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5 Things to Know When Shopping for the Best Sensitive Skin Shampoo

For people with sensitive skin, a good, reliable hair regimen begins with finding the right shampoo for you. To help you find the right product, we’ve put together a list of five things to know when shopping for the best sensitive skin shampoo.

1. Know which common chemical irritants to avoid

When it comes to choosing hair care products for sensitive skin, it helps if you know what your skin can and cannot tolerate. In other words, if your skin tends to react to potential allergens, you know what your triggers are and can avoid those types of ingredients. Familiarize yourself with common chemical irritants and always read the label before you buy.

If you’re unsure what causes your skin to react, a dermatologist or allergist can help with patch testing.

In general, it’s best to avoid these ingredients, which can irritate sensitive skin:

  • Harsh surfactants and sulfates, such as cocamidopropyl betaine and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Formaldehyde releasers, such as DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium 15
  • Parabens, such as methylparaben and propylparaben
  • Certain preservatives, such as methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) and methylisothiazolinone (MIT/MI)

2. “Fragrance-free” is not always free of fragrance

Fragrances are the primary cause of skin allergies and we recommend avoiding them in your hair care. Don’t be fooled by false claims — a product may be labeled “unscented,” “fragrance-free” or “scent-free,” yet may still contain plant extracts or essential oils that may be irritating to those with fragrance allergies or sensitive skin. If you are uncertain about the ingredients listed on the label, the use of fragrance is easily determined by removing the cap and taking the sniff test.

3. Beware of “hypoallergenic” shampoo claims

Many shampoos claim to be “hypoallergenic”, but this term can be misleading. Hypoallergenic implies that a product causes fewer allergic reactions than other products — but because there are no U.S. government standards to regulate the use of the term, companies can label nearly anything hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, this may confuse consumers, who have to determine for themselves whether the product is safe to use.

4. Pay attention to a shampoo’s pH levels

When looking for shampoos for sensitive skin, check that a product has a balanced pH, or is non-alkaline, which is most compatible with skin and hair and the least drying.

5. Look for mild and gentle formulas

Generally, products that have simple formulas — without added chemical irritants — are best for reducing the chance of allergic reactions.

If you do your research before you buy and establish guidelines for yourself, your routine hair products (including shampoo, hair conditioner, hair spray, and hair gel) will help keep your hair and scalp healthy and happy.

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