Common Ingredients Found In Hair Care Products

One of the main keys to having healthy hair, whether it is or isn't chemically processed, is the products that are used. With a plethora of products available it can be hard to decipher which products have ingredients that promote healthy hair and which have ingredients that mask the evidence of unhealthy hair.

Hair products for relaxed hair that have different ingredient lists lying down..
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Before we can break down the good versus bad ingredients, we have to first understand what the ingredients are. The best place to do that is to look at the ingredient list on the products we have in our bathroom cabinet.

When you look at the ingredient list on the back that shampoo, conditioner, or styler it may be overwhelming. Several of the ingredients are technical words that probably aren't familiar. Which ones are good? Which ones aren't so good? Which ones on the list will be most effective?

When reading a hair care ingredient list here are four things to keep in mind:
  1. Ingredients are typically listed according to their concentration. That means the ingredients with the highest concentration are listed first
  2. The first five ingredients on the list tend to have the most impact because they have the highest concentration
  3. Water is the best moisturizer out there and should be the first ingredient listed for shampoos and conditioners
  4. Not all alcohols are bad. The ones to look for are fatty alcohols and begin with the letter 'c' or 's' such as Cetyl alcohol or Stearyl alcohol

Additionally knowing the types of ingredients that are typically used is helpful. Most hair care products contain these types of ingredients (please note the examples below are a mix of good and bad ingredients):

These are arranged compounds made up of carbon, water, and hydrogen. E.g. lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol.

These ingredients help with softening the hair and detangling. They may also provide some protection to the strands until the next wash. E.g. silicones, behentrimonium methosulfate.

These ingredients draw moisture from the air. E.g. glycerin, glyceryl stearate.
Oils: E.g. naturals oils and minerals oils.

These are the ingredients that extend the life of the product by keeping bacteria from growing and thus the product from going bad. E.g. parabens, phenoxyethanol.

A key part of the makeup of hair. Helps strengthen areas of the hair and build the hair shaft back up that have been weakened. E.g. hydrolyzed wheat protein, keratin.

Also sometimes referred to as detergents. They are the cleansing agents that when dissolved in water they pick up and wash away dirt and oils on the hair and scalp. E.g. sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate.
A breakdown of the common types of ingredients found in hair care products. |

Over the course of my striving for healthier hair, I've been reading up on hair care ingredients and would like to share with you what I've found. Hence a new series focused on the types of ingredients that we should look for in shampoos and conditioners, and which ones we should avoid.

What ingredients do you look for when shopping for hair products?


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