The Ingredients in Shampoos and Conditioners and their Significance
I love doing articles like these. For one, they help provide information to the many, many people who read it. Second, they settle some very common questions. Third, the ingredient names are awfully long, and are really fun to say with your mouth full of cranberry cheesecake! (Momma’s cheesecake! Yippee!!!) :toothygrin:
First, the very popular silicone debate – Bad or Good? :)? Keep reading to find out!
What are silicones?
According to trusty ol’ Wikipedia, Silicones are inert, synthetic compounds with a variety of forms and uses. Typically heat-resistant and rubber-like, they are used in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medical applications (e.g., breast implants), cookware, and insulation.
They normally end in -cone, -conol or -xane, and are abundantly found in hair conditioners, and even in many shampoos.
Typically not soluble in water, there are a few silicones that are soluble in water – if any silicone in the ingredients list has ‘PPG’ or ‘PEG’ in front of it, it is soluble in water. The rest of them, on the other hand, are insoluble in water. With regular usage, they build up on the hair and scalp, leading to dull, lifeless and tired hair. They create a layer on your hair that does not allow any product you use on it to touch the hair strands and actually work. Some common silicones of this kind are dimethicone, dimethiconol, cetyl dimethicone, cetearyl methicone, and stearyl dimethicone.
Then there are those silicones that do not lead to much build-up, but are still not water soluble, like amodimethicone, trimethylsilylamodimethicone, cyclomethicone and cyclopentasiloxane, stearoxy dimethicone, etc. The only silicones I’m personally comfortable using are: Anything with PPG or PEG in front of it. Also, lauryl methicone copolyol, dimethicone copolyol.
What Silicones do to Hair:
Silicones by themselves do not harm hair. They don’t corrode it. They don’t make it turn purple (even though that would be really, really cool!). In fact, they make hair easier to comb, making it shinier and smoother all the while. Sounds like fun? Well, it isn’t. Over time, silicones build up on the hair shaft and seal out moisture, leading to hair that is non-eceptive to any products you may use further.
One very interesting thing is that silicones take different time to build up on different people’s hair. For some people, they have to use a silicone hair product for a few months before they can see the effects of any build-up. For others, just 2-3 washes leads to hair being suffocated with the silicone. In order to remove the silicone from hair (to prevent any build-up from forming), we need to use cleansers that are detergents or surfactants containing sulphates like Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate (SLES), Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate.
As I said above, sulphates will remove silicones. Thus, you won’t have any nasty build-up from the silicones accumulating on your head. Sulphates are generally harsh – for instance, SLES, ALES, Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Sodium C14-16 (Olefin Sulfonate), Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Myreth Sulphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate.
So, to solve this problem, what you need to do: As I have said so far, silicones cause build-up, which needs to be removed with sulphates. Sulphates, in turn, are harsh on hair and very drying – this leads to us feeling the need for MORE silicones, which need more sulphates, and so on. It’s a very vicious cycle, as you can see. Thus, most shampoos and conditioners are interdependent!
What I mainly want to do is avoid sulphates. If I do that and still continue to use silicone conditioners, I will have build-up. Thus, in order to avoid sulphates, I avoid silicones. I do use a sulphate shampoo once in a blue moon, but I am convinced that using sulphates almost never is way better than using them regularly to remove silicone build-up.
Always remember, silicones are mainly in conditioner, but sometimes in shampoo as well. Sulphates are in shampoo only. So, if you do like I do and not use a silicone conditioner, but if you use a shampoo (whether with or without sulphates) that contains silicones, there will be build-up caused. Thus, even your shampoo must be silicone-free.
Now, I know this sounds very confusing and pretty skewed. In order to avoid sulphates (my main goal), I avoid silicones at all costs, and use shampoo which is silicone free (but which contains sulphates) occasionally! 🙂
The key to avoiding sulphates is to avoid silicones at ALL COSTS. This is because it’s okay to use sulphates very rarely, than to use silicones and have build-up which will necessitate sulphates being used frequently. Our main aim is to escape from the drying effects of sulphates!
What are the Ingredients in Sulphate-Free Shampoos?
You might wonder what makes the shampoo clean your hair if it doesn’t contain sulphates. Well, there are other ingredients that are surfactants or detergents, which can clean hair effectively, without stripping it of moisture like sulphates do. For instance, Cocoamphodipropionate, Coco Betaine, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocoamphoacetate, Lauroamphoacetate, etc.
Conditioner Can Clean Hair:
If you take a look at this article here, you will notice I’ve mentioned that I “co-wash.” That means, I don’t shampoo, but I use conditioner instead to CLEAN my hair. It is the conditioner itself combined with the mild scrubbing action that helps to loosen dirt and lift it away from the scalp. Again, no using silicone-conditioners.
Humectants, according to Wikipedia are hygroscopic substances. It is often a molecule with several hydrophilic groups, most often hydroxyl groups, but amines and carboxyl groups, sometimes esterified, can be encountered as well; the affinity to form hydrogen bonds with molecules of water is crucial here. Since hygroscopic substances absorb water from the air, they are frequently used in desiccation or for humidity buffering. They can be both bad, and good for our hair. It all depends on the amount of moisture in the air, aka humidity level. Humectants wick water to themselves, from either the air, or from your hair; i.e. from whichever one has more moisture. So, if your hair is drier and the air is humid, the humectants you’ve applied to your hair will draw moisture from the atmosphere, and will keep your hair moisturized, since it is, after all, applied on your hair!
However, if your hair pretty well moisturized and the air is dry outside, it will draw moisture away from your hair, leading to drier hair. You have to see what your hair needs. If you have a problem with “poofy” hair (hair that poofs outward into a big mess), you must not use humectants, since they will attract moisture from the air, onto your hair and we all know what happens to hair with moisture, it gets bigger and poofier. Don’t quite see it yet? Imagine flat-ironing your hair, and then going out on a humid day and sweating your face off. Now, do you get it? 😛
If your hair is limp and needs a bit of moisture for volume, then by all means, use humectants. Think of it this way; frizz and humectants are friends. You want frizz to go away, then you mustn’t use its friend – Mr. Humectant. If you want frizz, then by all means get Mr. Humectant along and have a ball! :toothygrin:
Examples of humectants are glycerine, propylene glycol, butylenes glycol, panthenol and that’s just off the top of my head.
These are exactly the opposite! They lock out moisture from a humid environment into the hair shaft, which means that hair is basically unaffected by humid weather. Also, they flatten, coat and seal the hair shaft. Sounds familiar? Yes, I said the exact same thing about silicones. Now I would love some anti-humectants in my hair. But, I do not want to use silicones.
Luckily, there are other ingredients that also are anti-humectant, eg. isopropyl palmitate, castor oil, shea butter, beeswax, coconut oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, olive oil etc. These I use occasionally in my hair products and routine. Now, assess the climate of the place you live in, and follow these three points given below for help. 🙂
• Basically, if the dew point is low, use less humectants (because your hair has more moisture than in the air), and moisturize your hair well (low dew point means a dry day with no much humidity in the air). If you use too much humectant, there is a chance that they will suck the moisture from your hair, leaving you with dry hair. Your best bet is to moisturize and then seal with some anti-humectant. Oils like those I mentioned above will help seal in moisture and protect hair from the dry air.
• If the dew point is moderate, use a little bit of humectant. There is a good amount of moisture in the atmosphere for your humectants to suck in and thus make your hair soft and bouncy (not too dry, not too humid either).
• When the dew point is high (very humid days), use anti-humectants to counter the effect of the moisture in the air, on your hair. If you use a humectant, it will draw all that moisture from the air and could make your hair poofy and frizz. However, if you use anti-humectants, (eg. a little bit of castor oil or almond oil mixed in with your leave-in conditioner), the hair is protected by them, and, as a bonus, anti-humectants (except for silicones) are easily washed away with a co-wash or a mild shampoo.
So yes, in conclusion, for extreme dew points (high or low), use anti-humectants, and on balanced days, use a little bit of humectant. Humectants will affect your hair mainly in your leave-in. If a product you’ll be rinsing out contains humectants, there is less chances of that affecting your hair. Also, the lower it is in the ingredients list means the less the product contain it.
Damaged hair is porous and thus more vulnerable to climatic conditions, the torture you might subject it to by blow-drying and/or flat-ironing. Remember the Andre Walker System I wrote about a few weeks ago? Well, that’s only a generic classification. What actually determines if your hair is damaged (and thus what you need to use for it to regain its health) is the porosity of your hair.
If your hair is overly porous, it has an open cuticle, which means it needs more moisture, as it releases moisture easily and remains dry. (it absorbs moisture easily, because it is porous, but it also releases it just as easy!)
If your hair has low porosity, it tends to resist any product you apply to it, rather than absorb it into the hair shaft. According to Tiffany Anderson, “To determine your own hair’s porosity, grasp a hair strand firmly between your fingers. Slide the thumb and index finger of your other hand from end to scalp (opposite direction as for texture test). If your fingers “catch” going up the strand, or feel like they are ruffling up the hair strand, your hair is overly porous. If it is smooth, you have normal porosity. If your fingers move very fast up the hair strand and it feels exceptionally slick, you have low porosity.”
Thus, you hair could be even Type 4, but it may not be able to deal with heavy moisturization; or it could be Type 2, but might need heavy-duty moisturizing product! The hair classification is mainly to explain to people what your hair looks like, and not the state of its health.
Thus, if you have, say, Type 2a hair, and you use products that are light and not intensely moisturizing, but your hair feels coarse and dry, it is probable that you have overly porous hair, which is why your hair easily releases all the moisture in it.
In the same way, if you have Type 4b hair (for which heavy moisturization is normally recommended) but it is very fine and wispy, then you need light moisture, and not intense moisture.
My hair needs moisture. If I add more protein in my hair, it’ll turn brittle and will look like straw. Normal hair can withstand both, moisture addition and protein addition. Mine cannot withstand protein addition. My hair becomes rough and fragile if I use hair products with a lot of protein in them. However, my hair simply loves and thrives upon moisture!
If you find that you seem to be doing everything fine, but your hair is still dry and brittle, try cutting down on the protein treatments and products heavy on protein, and see if your hair becomes better. Examples of protein are amino acids, keratin, hydrolyzed silk protein, egg masks etc. Now, how do you tell if your hair needs protein or moisture? Check this link out.
Brands To Use:
I am saying this now, loud and clear. It does NOT matter what brand you use. You must scout for good ingredients, not for “good brands.” Brands aren’t what make a product do what it does, but the ingredients are. Any brand, if it has good ingredients and doesn’t have adverse effects on your hair, can be used. As long as you avoid the ingredients,you mustn’t use, and try using those that are most beneficial, you’re well on your way to a happy head of hair! Experimenting with products isn’t bad at all. Always try different products to find what’s best for your needs; for if you don’t do so, you’ll never know! There could be a miracle product that 98.3% of the population raves about, but unless you try it on your own hair and see what it does to YOUR hair, you cannot expect that if you were stranded on some forsaken island with a crate of that product, your hair will still live on and flourish! :haanji:
Help with ingredients:
There is a wonderful ingredients list on this site here. I don’t very much agree with some of Teri’s methods, but I must say this Ingredients Dictionary is indeed comprehensive and pretty accurately compiled.
Conditioners in India that are silicone-free:
This is what I’m currently using. I adore all variants of this conditioner – they work well, they moisturize my hair well, and they’re great for co-washing. Not locally made, but imported from England. I have already reviewed them on IMBB, Rs. 160 for 400 mL.
2. TBS Rainforest:
I have heard that this range is silicone free. I’ve never used this conditioner, though, because, for one, everytime I go to TBS, they somehow never have it in stock. 🙁 Another thing, it works out kind of expensive, considering I co-wash everyday, and thus end up using a LOT of conditioner every single day. I do not know where these are manufactured. Rs. 695 for 400 ml. This has been reviewed on IMBB too.
3. Revlon Flex:
I didn’t like this one. First, it smells weird. It’s not a bad smell, per se, and of course it is purely personal preference, but I detest the smell. It isn’t unbearable, but when I have the option to not use it, I definitely grab it! Second (and more important), it made my hair dry. This is probably due to the panthenol in it (remember I said that my hair doesn’t need protein, and too much protein can make hair dry and brittle?) I can’t find any other ingredient that I could blame for this, so it’s probably the protein. And yes, they do mention “Protein Power” or something on the pack, but I just had to try it out to see how it worked. :toothygrin: This is manufactured in Rudrapur, and it is Rs.140 for 592 mL. This can be ordered online also.
4. Alberto VO5:
This one is something I very badly want, but it is unfortunately unavailable as of now, in my city. Very effective and they have lovely variants! Not manufactured in India; imported from outside. Around Rs. 200.
Suave Naturals too has wonderful conditioners full of good stuff in them. Again, not available in my city. Not manufactured in India; imported from outside. I’ve never tried this, but many trusted sources say they’re good.
6. Matrix Biolage:
Thanks to Jabberwocky for suggesting this one! I poked around the internet, and yes, people say that this range is silicone-free. Unfortunately, I tried looking literally everywhere for this, but just couldn’t find it. I don’t know where this is manufactured, and I‘ve no idea of the price.
Expensive doesn’t mean good always and cheap needn’t mean bad. For instance, most of the conditioners above are very low priced, but they have good ingredients and work very well.
When I say avoid silicones, you must follow that only if its build-up is causing you problems. By problems, I mean something you do not want your hair to do, like frizz up, or go limp on you. Always look at ingredients, and see how your hair is reacting to what you’re doing to it. If silicones work for you, by all means, use them. If they don’t, now you know why 🙂 There may be certain ingredients that people say are ‘safe’, and scientifically, they’re ‘good’ for your hair, but your hair doesn’t like them so much and frizzes out in defiance. Well, then, you must stop using those ingredients, and must only use those your hair is okay with.
If you use the right ingredients, do your hair the right way and expose your hair to minimal damage, your hair should be absolutely free of frizz, should be soft and healthy and shouldn’t be rough or coarse, AND it should feel the same way even without any product in there (with allowances for frizz that’s caused by curls separating from each other).
You will also find that as time goes by and your hair regains its health, you’ll be needing a lesser amount of conditioner.
The science applies to all kinds of hair – whether straight or curly. However, since curly hair needs more moisture as compared to straighter hair, this routine of avoiding sulphates (and thus silicones) will help your hair immensely.
If what you’re doing already is working, go ahead. If it isn’t, maybe give this whole article a chance and see what your hair surprises you with!
Fab India Aloe Vera Protein Conditioner
Biotique Bio Watercress Fresh Nourishing Conditioner
L’Oreal Total Repair 5 Shampoo and Conditioner
Shampoo & Conditioner for Damaged Hair : Ask IMBB
Boots Seawood Conditioner
Avon Advance Techniques Moisture Sleek Smoothing Conditioner
The Body Shop Rainforest Shine Conditioner
Khadi Herbal Hair Conditioner with Vanilla and Honey
L’Oreal Nutri-Gloss Conditioner
Oriflame Hairx Daily Care Leave-in Conditioner
Sunsilk Hair Fall Solution Shampoo and Conditioner
Dove Intense Damage Therapy- Shampoo and Conditioner
Richfeel Scalp Cleanser Shampoo and Conditioner
Revlon Aqua Marine Hair Conditioner
Himalaya Hair Detangler and Conditioner
Schwarzkopf Repair Rescue Conditioner
Lush NEW! Shampoo Bar and American Cream Conditioner
The Body Shop Olive Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner
Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo + Conditioner
Dove Daily Shine Therapy with Advanced Serum Shampoo + Conditioner
Oriflame White Nettle & Papaya 2- in- 1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo & Conditioner