, a less harsher version, have a common contaminant of 1,4 dioxane, which converts it into a carcinogen. Some sulfates to look out for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (It’s so evil, there are actually 2 of them) (SLES), Sodium Laureth-8 Sulfate, Lauryl Ether Sulfate, Sodium Myreth Sulfate, SLS, SLES, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate


Parabens are commonly found in most personal care products, including your shampoo and conditioner to prolong shelf life. There are several types of parabens. You can identify them by looking out for anything that ends with ‘parben’ like butylparaben, ethylparaben and methylparaben. It is known to cause skin irritation, reproductive issues and neurotoxicity

Used to prevent bacterial contamination, very commonly used in wet products to increase shelf life.
It is known to cause skin irritation and is suspected to be a possible carcinogenic

A probable human carcinogen found in most hair care products. It can cause toxicity and asthma if inhaled

A cluster of harmful chemicals used in 100s to increase the flexibility and softness of harmful plastics. You can identify them as ‘dimethyl phthalate’ on labels. They are often found in hair spray and artificial fragrances and are known to damage liver, kidneys and reproductive systems.
It might not make it to the ingredients list often, but if your hair care bottle does not mention that it is using natural (preferably IFRA certified) fragrances, and has a strong pleasant fragrance, be mindful of its presence.

Petroleum Derived Products

Petroleum derived products lead to product build up on the scalp, which leads to wearing down of strands by leftover product residue making your hair look lifeless and dull. Some of these derivatives are petroleum, mineral oil and paraffin

Animal Derived Ingredients
The biotin, keratin, silk powder, beeswax, lanolin, and gelatine found in many shampoos and conditioners may all be derived from animals. These ingredients can also be derived from plants, but unless your product specifically makes that claim, know that it is animal derived.
Apart from the obvious distress they cause to the animals, these ingredients can leave anyone with sensitive skin or hair in a frenzy of rashes, itchiness and marks.

The icons you should look out for and favour:

  1. Freshly Formulated after you order/ Made in small batches
  2. Vegan & PETA certified
  3. Following demandin standards of clean beauty
  4. Made using botanical ingredients

We, at Bare Anatomy, are proud to be following all of them, and even more with our highly researched and customized formulas and adherence to strict European Standards of clean beauty.

Once you're aware of the overused and harmful chemical ingredients, you can start your quest for hair care that is not harming your hair and ironically working against you. However, for it to work for your particular hair profile and be effective is still another long story, and one that we’ve researched all about. You can read more on our blogs to uncover them, or visit our website and take the hair quiz to understand what it is that your hair needs (apart from the detox from all harmful chemicals) specifically, based on your hair and scalp type, age and location, top 3 hair goals, hair fall levels and other details.

Want to get a clean & custom formulation?

Take the Hair Quiz

& our scientists will analyze your detailed hair profile


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