Can Certain Shampoos Cause Hair Loss?

Shampoos are typically marketed and advertised as being good for your hair. Manufacturers promote their particular brand as being formulated to reduce dandruff, eliminate tangles, or promote a thick, luxurious head of hair. Still, many shampoos contain ingredients that may irritate the scalp and damage hair, and some additives can contribute to or cause hair loss.

What Is Shampoo?

One of the biggest challenges in choosing the right shampoo is the number of options available. A trip down the shampoo aisle at your local store reveals hundreds of brands, each with several specialized products claiming to give you the perfect bouncy, curly, wavy, or shiny tresses that you desire. But can these products cause hair loss?

Shampoo is a detergent designed for the primary purpose of removing dirt and oil from your scalp and hair. All shampoos are primarily water with a cleanser, and a conditioner added. Manufacturers then add specialized ingredients designed for specific hair types and additives such as color, fragrances, thickening agents, and preservatives. Some of these additives serve a particular purpose, such as adding volume or treating dry, oily, or chemically treated hair. In contrast, ingredients such as fragrance and color are added solely to make the consumers experience more enjoyable.

Common Shampoo Ingredients and Their Effect on Hair

All shampoos are essentially a cleanser. While many brands add other ingredients that make your hair easier to manage or smell and feel nicer, only a few ingredients impact the formula's overall effectiveness, and some can contribute to thinning hair and hair loss.

Surfactants and Foaming Agents

Surfactants and foaming agents are the ingredients in shampoo that do most of the work. Surfactants reduce the surface tension of water and enable the formula to clean your hair by surrounding dirt and oil particles, so they can be rinsed away with water. They help your shampoo to make the thick bubbles and lather you want when you wash.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) are the two most common surfactants used in shampoos, and both are potential irritants even at low concentrations. Research on the effects of sulfates has found that they have the potential to damage hair follicles and lead to hair loss.

Foaming agents are secondary surfactants that help improve lather stability and viscosity building but have nothing to do with the shampoo's effectiveness. Common foaming agents are cocamide or Cocamidopropyl betaine, which are derived from coconut oil. Like other surfactants, foaming agents, even natural ones, are irritants and known to cause skin irritation, allergies, rosacea, and eczema in some people, conditions that can all contribute to hair loss.

Sodium Chloride and Ammonia Chloride

Shampoos typically contain a thickening agent such as sodium chloride or ammonia chloride to improve viscosity and cosmetic appeal. While neither of these additives is toxic, they are irritants that will dry out your hair and skin and may cause the itchy feeling you sometimes experience after washing your hair.


Any shampoo stored on the shelf needs a preservative added to maintain the stability of the product. While preservatives are necessary to stop bacteria's growth, chemicals such as formaldehyde can cause cell damage and harm the hair follicles.

Conditioners and Other Additives

Shampoos also contain a variety of ingredients to help condition the hair. Polymers such as dimethicone deposit a lightweight coating on the hair that helps create smoothness and add shine. Fatty alcohols and nut oils are common additives used to moisturize and lock in hydration. While these ingredients may help you achieve the look you desire, they may also cause a buildup, which can clog hair follicles and lead to hair loss.

Contact Mane Image Hair Replacement Center

While washing your hair and scalp is vital to maintaining a full head of healthy hair, many of the main ingredients in shampoos can also lead to thinning hair and hair loss in men and women. With the many shampoo options available today, it can be challenging knowing which one is right for your hair and which one can be potentially harmful.

If you are beginning to notice signs of thinning hair and hair loss, it may be due to the hair products you are using. At Mane Image, we are experts in all aspects of hair and scalp care. Our highly knowledgeable staff will examine your hair and scalp, and provide you with solutions that can help you with your hair loss. To learn more about what could be causing your hair to thin, contact us today and schedule your FREE initial consultation.