I'll begin with a list of the ingredients of Johnson's Baby Shampoo:
Water, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium
Trideceth Sulfate, Glycerin, Lauroamphoglycinate, PEG-150 Distearate,
Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-10,
Tetrasodium EDTA, Quaternium-15, Citric Acid, D&C Yellow #10, D&C
Johnson's Baby Products: Johnson's Baby Shampoo
While it is true that the product does not contain soap or alcohol, it
does contain ingredients that are capable of cleaning the hair and
scalp. Below is a description of the chemicals in this product, and
Water: Most cosmetics and liquid shampoos contain water as the #1
ingredient. If they did not, the product would be so thick and goopy
that it would be difficult to get out of the bottle, and would be very
unpleasant to apply.
PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate: This is a detergent-like chemical that
functions as a surfactant. Basically that means that it serves as a
"wetting agent" to help reduce surface tension in the water and
promote smooth spreading of the shampoo. This is a gentler surfactant
than the chemical that is used in many shampoos, sodium lauryl
sulfate. Surfactants help to remove grease and cleanse the hair. Some
are mild, some are harsh; Johnson's Baby Shampoo has several of the
milder surfactants in its ingredients.
"Nonionics such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) esters can play a number
of roles in a shampoo system. For example, PEG-80 sorbitan laurate
promotes mild cleansing..."
Chemical and Engineering News: What's That Stuff?
"Chemical/CTFA Name: PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate
Applications: Reduces irritancy of baby shampoos and children's bath
Oilchem, Inc: Nonionic Surfactant
Cocamidopropyl Betaine: Another surfactant, or wetting agent. It helps
to stabilize the foam in the shampoo.
"Used in shampoos, bubble baths and liquid handsoaps. Provides good
foaming and foam liquid stabilization with excellent wetting
Chemistry Store: Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Sodium Trideceth Sulfate: Yet another surfactant.
"Sodium Trideceth Sulfate
- A mild cleansing agent
- Conditioning properties"
Royal Heirs (cached page)
More about surfactants in general:
"Instead of using soap, skin can be just as effectively cleaned by
using surfactants. A "surfactant" is a surface-active agent that is
used to reduce the surface tension of water allowing it to spread out
and help cleanse an area of skin. In addition, as a wetting agent,
mild surfactants also remove contaminants from the skin without the
damaging effects of soap."
Internet Grocer: Quick Bath
Glycerine: Glycerine is a humectant, or moisturizer.
"Glycerine is produced naturally as a by-product of the saponification
process. Glycerine is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture, even
out ot the air. That is why it is added to skin lotions, and
Shawnee Farms: Information Page
"Glycerine is a natural humectant derived from vegetable fatty acids
that draws vital moisture to the skin."
Scented Boutique: FAQ
Lauroamphoglycinate: An "amphoteric" surfactant.
"We use ingredients that are called amphoterics as our main active
ingredients, they are non striping, gentle and yet thoroughly cleanse
the hair and as I just mentioned, the particular ones we use are more
expensive to manufacture with than lauryl sulfates. The first
ingredient other than water should be an ingredient like
Jazma Hair, Inc: Dear Asha
"The key property of amphoteric surfactants is that they generally are
very compatible with aqueous ions and resistant to both acids and
alkalis. Because of this they are often used for foaming, wetting and
emulsification in personal care products."
Dongnam Chemical, Ltd: Amphoteric Surfactants
PEG-150 Distearate: A surfactant that serves as a thickener and
"Thickener (PEG 150 Distearate) - This non-ionic surfactant is an
excellent emulsifier. Works well in shampoos and body wash."
The Herbarie: Emulsifiers and Thickeners
"PEG-150 Distearate - Coconut Oil derived thickening agent for
Minaloa: Product Info
Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate: Another emulsifying surfactant.
"Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate - Coconut oil derived cleansing agent,
Minaloa: Product Info
Fragrance: This product is very lightly scented, compared to most
shampoos, but fragrances are a common cause of skin irritation in
Polyquaternium-10: A conditioning, moisturizing, and antistatic agent.
"Polyquaternium 10, Polyquaternium 7: Helps add volume and
conditioning. Acts as a moisturizing film that protects. Excellent
Duurstede: New Products
Tetrasodium EDTA: A chelating agent that helps promote cleaning in
"Chelating agent and stabilizer used to prevent physical or chemical
changes in texture and appearance of product. Used in detergents
because it bonds hard water ions and prevents them from interfering
with their cleaning action."
Candle Supply: Bath Ingredient Dictionary
Quaternium-15: This is a preservative that helps prevent the growth of
bacteria and fungus in the shampoo. Some people are allergic to this
"Quaternium-15 is a preservative found in many cosmetics. It is a
water soluble anti-microbal agent that has proven active against
bacteria, but less active against yeasts."
Beauty Magazine Online: Sensitising Cosmetic Ingredients
Citric Acid: Adjusts the pH of the shampoo to help smoothe the hair. A
slightly acid pH is desirable so that the hair will be sleek and shiny
"Citric Acid... has a two fold reason for addition. Shampoos usually
are at pH 5.5 because at slightly acidic pH the scales on a hair
follicle lay flat making the hair feel smooth and look shiny. Citric
acid is used to adjust the pH down to 5.5 (ish). It is a fairly weak
acid which makes the adjustment easier. it also has a small amount of
preservative action. Citric acid as opposed to any other acid will
prevent bacterial growth."
Finishing: Why Is Citric Acid in Shampoo and Conditioner?
D&C Yellow #10 and D&C Orange #4: These are coloring agents that give
the shampoo its golden color. Both have been approved by the U.S. Food
& Drug Administration under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
D&C Yellow #10 is also known as "Quinoline Yellow, and Orange #4 is
also known as Orange II.
Thomas Register: Alfa Chem Product List
As you can see, Johnson's Baby Shampoo is not exactly a simple,
natural product for someone who wants to avoid the use of chemicals.
An earlier formulation of this product is discussed in a highly
critical way on this page (note that some of the chemicals listed have
now been taken out of Johnson's Baby Shampoo):
Lady Violet: Horror Products!
If you are interested in a mild shampoo whose ingredients are basic
and trustworthy, you can make your own! Here you will find a recipe:
Care2: Basic Herbal Shampoo and Hair Conditioner - Formulas
Links to more shampoo and hair tonic recipes, including some for
About Beauty: Hair Care Recipes
Regarding your question about whether Johnson's Baby Shampoo can cause
hair loss, or help with hair loss, there seem to be many viewpoints on
this. I've found websites to validate both positions. Most of the
sites that say baby shampoo is harmful are sites that are selling
their own anti-hair-loss shampoos. No shampoo can prevent balding, but
keeping your hair and scalp clean (without over-drying) can keep you
from losing hair at a faster rate. Most of the sites I have visited
say that you should not shampoo more than once a day.
"Eating a balanced, healthy diet is important for a lot of reasons,
and it really benefits your hair. Also, treat your hair well. For
example, some doctors recommend using baby shampoo, shampooing no more
than once a day, and lathering gently."
Kids Health: Hair Loss
Here are some useful links which will help you to evaluate some of the
chemicals that are listed on the labels of hair care products:
All About Hair: Ingredients in Better Hair Care Products
Exploratorium: Better Hair Through Chemistry
Black Hair Super Grow Out Forum: What's in a Shampoo/Conditioner
Hans: What's Really in Your Health & Beauty Products?
These newsgroup discussions on the subject of hair loss may be of
interest to you:
Newsgroup posts, alt.baldspot
Newsgroup posts, alt.baldspot
My Google search strategy in compiling this information utilized these
johnson's baby shampoo
sodium trideceth sulfate
sodium laureth-13 carboxylate
I hope this helps. If anything I've said is unclear or incomplete, or
if any of the links do not function, please request clarification, and
I'll gladly offer further assistance.
Clarification of Answer by
06 Jan 2003 12:39 PST
The ingredients of Johnson's Baby Shampoo Moisturizing Formula do
differ slightly from the ingredients of the regular Johnson's Baby
Shampoo. Here's the ingredients list of the Moisturizing Formula:
Water, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium
Trideceth Sulfate, Glycerin, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, PEG-150
Distearate, Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Tetrasodium EDTA,
Fragrance, Polyquaternium-10, Citric Acid, Honey, Tocopheryl Acetate
(Vitamin E Acetate), Quaternium-15, D&C Brown No.1 and FD&C Yellow No.
Johnson's Baby Products: Johnson's Baby Shampoo Moisturizing Formula
This product is very similar to the original Johnson's Baby Shampoo.
Instead of Lauroamphoglycinate, the Moisturizing Formula contains
Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate. Honey and Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)
are present in the Moisturizing Formula. The coloring agents are
The substitution of Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate for
Lauroamphoglycinate may help the hair to retain moisture; Disodium
Lauroamphodiacetate is a derivative of coconut oil. Like
Lauroamphoglycinate, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate is a mild amphoteric
surfactant. This type of cleansing agent is less harsh to the skin and
hair than a cationic surfactant would be. Cationic surfactants (which
are used in some shampoos) are similar to the kinds of detergents that
are often used in household cleaning products and dishwashing liquids.
Honey has been used in skin and hair care for many centuries. Honey
also has anti-irritant and anti-bacterial properties. Here is a quote
"Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture.
This makes honey a natural fit in a variety of moisturizing products
including cleaners, creams, shampoos and conditioners. Honey also acts
as an anti-irritant, making it suitable for sensitive skin and baby
Honey.com: Honey is a Sweet Treat for Skin
Vitamin E may play a role in the prevention of hair loss, according to
"VITAMIN E - Tocopherol Key to hair health, nail growth and supple
skin by supplying oxygen to the body and improving circulation. Helps
combat dandruff. May aid in preventing hair loss."
Jenny Lynch: Beauty Secrets
"...a potent anti-oxidant that neutralizes free radicals from common
environmental sources such as ultraviolet light, fluorescent lights,
impure water and air pollution that directly impact the skin. Topical
vitamin E also accelerates healing and restores moisture."
Jason Natural Cosmetics: New Products
Here are some quotes from sites that recommend the use of baby shampoo
for thinning hair:
"Choose formulas for frequent use that are gentle and light and don't
require extra rinsing à la Johnson's Baby Shampoo or Clinique Hair
Care Gentle Wash."
Wendy Lewis & Company: The Deep
"To make you more confident with your thinning hair I suggest you try
using Aveda Phomollient, it is a liquid which comes out like a foam,
and Aveda Volumizing Tonic which is a spray. Neither of these products
is sticky or heavy and if you put them in towel-dried hair and blow
dry with your head upside down you will see a great improvement in
volume, especially if you have fine, straight hair like mine. Also,
Baby Shampoo works really well - who would have known? Also, these
products don't dry hair out, which I suspect may also be a problem for
many of you."
Hair Site: Anti Depressants and Hair Loss
It should be kept in mind that baby shampoo was not promoted for adult
use until rather recently. The claims of "mildness" are a bit
misleading, since the main purpose of baby shampoo is not to protect
the baby's hair, but to protect the eyes, in case shampoo drips into
Regarding the advertising strategies used by Johnson's:
"Johnson & Johnson, when faced with a stagnant growth for their famous
baby shampoo 'No More Tears' in the US child-care market, started
promoting it as a shampoo for adults as well. They used celebrities
who have thinning hair. Their 'gentle-enough-to-use-everyday-twice'
and 'so mild, so good' campaign resulted in finding new users for No
More Tears and helped the marketing personnel from shedding any more
tears! Today, No More Tears is one of the largest seller in the
highly-competitive hair care market, globally. Johnson & Johnson's
success was definitely through making customers invest in their
shampoo in terms of time, trust and confidence, thereby making them
feel successful in managing their thinning-hair better. ('If it is
good for babies, it will not harm my hair.') J&J basically succeeded
in making switching difficult."
India Infoline: Speed : The New Competitive Edge
Here are some newsgroup posts that may interest you:
"...there's a lot of stuff that's analogous, such as 'baldness', which
'normally' occurs in a delayed fashion. with respect to the hypothesis
i'm discussing, the correlation that i'm focussing upon is like the
one i've observed with respect to my use of this or that shampoo and
the rate at which i experience hair loss. (which is why, BTW, i'm a
devoted 'fan' of Johnson's Baby Shampoo... minimizes hair-loss.)"
Post to bionet.neuroscience newsgroup:
"I'm 35 years old and had a receding hairline since I don't know when.
Recently its become more noticeable and if possible I'd like to do
something about it. I have no hair loss in my crown so from what I've
read here and on www.regrowth.com minoxidil won't help. I don't fancy
messing with my libido so Proscars out.
Is there anything that will at least stop further loss and what can I
do to ensure healthy hair? Vitamins? etc?
What sort of washing regime do you guys use? I wash every 3 days
should I wash more often?
Oh and are there any shampoos that should/shouldn't be used?
You could start taking a multi-vitamin supplement or something like
sunflower oil capsules or cod liver oil capsules. These will assist in
hair health. A healthy diet is also important (not that I have a
healthy diet but some people swear by it!) Massage is also pretty good
for getting the circulation going...
I wash my hair at least ever two days and usually every day. As
regards shampoos I make my own but probably the easiest thing to do is
to buy a very mild shampoo. Something like a baby shampoo is ideal.
Avoid 2-in-1 products like Wash'n'Go or anything that promises to wash
and condition your hair. Avoid products with Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
Avoid most supermarket shampoo's - they're mass market products and
are usually made with the cheapest chemicals the companies can find.
Post to alt.baldspot newsgroup
In case you are interested in investigating other shampooing options,
I found a site devoted to the subject of hair loss which offers
reviews of many different products:
Regrowth.com: Hair Loss Shampoo Reviews
Finally, I will offer the text of an email I received from a friend,
who is a Certified Aesthetician at a day spa. Since I knew that she
has experience in assisting clients with many kinds of skin and hair
problems, I wrote to her asking for her advice on shampooing and hair
loss. This was her response:
"There is no one product that is equally good for everybody. Each
person's scalp and hair chemistry is slightly different, and a product
that slows hair loss in one individual may cause another individual to
lose hair more rapidly. I do suggest trying several different shampoo
formulations, and using each for at least two weeks to assess the
results. Rotating among three or four brands on a regular basis, every
few months, may be a good idea, since staying with the same shampoo
for too long can cause chemical residues to build up on the hair
shaft, and this can accelerate hair loss.
It is important to avoid any and all products that contain sodium
lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These chemicals are present
in many, many hair care products, and in my opinion they should be
banned by the FDA. They are harsh and possibly carcinogenic.
If a person shampoos every day, even a very gentle cleanser (like the
surfactant detergents in Johnson's Baby Shampoo) will be able to
adequately control the buildup of sebum. Actually, some people who
shampoo every day may be removing too much sebum, and stripping their
hair and scalp of emollients that help keep the hair and scalp
flexible and healthy.
When I lived in Canada, I was surprised to learn that some Eskimos and
Aleuts wash their hair seldom, if at all. Yet they tend to have very
thick, glossy hair, with fewer bald patches and receding hairlines
than Caucasians. I suspect it is mostly in the genes. For those who
have a genetic predisposition toward balding, minoxidil (Rogaine) and
finasteride (Preopecia) are the best options available. Shampoo,
regardless of its formulation, is not likely to make a very noticeable
difference one way or the other."
I hope this provides a bit more perspective on the matter of hair loss
and shampooing. Please let me know if anything I've said needs further