Fitz is furious…Why is sodium hydroxide in my Herbal Essences conditioner? Will it take my hair out? YIKES!!!
The Right Brain responds:
You can rest easy, Fitz. Herbal Essences won’t cause you to lose any hair (unless you’re pulling your hair out after trying to figure out all their overly cutesy names.)
Sodium hydroxide is safe
After looking at a few Herbal Essences conditioners we noticed that only some of them, such as Hello Hydration, contain NaOH (that’s chemist talk for sodium hydroxide.) Here are the ingredients:
Water, Stearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Bis Aminopropyl Dimethicone, Orchis Mascula Flower Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Silk Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Fragrance, Benzyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Blue 1
We’re not sure why some versions use it while others don’t, but in any case it’s there for one reason: to adjust pH. While NaOH is damaging to hair when used at high concentrations and at high pH, when used at low levels at neutral pH, it doesn’t cause any problem at all. That’s because sodium hydroxide is basic (hi pH) and it will react with other ingredients that are acidic (low pH.) This reaction neutralizes the hydroxide so it’s not harmful to hair.
The above is just a reminder… I’m sure many of you were already in the know! #curlychemists