What Is Hypoallergenic Shampoo?

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  • Written By: K. K. Lowen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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Many shampoos contain ingredients that may cause allergic reactions for some people, and hypoallergenic shampoo manufacturers strive to remove the most common harmful ingredients from their products. Some hypoallergenic shampoos are simply fragrance-free and have no added color, as these are two common culprits of allergic reactions. Other agents that could cause allergies may include herbs, botanicals, some foaming agents, and parabens used as preservatives in hair and skin care products. It is essential to check the labels carefully because some hypoallergenic shampoos avoid all irritants, while others may remove only the fragrance and color.

To prevent possible skin issues for people who have sensitive skin, hypoallergenic shampoo often contains no added color. Regular shampoo manufacturers may use either natural or chemical dyes to make their cleansers more attractive. Artificial colors sometimes cause rashes, hives, or other unpleasant skin reactions. Natural dyes made from herbs and botanicals also may cause problems because of properties that cause drying or irritation.

Hypoallergenic shampoo generally does not contain added synthetic fragrances. Manufacturers sometimes include fragrance in their products to cover chemical smells. There are many types of synthetic fragrances contained in shampoos, but they may be easy to avoid by carefully reading labels, keeping in mind that fragrances generally appear at the bottom of ingredient lists. Additionally, artificial fragrances commonly utilize alcohol, which can cause skin dryness and irritation.


In addition to a lack of chemical fragrances, hypoallergenic shampoos generally avoid unnecessary herbs and botanicals that could cause skin irritation. For example, some people are allergic to cinnamon, cloves, and different types of mint, which sometimes are used as fragrances in shampoo. Oxidized linalool, found naturally in mint and lavender, is one of the most common fragrance ingredients that causes skin problems. Additionally, herbal and botanical ingredients often require harsh preservatives to increase their shelf lives, and these preservatives can cause skin irritation.

A hypoallergenic shampoo almost always has no added fragrance or color, but preservatives could cause problems as well. Parabens and mercury-based preservatives can cause allergic reactions for people with sensitive skin. Despite the allergic reactions caused by preservatives, they still may be included in a hypoallergenic shampoo to prolong the product’s shelf life. For people with extreme allergies, it is important to check the ingredient labels carefully.

Preservatives are not the only additive that could cause irritation yet still finds its way into hypoallergenic shampoos. Sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the most commonly used agents that causes skin irritation. The substance is used in many shampoos because it allows the products to foam when rubbed, and although the agent has been reported to cause cancer and damage endocrine systems, it is still a common ingredient in shampoo and may be found in some hypoallergenic shampoos.


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Post 4

What type of shampoo should I use? Pantene? Sunsilk?

Post 3

@ZipLine-- You're probably allergic to the fragrance in your shampoo. I'm allergic to most fragrances and I have to use hypoallergenic shampoo as well. Otherwise, I break out in an itchy rash on my scalp and face.

Post 2

@ZipLine-- My hypoallergenic shampoo says "dye, fragrance and paraben free" on the label. It also says "formulated for very sensitive skin."

If you find a shampoo like that, it's probably hypoallergenic. You may also want to check out shampoos in the baby section. Many baby shampoos are hypoallergenic. If you can't find an adult hypoallergenic shampoo at that particular store, I'm sure you can find one formulated for babies. It will work.

There are more options for hypoallergenic shampoo online but I don't think you have enough time to do online shopping right now. You may also want to check out the shampoo section of health food stores and organic stores. Natural doesn't mean hypoallergenic, but there are more fragrance and paraben free shampoos at organic stores. Good luck!

Post 1

I think that I need hypoallergenic shampoo. I've been experiencing severe scalp itching for the past few days. My neck is also itchy. I think I'm having an allergic reaction to my shampoo. I rinsed my hair and scalp with only water today. I'm going to go to the store tomorrow for a hypoallergenic shampoo.

Will the shampoo I'm looking for say "hypoallergenic" on the label? Or should I look out for a shampoo that says "fragrance and paraben free?" I'm kind of confused about this.

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