What Is the Main Ingredient in Shampoo That Causes Hair Loss?

WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Hair loss can be a frustrating and distressing experience for many people. While there are various factors that can contribute to hair loss, such as genetics, stress, and medical conditions, some individuals may be surprised to learn that certain ingredients found in shampoos can also play a role in hair thinning and shedding. If you've been noticing an increased amount of hair in your shower drain or on your brush, it's worth examining the ingredients in your shampoo.

What is the main ingredient in shampoo that causes hair loss?

The main ingredient in shampoo that is often linked to hair loss is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These are anionic surfactants commonly used in shampoos, soaps, and other personal care products for their cleansing and foaming properties.

How do SLS and SLES contribute to hair loss?

SLS and SLES are known to be harsh on the hair and scalp, potentially leading to irritation, dryness, and inflammation. Here are a few ways in which these ingredients can contribute to hair loss:

  1. Stripping the hair and scalp: These sulfates can strip away the natural oils (sebum) produced by the scalp, leading to a dry and irritated scalp environment. This can disrupt the hair growth cycle and cause hair follicles to become weakened and shed prematurely.
  2. Disrupting the hair cuticle: The harsh nature of SLS and SLES can cause the hair cuticle (the outermost layer of the hair strand) to become rough and raised, leading to breakage, tangling, and overall damage to the hair.
  3. Inflammation and allergic reactions: Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to these surfactants, which can trigger inflammation and irritation of the scalp. This can contribute to an unhealthy scalp environment and potentially accelerate hair loss.

Alternatives to SLS and SLES

If you're concerned about the potential effects of SLS and SLES on your hair and scalp, there are alternative shampoo options available:

  1. Sulfate-free shampoos: Look for shampoos that are labeled as "sulfate-free" or "SLS/SLES-free." These products often use milder surfactants, such as coconut-derived cleansers or amino acid-based surfactants, which are gentler on the hair and scalp.
  2. Natural or organic shampoos: Many natural and organic shampoo brands avoid the use of SLS and SLES, opting for plant-based and naturally-derived ingredients.
  3. Co-washing or conditioner-only washing: Some individuals choose to skip shampoo altogether and opt for a "co-washing" method, where they use only a conditioner or a cleansing conditioner to gently cleanse their hair and scalp.
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Additional Considerations

While SLS and SLES are often highlighted as potential contributors to hair loss, it's important to note that hair shedding can have multiple underlying causes. Genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, stress, nutrient deficiencies, and certain medical conditions can also play a significant role in hair loss.

If you're experiencing excessive hair shedding or thinning, it's recommended to consult with a dermatologist or a trichologist (a specialist in hair and scalp health) to determine the root cause and receive appropriate treatment or recommendations.

Healthy Hair Habits

In addition to choosing a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo, there are several other habits that can promote healthy hair growth and minimize shedding:

  1. Gentle handling: Avoid excessive brushing, pulling, or rough handling of your hair, as this can cause breakage and damage.
  2. Balanced diet: Ensure that your diet is rich in essential nutrients, such as protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals, which are crucial for healthy hair growth.
  3. Stress management: High levels of stress can disrupt the hair growth cycle and contribute to hair loss. Practice stress-reducing techniques like exercise, meditation, or yoga.
  4. Avoid heat styling: Excessive use of heat styling tools, such as blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons, can weaken and damage the hair, leading to breakage and shedding.


While SLS and SLES are common ingredients in shampoos and can potentially contribute to hair loss in some individuals, it's important to approach hair care holistically. By choosing gentle, sulfate-free shampoo options, maintaining a balanced diet, managing stress, and adopting healthy hair habits, you can create an environment that supports healthy hair growth and minimizes shedding.

If you continue to experience excessive hair loss or thinning despite these measures, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to identify and address any underlying medical conditions or specific hair concerns.

Why Consider Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Strength Shampoo?

Focus on Strength, Not Just Speed:

While the Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Strength Shampoo won't miraculously accelerate growth overnight, it addresses the root cause of slow growth: a weak scalp environment.

Gentle Yet Effective:

This shampoo is formulated with naturally-derived ingredients to cleanse without stripping your hair. It helps balance your scalp's sebum production for a healthy foundation for hair growth.

Stronger, More Vibrant Hair:

By creating an optimal scalp environment, this shampoo promotes stronger, healthier hair that's less prone to hair thinning. This can indirectly contribute to the appearance of faster growth, as there's less hair loss.

Target the Right Product:

This shampoo focuses on strengthening hair and creating a healthy scalp for hair growth. If your primary concern is hair loss, Scandinavian Biolabs also offers a Bio-Pilixin® Activation Serum specifically designed to address that.

Hair Strength Shampoo | For Men
Hair Strength Shampoo | For Men
Aims to cleanse gently while helping to reduce excess oil and balance scalp
Hair Strength Shampoo | For Women
Hair Strength Shampoo | For Women
Aims to cleanse gently while helping to reduce excess oil and balance scalp

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.