The Ultimate Hair Care Guide to Deciphering Your Shampoo

Hair Care Sells

Today, people are looking for hair products that have quality ingredients and are made with an objective to either grow your hair or strengthen it.

The natural hair care market is no different. You can find the word "natural" across every product in the ethnic hair care aisle because it is what sells. In fact, the natural hair customer is interested in products that aren't only naturally derived but organic. This is so that they feel an extra boost in confidence when using it! And this is why I got to investigating!

Unfortunately, the ingredients label on a lot of hair care products is in code. Looking at some of the top shampoos in the natural world, almost all of the ingredients are under a chemical name or compound.

And what's even more frightening is if there is a hint next to it in parenthesis, it is only telling half of the story. Half of the time I would not be able to tell you what I am buying let alone what I am using to wash my hair. So, I decided to take ingredients from popular natural hair shampoos including Shea Moisture, Curls, and Mane Choice to see what I am really putting in my hair.


1. Deionized Water

Deionized water is water that has been treated to remove all of the ions or mineral salts.

This water is exceptionally pure and has been filtered to remove any inorganic materials. Then it is put through reverse osmosis to get rid of any contaminants. When this process is over, it goes through the process of getting rid of any charged non-organic particles to make it deionized.

Deionized water is essential when it comes to your hair products and your hair care regimen in general. The damaged parts of your hair have a negative charge, and water that is not pure will contain minerals that bind to the negatively charged areas of your hair.

If your hair care product or shampoo contains a formula with regular tap water that still carries the minerals in it, those minerals will create a barrier for the products that you purchased to penetrate the hair shaft.

Consequently, it would not affect your hair in the way that you want it to.

2. Decyl Glucoside (Coconut Oil)

Decyl Glucoside is a natural, non-ionic surfactant. This is what you use when you want to give your product a foaming or lathering property.

A surfactant is necessary because it helps to lessen the surface tension between water and dirt or grease. If you have it in your product one side of the surfactant will attach onto the water while the other side will attach onto the dirt and break it up so that you can wash it away.

Decyl Glucoside is a gem and in and of itself because it's from the corn or coconut vegetables. This means it is biodegradable and ideal for babies' pets and other subjects that need to go through gentle cleansing.


3. African Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)

Butyrospermum Parkii is a vegetable fat that comes from the African shea tree.

This product is traditionally used to condition the skin, but it also forms a barrier to trap water in and retain moisture. This is preferred over a lot of other fatty oils because it doesn't turn into soap when alkali comes into play. Instead, it stays a moisturizer and keeps its original properties.

However, it still able to keep bacteria out and stops any type of irritation while still regenerating the skin and acting as an anti-inflammatory.

4. Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B-5)

Panthenol is A derivative of Vitamin B. It helps brittle hair fight against breakage.

Whenever you wash your hair with a product that has panthenol inside of it, the panthenol penetrates the hair shaft and promotes moisture retention. Note, if you have hair that has good elasticity and is naturally moist you could experience a little bit of build-up around your roots.

Meaning, this ingredient can make your hair a little greasy or waxy, but panthenol is water soluble so that you can wash it out.


5. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Cocamidopropyl Betaine Is another surfactant made from coconut and dimethylaminopropylamine.

It produces a really thick leather when used in a bottle of shampoo and when used in a conditioner. It is an anti-static agent. A lot of natural hair care brands use Cocamidopropyl Betaine and play up the fact that it is made from coconut to keep its product in the realm of natural hair care products. However, it was also named as an allergen of the year for 2004 by Acps.

Unfortunately, this ingredient that was supposed to replace cocamide DEA, a known carcinogen in shampoos and conditioners, is known to Irritate are mucous membranes and cause eczema or skin irritation.

A lot of people say it is from the dimethylaminopropylamine. Dimethylaminopropylamine Is a diamine that used when prepping surfactants and listed to irritate eyes lungs and skin when used in a cosmetic product.

6. Glycerin

Glycerin Is a colorless odorless liquid that comes from plants or non-natural sources.

You want the glycerin that has come from a plant or some type of animal fat because that's the glycerin that is beneficial to you and your health along with the health of your hair.

Glycerin is a humectant so while it can attract water to your hair, it can also take moisture away from it. Why? It pushes water to wherever it needs it the most, so if the air around you is not humid enough the moisture will leave your hair and go into the air. You really need to use glycerin when you're going to be out in a moderately humid environment so that it can attract moisture from the air around you. This means that glycerin will also help you to define your curls.

Glycerin will work best in an environment like a super moist bathroom as well. So, when present in shampoo or leave in conditioner/steam treatment combination this ingredient is definitely a good idea.


7. Glycol Stearate

Glycol Stearate Is used to condition skin, it could give color to clear cosmetic products, and it thickens the consistency of those cosmetic products as well.

The biggest draw in regards to glycol stearate is that it is an emollient, it softens the hair. There are no real disadvantages to using it in a bottle of shampoo or any cosmetics. You may or may not have an allergy to it, but it's not something that is known to irritate someone's skin.

Nevertheless, this compound makes people uncomfortable because it is made from ethylene glycol the same ingredient that makes antifreeze. Let's be honest that just does not sound like something you should be putting in your hair.

8. Polyquaternium-10

When used in hair care products Polyquaternium-10’s purpose is to increase the hair body and act as an anti-static agent. A lot of you may need this benefit to reduce frizz. Polyquaternium-10 can do this because it has a positive charge and it neutralizes negative ions.

Polyquaternium-10 is hydroxyethyl cellulose. After a Hydroxyethyl ingredient goes through its process of quaternization, it is known to attach the most damaged parts of your hair. When it does this those parts of the hair shaft are conditioned.

That helps when it's time to comb your hair by easing the process of detangling and decreasing the amount of hair that would seemingly break otherwise.


9. Cetrimonium Chloride

Similar to the compound above, cetrimonium chloride Is a conditioning agent. It's derived from coconut oil or petroleum-based products.

It's a quaternary ammonium compound, so it's essentially a long molecule with a positive charge at the end. That positive charge latches onto the negative charges of your damaged hair to prevent flyaways and things of that nature.

This enables you to actually style your hair without much of a fuss! Think of it as only helping your hair where it's needed. In most products, it does not have a high concentration, so it is not known to be toxic when used in products where you can just rinse it off.

Because shampoo is that type of product, I think you are pretty safe!

10. Chamomilla Recutita

Chamomilla Recutita comes from the chamomile plant!

I know you're probably thinking about chamomile tea and how it's so calming and soothing to your mind. Isn't it great to see that it is also very nourishing to your hair? Additionally, finding a product with chamomilla Recutita is excellent because we can always get it. That is the biggest plus about a natural resource.

Chamomilla Recutita is perfect for hair because it's also an anti-inflammatory. The anti-inflammatory property is something that a lot of naturals need. Mostly when experiencing irritation from the pulling at their roots with some of these natural styles.

It also works for the hair by stimulating and strengthening the root of your hair to experience more hair growth. I'd recommend this ingredient to someone with an oily scalp as well because it helps eliminate dandruff.


Knowledge Is Power

Although we didn't cover everything in a lot of “natural” shampoos, these ingredients really stuck out to us.

They're in a wide range of commercial shampoo products. And it's important that we know what we are using on our hair. Don't let the long names of different chemical compounds intimidate you. Educate yourself on what is really helping you to retain not only length but healthy hair strands.

Once you know what is benefiting you, get more of that and avoid what you don't need. These things may be what is irritating your scalp and stopping you from having a healthy head of hair. We are challenging you to check out the label on your shampoo bottle.

Leave some of the ingredients in the comments below along with what you are learning about them!

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