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Look at the Label: Head and Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo

Posted Jan 25 2012 1:01am

Post image for Look at the Label: Head and Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo

Continuing our look at the top-selling products on…

Even though they are technically Over the Counter (OTC) drugs and not cosmetics, dandruff shampoos are big sellers in the beauty section of Specifically, two versions of Head & Shoulders dominate the 6th and 7th top selling spots. Who would have thought that SO MANY people have dandruff!! What can we learn by looking at the label?

Active Ingredients: Pyrithione Zinc (1%)
This is one of the most common drug ingredients approved to treat dandruff.


Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Primary surfactants.  Excellent foaming/cleansing agents although some people find them too drying.

Cocamide MEA
An old-school foam booster.

Zinc Carbonate
Added to help stabilize the preservatives in the formula. (The anti-dandruff active can deactivate preservatives leaving the product vulnerable to microbial contamination.)

Glycol Distearate
Opacifying agent. Forms little crystals that make the product look creamy.

Conditioning agent.

Smells like the sea.

Cetyl Alcohol
Helps provide the creamy look and texture.

Magnesium Sulfate, Magnesium Carbonate Hydroxide
Most likely part of the preservative boosting system.

Sodium Benzoate

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
Secondary surfactant.

Benzyl Alcohol
Supposedly reduces eye sting.

Sodium Chloride
Salt for thickening.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

Sodium Xylenesulfonate
Additional surfactant that’s probably carried in with one of the other ingredients. Sometimes this is added as a coupling agent to help clarify formulations but this product is opacified so it wouldn’t matter.

Thickening/viscosity control polymer.

Sea Salt, Fucus Vesiculosus (Bladderwrack), Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract
Marine extracts that don’t do anything except make the formula look more “Ocean Lift-y.”

Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Yellow 5
Colorants, presumably providing a sea-shade.

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If you have an itchy, flakey scalp and you want to support the Beauty Brains, this is your lucky day! Just click the link below to buy Head & Shoulders and you’ll really be helping us out. Thanks!

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