If you want your hair to look its best then you need to know what to look for in hair care products. It’s the only way to make sure your hair stays strong, shiny and healthy. You should read your hair product labels like some people read nutrition labels. Here is some info from cosmetic chemists on what to specifically look for when you go shopping for your own hair products.
Most shampoos contain a surfactant. Surfactants aid in both making foam and in emulsifying the grime and dirt in your hair. A common surfactant is sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate. If you wish to avoid sulfates due to irritation then look for shampoos that contain the detergent lauryl glucoside. Chicago-based cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski confirms that it is gentler but will still remove the dirt from your hair.
The gold standard for conditioners is coconut oil. Coconut oil is both effective and attractive to those who prefer natural ingredients. Romanowski reports that coconut oil penetrates the hair and makes it stronger and more flexible.
Jojoba oil, olive oil, and palm oil also give hair moisture and shine. These oils work even better when combined. They all contain constituents of sebum which is the oil made by the human body. Ergo, the oils are compatible with hair and reinforce something already present.
Another good ingredient is hydrolyzed keratin. It’s a protein in both human hair and skin. It strengthens the hair shaft which can prevent breakage.
Romanowski concludes that it is good for treating hair damaged by bleaching and permanents. It also serves as a filler. It smoothes chipped hair strands.
If you prefer a shampoo-and-conditioner in one then look for the nourishing ingredients known as polyquaternium-10 or polyquaternium-7. These polymers actually have a positive charge, which balances both the harsh effects and the negative charges of the detergent in the chemical formula. A New Jersey-located cosmetic chemist, Ni’Kita Wilson states that polyquaternium-7 is especially effective in helping “with comb-ability and detangling”, adding that it also helps to soften hair.
At-Home Hair Color
Coconut, mango, and shea butter are commonly found in conditioners and styling products, they are especially good in at-home hair color since hair dyes often strip strands of hair of their natural moisture. Wilson says that the butters all form “a protective barrier around” each strand of hair that will reduce the negative “impact of harsh treatments.” Both shea and mango butter also lock and seal moisture into the hairs. Coconut oil provides hair strands with further conditioning.
Check your heat-styling products for silicones as they both help protect hair from heat damage and help to make it shine. Wilson explains that they form “a stable barrier” that does not permit anything to go through hair. They actually have a higher tolerance for heat than natural oils do. Her personal favorite silicone is dimethicone which she concludes seals individual hairs “really well” and also locks in moisture.
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