Know what ingredients to stay away from and what to look for now for healthy hair.

Hair Products

Love your products but don't know what's in them? Time to educate yourself.

Confessions of an ingredient junkie

Some people are product junkies. I’m an ingredient junkie. Ultimately, I strive to predict whether a product is worth my time and money before I commit to trying it.

As I’ve experimented with new products, I’ve discovered three categories of ingredients that suggest a product is going to provide more bad hair days than good ones. Obviously, every curly’s hair is different, so what is a disaster for my curls may be the bees knees for another head of curls.

Here are my four tips for deciphering ingredients labels.

Gunky, hard-to-remove ingredients (petrolatum, beeswax, candellia wax)

If an ingredient is difficult to remove from carpeting, skin or clothing, you can bet it’s going to require some umph to cleanse off of your curls. These ingredients require higher temperatures of water and more concentrated, sulfate-containing shampoos—used more frequently—to budge the buildup. The reason this can be a problem is that curls can lose definition and bounce with a lack of moisture. Shampooing more often and with harsher shampoos can yield more frizz and flat curls.

While petrolatum and beeswax usually produce gradual buildup symptoms, candellia wax (the wax that makes lipstick a solid stick instead of a liquidy gloss) gives me intense frizz from the first day. The symptoms of gunky ingredient buildup lean more toward flatness, a greasy appearance, and frizz.

These symptoms can be remedied by more frequent shampooing and clarifying. However, regular use of products with these ingredients can cause dry frizz (from more frequent shampooing and these ingredients preventing moisture from reaching your hair).

Silicones and siloxanes

Silicones (including siloxanes) seal the cuticle and impart a powdery smooth, shiny finish to hair. Most silicones do not rinse away with water alone, which means they require a shampoo to remove. When silicones build up, they generally cause a producty-fake shininess and frizz or chaotic frizz with no separation of curls from one another. Many curlies can use some silicones with desirable results, while others find they cause intense frizz. I personally love dimethicone but experience intense frizz with siloxanes.