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Curly Nikki

Our Resident Chemist…JC!

By January 27th, 20216 Comments

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’).

So, what ya’ll think?! Is Lustrasilk a go?


  • Anonymous says:

    Question for JC our resident chemist (fantastic idea). Are ‘cones okay so long as you rinse them out? I really love Herbal essences HH conditioner, it detangles my hair really well but I don’t leave it in. Will my hair potentially still be at risk of the adverse effects of ‘cones though I make sure to rinse it out?

  • Rena says:

    I did a dt with aohr and the pantene deep conditioner(brown jar) I used curls milkshake and the lustrasilk with the olive oil as leave ins, put my hair in one braid. Next morning still damp put in alittle more lustrasilk. my curls were very well defined and clumpy but not as shiny as i would have liked. I wore it out all day. When i got home I pulled outhe the shea butter one and smoothed in a fair amount. I had a lot of shine and nice defined curls. I am glad for the chemist input very informative. Thanks Nikki for a wonderful blog!

  • Rena says:

    I DID A DT WITH AOHR AND THE PANTENE DEEP CONDITIONER WITH HEAT ,THEN USED CURLS MILKSHAKE AND THE LUSTRASILK WITH OLIVE OIL, PUT MY HAIR IN ONE BRAID. The next morning it was still damp used a little more curls milkshake and lustrasilk my curls were very clumpy and defined but not shiny. Wore it out all day when i got home i pulled out the shea and mango lustrasilk and smoothed some through my hair . It gave my hair a better shine more than the olive oil hair is soft and moisturized. I like it! Its nice to have a chemist around!

  • Laquita says:

    Another great post. It is very informative.

  • Anonymous says:

    It’s way past my bedtime so I’ll keep this short- I just wanted to say thanks for such an informative post! I vote for the “chemist” to be a regular contributor 🙂

    Thanks for the great info as usual Nikki! I’m going to buy some Lustrasilk tomorrow actually. I’ll let ya know how it goes!

  • Nika says:

    Well first shame on you Nikki for posting about the lustrasilk. I was finally getting away from my PJ’ism. Well, you review made me go out and buy it. I purchased the olive one because it has the same exact ingredients as the one you have it just eliminates the shea butter. My hair is not crazy about shea butter. Well I just tried it on dry hair it feels so nice. It dampens the hair a bit, so I will have to wait until morning to see the results. So far so good. As for the article from the chemist, thanks so much for posting. She puts a lot into perspective. On one hand silicones can be bad, but at least they are tested tried and true. Natural products can sometimes be different from bottle to bottle and results not proven from years of use. So there are pluses and minus to non-natural products and plus and minuses with natural products. I’m trying to be sensible. Up until now my only requirement was to use a non-sulfate shampoo and I will continue to so so. I am going the route of trying to stay away from silicones but if my hair doesn’t like that route then I will go right back. It just ain’t that serious. Right now I am testing my aubrey organics white camellia against the neutrogena triple moisture mask(I love the stuff). Seems like the white camellia gives my hair the same buttery feel as the NTM so if so then I can leave the cones alone in the conditioner. Woohoo!! Now if this lustrasilk works as well then I don’t see any reason to use cones. I don’t use heat much but if I do is there anyway to protect your hair from heat damage besides cones? I’ll have to look into that.

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