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Traveling during the holiday season means packing a dopp kit, which won’t fit many full-size products. Many of us buy what’s available in travel size, even if it means sacrificing quality. But beware: many drug store brands use harsh ingredients that can aggravate your skin and ruin your holiday trip. 

Although you won’t be in the comfort of your own bathroom, you can still avoid negative skin reactions. How do you know if something will negatively affect your skin? Check the back of your bottle for any of the harsh ingredients on this list. Or take the guesswork out of it and use clean ingredients instead— like those found in our products. (They’re available in TSA-approved sizes in our Travel Kit.)

Travel-Size Shampoo and Body Wash

4 Ingredients to Avoid in Shampoo & Conditioners

The beauty and grooming industries aren’t very regulated in the U.S. Often, brands will use cheap, questionable ingredients that have harmful or unclear effects on your skin and even your hormonal balance. We’ve gathered five of the most common perpetrators when it comes to hair care products. Here are the top ingredients to avoid in shampoo and conditioner:

1. Sulfates (SLS, SLES, and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate)

Sulfates are chemical compounds known as “surfactants.” Surfactants lower the surface tension between the ingredients in your products, which allow them to foam and cleanse. There are a few different types of Sulfates, the most common of which are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. They are found in many mainstream personal care products as well as household cleaners. 

Sulfates are known irritants, so they’re typically used in small concentrations. But even small doses can still cause reactions for some people. It’s best to avoid them altogether and opt for cleaner ingredients that serve as surfactants in shampoo formulas without the downsides of Sulfates.

2. Parabens

Parabens are chemical compounds that act as preservatives. They’re used in food and cosmetics to prevent the growth of mold and other harmful bacteria.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists one type of paraben commonly used in grooming products—called methylparaben—as a low to moderate health hazard. One study found that methylparaben “may have harmful effects on human skin when exposed to sunlight,” including increased cell death, oxidative stress and nitric oxide production. Luckily, there are less harmful ways to preserve products using preservatives such as Sodium Gluconate, which is made from corn and gives products like our Soothing Shave Cream a longer shelf life.

3. Diethanolamine (DEA)  & Triethanolamine (TEA)

Avoid products that use Diethanolamine, or DEA, a chemical found in grooming products, as it’s been shown to be carcinogenic. In fact, the state of California requires products that contain it to be clearly labeled. 

Also look out for Triethanolamine, or TEA, a surfactant that’s used in industrial and cosmetic products. It’s currently under review because it’s been shown to be carcinogenic, in particular to workers who handle it.

4.  Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycol, or PEG, is an ingredient that binds others together (otherwise known as a binding agent). It's been labeled safe for use but has come under scrutiny lately. It was shown to be harmful to mice when introduced in high doses. We use cleaner, gentler binding and thickening agents in our formulas to avoid potential harm.

Man reaching for shampoo in shower

Ingredients to Avoid in Body Wash

One of the most crucial products for travel is body wash, but the wrong kind can make your skin feel tight, red, and flaky. Always be sure to check the label before using -- like above, the ingredients on this list should be avoided altogether:

1. BPA

This chemical may sound familiar because of the attention it's received for being in plastic water bottles and metal cans. BPA leaches from these sources into water and food. Exposure to it over time disrupts your hormonal balance by mimicking estrogen and blocking testosterone. Some research suggests that human exposure to BPA comes from sources beyond plastic water bottles and cans, such as in other everyday packaging that contains substances we put in or on our bodies. Avoid it by using our BPA-free packaging. 

2. Triclosan

Triclosan is a chemical that used to be used in many antibacterial body wash and soaps but was banned by the FDA in 2016 for use in those same products. However, it has not been banned in other personal products like toothpaste, first aid products, cosmetics, and toys. Research has shown it could negatively affect the immune system and create antibiotic-resistant germs. We recommend avoiding it in all products.

3. Phthalates

Used as solvents in grooming products, Phthalates have been shown to damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and especially the male reproductive system. It’s also been linked to asthma, diabetes, breast cancer, obesity and other illnesses. You won’t find them in any of our products. 

The Solution: Stock Up on Clean Shampoo, Body Wash and More Before Your Trip

Now that you know what to avoid, stock up on clean, premium products from Oars + Alps to stay safe and clean on your holiday travels.

Shampoo and Body Wash without harsh chemicals


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