Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What's in Your Shampoo?

They say "Don't judge a book by its cover," and a similar thing applies to hair products. Don't judge a shampoo (or conditioner or gel, etc.) by its bottle. Fancy labels and high price tags don't necessarily translate to good products. What DOES matter is what's in those products, so the most important part of the label? It's not the brand or the sparkly letters or the miracle promises. What matters is the stuff in tiny type -- the list of ingredients.

And that's why professional salon products especially formulated for curly hair are often the best, since they have the ingredients you need and avoid the ones you don't. But the stuff you find at the local drugstores? They can be great, too, if you know what you're looking for.

The rule of thumb for bouncy curls: No sulfates, which is a type of surfactant, aka detergent.

      A surfactant—sometimes referred to as a detergent—is a substance that, when dissolved in water, gives a product the ability to remove dirt from surfaces such as the human skin, textiles, and other solids. There are several types of surfactants, from harsh to mild, and sulfates are in the most harsh class. Common sulfates as found on hair product ingredient bottles include:
  • Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
  • Ammonium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate
  • Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate
  • Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
  • Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
  • Sodium Laureth, Myreth or Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
  • TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate
Milder surfactants—less drying and recommended in lieu of sulfates — include:
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Coco Betaine
  • Cocoamphoacetate
  • Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate or Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Lauroamphoacetate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

Now, makes sense that we wouldn't want harsh detergents messing with our curls, right? Next week we'll talk about proteins! Meanwhile, you can learn more in the Live Curly Live Free e-book, Unlocking the Secrets Behind the World of Beautiful Curly Hair.

Live Curly, Live Free, The e-book, is available for Kindle, iPad and Nook formats. In it, Curl Whisperer Tiffany Anderson-Taylor tells us all we need to know to have healthy, happy curls.

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