Have you ever tried to read the ingredients on the back of a bottle of shampoo and conditioner?
A long list of long words with innumerable z’s and y’s doesn’t look worthy of bed-time reading. But you will be doing yourself a favour understanding these ingredients and what they do because, in most cases, you’ll find that they can actually do more harm than good to your hair.
Let’s have a look at some of the most common ingredients in supermarket shampoos and conditioners.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (aka sodium lauryl ether sulfate)
What is it? As well as taking the top spot in most shampoos, SLS is also commonly found in dishwashing detergent. Why? It makes foam; it has an emulsifying action which separates molecules, creating an effective lather for cleaning.
Why should you avoid it? We should be careful with SLS because it is a known skin irritant, and can cause corrosion. Ouch.
What is it? Amodimethicone is a family of modified silicones that make great conditioning and agents, and they are attracted to areas that are in need of moisturising more than others. They help hold the cuticle flat, so you can comb wet or dry hair with ease.
Why should you avoid it? Once this silicone is on the hair, it stays latched on through several washes. This means moisture and protein aren’t able to get to the hair shaft.
What is it? Isopropyl alcohol is used in shampoos because it dissolves grease.
Why should you avoid it? The basic fact that this petroleum-derived chemical compound is an alcohol should be enough to ward anyone off from letting it go near their hair. Because isopropyl alcohol is so good at cutting through oil, it can strip your hair of its moisture if you regularly use a product that contains it.
It’s helpful to remember than when picking a good shampoo, you can’t have your cake and it eat too: there will never be an effective product that doesn’t contain at least one not-that-great ingredient. But armed with the right information, you’ll be able to pick your battles better.