For those of you that haven’t been following the comments on THIS POST, I thought I’d post a couple of JC’s pearls of wisdom here. Her knowledge is much appreciated!
CN: “…So how do you feel about silicones? Parabens? Are the claims that we run across daily on the boards true? Or are people ringing false alarms?”
JC: Ok I had to do some research for you as parabens are not something that I work with, although silicones are.
Silicones from my experience are added for two reasons. First they coat the outside of the hair with a hydrophobic layer(water repelling) protecting the inner moisture(in the cortex) of the the hair. This allows silicones to correct porosity (meaning while you wash your hair, it will take up some water and the silicone seals that water). This also causes the hair to ‘slip’.Second reason, they are reflective and therefore create shine to the hair (hence why shampoos/serums which advertise themselves as shine enhancers are silicone heavy). The problem with silicones is that they are very difficult to remove. In the lab we actually restrict one room exclusively for handling silicone as once you get it on a surface, it is nearly impossible to get completely off even with aggressive solvents. So you can imagine that soap will not do a much better job. The build up of silicones can cause your hair to become dull as it builds up, it also attracts and traps dust/particles of dirt/natural hair oil etc. Some people also say their hair gets dry as since the silicone is stuck on and water cannot get in anymore but there is no research to support this. Hair serums on a separate note, add silicone to protect the hair from burning and to add shine(hence most thermal protection serums are also silicone heavy). Therefore everyone needs to make a decision on whether to use silicone products based on how frequently you wash your hair (ideally with shampoo, not co-washing because that doesn’t have sufficient detergent to strip off the silicone in general). I personally do not use silicone products (hair serum) as my porosity is great and my hair shines naturally (but yes there are trace amounts of silicone in my shampoo).
Parabens are added as a preservative. At the moment, there are no alternatives since one of the best preservatives out there is formaldehyde and most people are not happy with that. Pretty much every product will contain parabens (and if they don’t want to scare you, it will just say preservative). The reason for this is the fact that these hair products (shampoo and conditioner) are actually mostly water. As I said before, a bottle of water on a shelf for several months means some serious bacteria. It would cost just too much to make preservative free products as they would probably need refrigeration and would still only keep for a week or so. Now I don’t fancy a trip to the supermarket to get my hair product everytime I need to wash my hair. Here are the facts, yes parabens have been found in breast cancers but nobody knows how they got there. Some (very weak) research points the blame at deoderants and cosmetics but really nobody knows. So again the decision is for everyone to make for themselves, you can pick a preservative free brand or not. Again, for myself (and myself only) I ignore parabens on the label.
I wasn’t asked about this one, but I want to point out some very important information on natural products. First, natural products are not always a better alternative. Some natural products can be toxic depending on where they were obtained and how they were processed. Therefore, don’t just buy anything, pick one that is well processed. Secondly, natural products will vary batch to batch. The shea butter from one plant will not be exactly the same as one from a plant right next to it (this is just biology, cells do what they want to do). This is why the synthetic industry is booming because you can predict what results you are going to get from manufacturing the product from start to finish. This is not to say that you shouldn’t use natural products, but just to say if you use it once for a couple months, buy a second batch then suddenly don’t get the same results, you know the reason why.
I hope that sheds some light on those products for you, glad to be of assistance :).
CN: JC, Thank you soooooo much! I hope you come back often…maybe you can be our resident chemist! Not to put you to work, lol, but how do you feel about the Lustrasilk Ingredients??
JC:Thanks for the compliments. I haven’t been able to access my scientific journal database because it is being maintained.
As I am trying not be biased, here’s what I can say about lustrasilk from an ingredient stand point. It seems to contain quite a few oils/fatty acids (the butters/oils/cetyl alcohol). These would probably be used for a ‘conditioning effect’. Meaning they make the hair strands feel smoother and softer. This is not to say that the hair is smoother or softer, it just feels this way as the oils/butters will sit on the hair.
I can’t quite seem to find any proper research on using cholesterol in hair (that’s why I wanted my database!!), so I can only make assumptions from the chemistry. Cholesterol is quite unique being both a steroid and an alcohol (so it is a bit like a fatty wax). I guess it would be added in to the product along the same lines as the fatty acids and oils.
Something to bear in mind is that quite often, manufacturers name ingredients in order of quantity (not always but often). Lustrasilk has listed early on a few ‘good ingredients’ like cetyl alcohol and shea butter which are good for conditioning. I’m not certain on the cholesterol part and a few people are allergic to wheat germ oil. I would also make a quick mention of the artificial colours (which are generally not necessary).
It is a try and see approach for this one. The oils may be good for some hair but not for others (especially if your hair has little to no heat/chemical damage and good porosity, the product may make your hair feel heavy, oily and reduce the ‘slip’).