20 March 2012

Shampoo & Conditioners

Hair care products are mainly divided as, Shampoos, Conditioners, Styling and Fixing gels, colorants, and hair loss care products.

Shampoo and Conditioners :

Hair grows all over the place on our skin except on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. Hair is made up of a protein named keratin (the same protein in our nails) produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin. As follicles produce new hair cells, old dead cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin at the rate of about six inches a year. The hair you can see is actually a string of dead keratin cells, just like your nails. The average adult head has about 100,000 to 140,000 hairs and loses up to 100 of them a day; so seeing a few strands of hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily cause for distress.

There are some clues to identify the type of your hair. If your hair looks dull and greasy, it is an oily hair. It can quickly become oily. It can attract dirt easily. You may have to wash your hair frequently in that case. If your hair has split ends, tough to the touch, frizzy and if you find the combing or brushing operation difficult, then your hair is dry hair. After concluding on the type of your hair, have it confirmed from a competent source and then go to the market for choosing the right type of shampoo for your hair. If your hair is chemically treated, you have to go in for a shampoo designed specifically for that purpose. Also find out the texture of your hair, whether medium or coarse and select a proper shampoo to treat it. If you have curly or wavy hair the shampoo should be able to penetrate up to the root of the hair. If you have dandruff problems specially designed shampoos are available. A pharmacist can guide on your choice.

Hair care is an overall term for parts of hygiene and cosmetology involving the hair on the human head. Hair care will differ according to one's hair type and according to various processes that can be applied to hair. All hair is not the same; indeed, hair is a manifestation of human diversity.


Shampoo is a hair care product used for the removal of oils, dirt, skin particles, dandruff, environmental pollutants and other contaminant particles that gradually build up in our hair. The object is to remove the undesired build up on hair without stripping out so much sebum on hair. (Sebum is an oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands attached to hair follicles. Its main purpose is to make hair waterproof and to protect them from drying out).

Shampoos have a pH of between 4 and 6 and do not contain soap. Soapless shampoos are acidic and therefore closer to the natural pH of hair. Acidic shampoos are the most common type used and maintain or improve the condition of the hair as they don't swell the hair shaft and don't strip the natural oils.

Shampoo is generally made by combining a surfactant, most often sodium lauryl sulfate and/or sodium laureth sulfate with a co-surfactant, most often cocamidopropyl betaine in water to form a thick, viscous liquid. Other essential ingredients include salt (sodium chloride), which is used to adjust the viscosity, a preservative and fragrance.

Needless to say that we are adding chemicals through our scalp skin to our bodies being Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Xylene Sulfonate, TEA Lauryl Sulfate, Sulfur (in dandruff shampoos)
Selenium Sulfide (in dandruff shampoos), Less common ingredients, Magnesium Sulfate
Sodium Thiosulfate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Alkyl Sodium Sulfate, Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate, TEA-Dodecylbenzene, Sodium C12-15 Alkyl Sulfate, Sodium Dodecyl Sulfonate

Conditioners :

Even though most modern shampoos include a conditioning component, shampooing is frequently followed by the use of conditioners which ease combing and styling. Conditioners are often used after shampooing to smooth down the cuticle layer of the hair, which can become roughened during the physical process of shampooing.

There are three main types of conditioners:
Anti-oxidant conditioners : which are mainly used in salons after chemical services and prevent creeping oxidation.

Internal conditioners : which enter into the cortex of the hair and help improve the hair's internal condition (also known as treatments).

External conditioners : or everyday conditioners, which smooth down the cuticle layer, making the hair shiny, combable and smooth. Conditioners can also provide a physical layer of protection for the hair against physical and environmental damage.

Conditioners are frequently acidic, as low pH protonates the amino acids, providing the hair with positive charge and thus more hydrogen bonds between the keratin scales, giving the hair a more compact structure. Organic acids such as citric acid are usually used to maintain acidity.

There are several types of hair conditioner ingredients, differing in composition and functionality:
  • Moisturizers : whose role is to hold moisture in the hair. Usually these contain high proportions of humectants.
  • Reconstructors : usually containing hydrolyzed protein. Their role is supposedly to penetrate the hair and strengthen its structure through polymer cross linking.
  • Acidifiers : acidity regulators which maintain the conditioner's pH at about 3.5. In contact with acidic environment, the hair's somewhat scaly surface tightens up, as the hydrogen bonds between the keratin molecules are strengthened.
  • Detanglers : which modify the hair surface by pH as acidifiers, and/or by coating it with polymers, as glossers.
  • Thermal protectors : usually heat-absorbing polymers, shielding the hair against excessive heat, caused by, e.g., blow-drying or curling irons or hot rollers.
  • Glossers : light-reflecting chemicals which bind to the hair surface. Usually polymers, usually silicones, e.g., dimethicone or cyclomethicone.
  • Oils (EFAs - essential fatty acids) : which can help dry/porous hair become more soft and pliable. The scalp produces natural oil called sebum. EFAs are the closest thing to natural sebum (sebum contains EFAs).
  • Surfactants : Hair consists of approximately 97% of a protein called keratin. The surface of keratin contains negatively-charged amino acids. Hair conditioners therefore usually contain cationic surfactants, which don't wash out completely, because their hydrophilic ends strongly bind to keratin. The hydrophobic ends of the surfactant molecules then act as the new hair surface.
  • Lubricants : such as fatty alcohols, panthenol, dimethicone, etc.
  • Sequestrants : for better function in hard water.
  • Antistatic agents.
  • Preservatives.

Read out. What do the contents of our Shampoo and Conditioners actually do to our hair:

Ingredients that do nothing :
Digesting proteins will certainly improve your health but washing your hair with them won't change a thing.
Vitamins and provitamins
Offer no advantage to hair care or hair problems.
Botanical extracts
Make a product smell good but do not offer any other beneficial qualities to hair care.
UV protectant
Very minimal results were noted on the tested products.
Fruit acids, a.k.a. alpha-hydroxy acids
Offers no benefit to hair care.
Offers no benefit to hair care.
Designer water
Benefits derived from including designer water to hair products will be washed away with normal shower water.
Manufacturers use humectants in shampoo mainly to increase advertising verbiage. The shampoo detergents remove the humectants that attract moisture to hair.

Ingredients that actually Work:
Ammonium lauryl sulfate
Detergent type ingredient that cleans the hair.
Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride
Promotes smoothness and volume to hair.
Coats the hair adding to manageability and softness.

Many of the less expensive shampoo products contain the basic ingredients which will actually improve hair, while leaving out the fluff ingredients. Antioxidants and botanical extracts may make the product more appealing, but can also run up the price, offering no true benefit to improving our hair.

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