Ingredient Breakdown #2 – John Frieda Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating shampoo & conditioner

Hi guys!
You might have recently seen my post Ingredient breakdown #1 – Herbal Essences daily detox shampoo & conditioner (Golden raspberry & mint) which was the first post in this ‘Ingredient Breakdown’ series. I wasn’t sure if I was going to carry on making posts for this series as I didn’t know how many people would really find this interesting since it’s quite science based. Butttt, it seemed to go down pretty well and people were keen to see some more posts! So I decided to do my second instalment on the John Frieda Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating shampoo & conditioner. If you’re interested to find out how good this shampoo & conditioner combo is in terms of ingredients then keep on reading. – Brace yourself, there’s a lot of ingredients..

First off, I do really love using this shampoo and conditioner. I bought it when I first had my blonde ombre put in my hair to keep it looking fresh. It was a touch more expensive than other shampoo’s and conditioner’s you can get in places like Superdrug, but it was nothing crazy! Every time I use it my hair is left feeling really soft and manageable. I like to use it about once a week or once every ten days. It’s quite a runny shampoo but that doesn’t bother me at all and the smell is so good. Although my hair feels clean after using these products, it feels cleaner when using the Herbal Essences detox combo.

* the higher the ingredient in the list, the more there is within the product.



Aqua – Water
Sodium Laureth Sulfate – This is a surfactant found in many personal care products and produces the lather in the shampoo, (because it breaks down the molecules to allow better interaction between the hair and shampoo). Although this is deemed as safe to use by many organisations, it is a known irritant to skin and eyes. So if you have a particularly sensitive scalp maybe steer clear. It has a very similar name to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), however Laureth (SLES) is a gentler surfactant. Some people try to stay away with the two SLS ingredients as they believe it causes dry and brittle hair.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – As I’ve just mentioned, SLS is a more harsher surfactant than SLES but it is found in an awful lot of shampoo’s and other personal care products. Again, it causes lather in the shampoo. There are conflicting reports on SLS and many people try to stay away from it due to a few reports suggesting a link between this chemical and cancer. However, there is no evidence that SLS causes Cancer. Lush has a page on their website all about this chemical which you can check out here for loads more information about where SLS is derived from etc.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine – Another surfactant which causes lather in the shampoo and it comes from coconut oil. It is also a thickening agent to the consistency of the shampoo.
Sodium Chloride – This is basically salt and is totally safe to use. It again is used to thicken shampoo.
Cocamide MEA – A foaming agent. A lot of ‘natural’ shampoo’s contain this as it comes from coconut oil. However, there is some controversy as to if this is actually a natural product since it is made with coconut oil and a chemical compound called ethanolamine. the FDA say this ingredient may lead to the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. Which is pretty scary since these compounds can induce cancer in animals… so who knows what its doing to us..
Parfum – fragrance.
Silicone Quaternium-18 – As you may know, silicones are said to weigh the hair down and will eventually make hair dull, limp and lifeless, despite the initial shine it may give. It can actually prevent moisture from reaching the hair as it produces a ‘film’ or ‘coating’ over the hair. Therefore it can cause dry, brittle hair which can lead to breakage. Many people choose to stay away from silicones in general.
Glycol Distearate – This produces the pearlescent effect in shampoo. It also creates a lot of foam. It is considered safe, but not natural.
Benzyl Alcohol –  A natural, non volatile alcohol used as a preservative. However, in products, we often find a synthetic version rather than the natural version. It is safe in the quantity that it is found in hair care products.
Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride – This is a conditioning agent which helps prevent hair tangles and is actually natural and organic and importantly, safe.
Trideceth-6 – a surfactant derived from vegetable oil.
Disodium EDTA – A chelating ingredient which increases the lather in shampoo. It is safe but some reports consider this toxic, however it is a safer option than other similar ingredients.
Trideceth-12 –  a surfactant derived from vegetable oil.
Malic Acid – an organic acid found in food such as apples. Also found naturally in plants and animals. It is a known irritant and is actually restricted in Canadian cosmetics. It is safe in small amounts but shouldn’t be overused.
Glycine – A simple amino acid which is a conditioning agent and a fragrance.
PPG-9 – a synthetic alcohol which is a conditioning agent.
Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil – Sunflower oil.
Stearoxypropyl Dimethylamine – A conditioning agent which is a mild surfactant so a good alternative to SLS. Removes build up on hair.
Propylene Glycol – Has quite a bad reputation as it is potentially toxic and is found in anti-freeze. It is also known to irritate the skin. However, it is found in many cosmetics and is generally considered safe in these amounts. If you want more information about this ingredient, since a lot of people are wary of it, then you can check out this link.
C14-28 Isoalkyl Acid – A safe conditioning agent
Sodium Hydroxide – Produces lather and can be a PH balancer. Nothing to worry about, check out this link if this is an ingredient you worry about. It explains it in a lot more detail.
Caramel – A colorant and fragrance.
C14-28 Alkyl Acid – A conditioning agent which is safe to use.
Methylchloroisothiazolinone – Perservative with anti-fungal affects.
Stearyl Alcohol – a fatty alcohol used to form emulsions and stop them from separating into its oils and liquid components. A conditioning agent that coats the hair. Deemed as safe but can be a human irritant.
Methylisothiazolinone –  Preservative. Some concerns with reports finding that exposure to this can cause damage to cells. Two studies on rat brain cells found that this chemical caused damage to those cells. However, the cosmetic industry deemed this safe to use as it is extremely low in cosmetics.
Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract – Commonly referred to as green tea extract. Anti-carcinogenic. Could prevent the formation of cancer tumours.
Butylphenyl Methypropional – Fragrance
Limonene – Fragrance from citrus fruit. An irritant and toxic to wildlife and possibly humans. Has restrictions in cosmetics but in small amounts is allowed.
Hexyl Cinnamal – A natural ingredient used as a fragrance additive to make floral scents stronger.
Linalool – Used in floral fragrances. Occurs naturally in essential oils.


* Anything without a definition is already listed above in the shampoo list.

Cetearyl Alcohol – 
Emulsifier which stops the oils and liquids in the conditioner separating. Also a surfactant. Suspected to be an environmental toxin.
Dimethicone – A type of silicone. For more info on silicones see Silicone Quaternium-18 in the shampoo list.
Behenamidopropyl Dimethylamine – An anti-static ingredient which is an alternative to other surfactants. It is biodegradable so therefore eco-friendly.
Cetyl Esters – A synthetic wax which is a common conditioning agent in self care products.
Stearyl Alcohol – Similar to Cetearyl Alcohol as it is a fatty alcohol used to form emulsions and stop them from separating into its oils and liquid components. A conditioning agent that coats the hair. Deemed as safe but can be a human irritant.
Caprylyl Methicone – Another silicone.
Lactic Acid – Most commonly found in skin care products to combat acne but in hair care it is usually used to smooth hair and make it more manageable. It can also make hair stronger.
Benzoic Acid –
A preservative and fragrance. Restricted in Japan. There is some limited evidence of organ toxicity but it is gerenally classified as safe. However, there is limited data on the safety of this ingredient so some people choose to stay away. May be dervived from animals according to PETA.
Benzyl Alcohol
Isopropyl Palmitate –
A thickening agent usually derived from coconut oil. May be derived from animals according to PETA. Safe in the amounts it is found in cosmetics.
Disodium EDTA
Stearoxypropyl Dimethylamine
C14-28 Isoalkyl Acid
Distearyldimonium Chloride –
Anti static conditioning agent. Human toxicant, irritant and allergen.
Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil
Malic Acid
C14-28 Alkyl Acid
Propylene Glycol
Camiellia Sinensis Leaf Extract
Butylphenyl Methylpropional
Hexyl Cinnamal 

That’s everything. Honestly, I feel like there are quite a few questionable ingredients in this shampoo and conditioner. Particulary Cocamide MEA. I am also undecided on using silicones at the moment. I may try to purchase shampoo’s/conditioners with less in.

Leave any comments below. I hope you found this interesting.

Jazmin xx


  1. June 16, 2017 / 2:31 pm

    I used to live on John Frieda Sheer Blonde!! Fab products.

  2. June 16, 2017 / 5:18 pm

    I have been using this shampoo for a little while, mostly because it is easy to track down. I have a once a week purple shampoo I use too, I believe the brand is “not your mom’s”? I would be interested to see what you start using in place of this since I would like to give it a try too.

    • June 16, 2017 / 5:23 pm

      Yeah it’s been so handy to use! I will keep you updated with what I switch too. Thanks for stopping by xx

  3. June 16, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    So interesting! I used to use the shampoo/conditioner for brunettes and loved it. But I would also recommend purple shampoo for blonde or highlights, it’s a game changer!

    • June 16, 2017 / 5:34 pm

      Yes! I’ll give the purple shampoo a go on my blonde ends 🙂 xx

  4. Julie
    June 16, 2017 / 5:43 pm

    Fab and very detailed xx

  5. chxrlotterose
    June 16, 2017 / 9:25 pm

    I’ve never seen a post like this before! I love seeing what each ingredient does haha ☺️ xx

  6. June 17, 2017 / 11:49 pm

    I don’t know about you, but this didn’t clean my hair very well! I loved what it did to my blonde highlights but I just didn’t feel clean! X

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