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Monday, October 5, 2009

Cosmetic Chemistry Tidbits #3

Hello everyone! In this episode of CCT, I'll be talking about... shampoo! What it's made of, why it works, different kinds, and alternatives to shampoo as well.

First things first: What is the purpose of shampoo? Shampoo is meant to cleanse your scalp and hair. An effective shampoo must remove all dirt, debris, oil, and product without compromising the integrity of your hair. Your hair and scalp need to be cleansed regularly because natural oils and perspiration combine with the natural scales and dirt, which can then be home to a myriad of disease producing bacteria, which can then cause scalp disorders. This is something you want to avoid. You should shampoo your hair according to how quickly your hair and scalp get dirty. Be careful though, excessive shampooing is bad; it strips your hair of the small amounts of sebum that protects the cuticle.

So, you know what it's for, but what's in it? The first ingredient in every shampoo is water. If there is a shampoo on the market that does not have the first ingredient listed as water, please comment and let me know. Usually the second ingredient is the main surfactant. A surfactant molecule has two ends: a hydrophilic (water-attracting) head, and a lipophilic (oil-attracting) tail. While you're shampooing your hair, the hydrophilic head attracts the water and the lipophilic tail attracts oil, and this process causes the oil and debris to be lifted off the hair and rinsed away. Other pretty standard ingredients (depending on the type of shampoo) can include humectants, protein, oils, foam enhancers, fragrances, and preservatives.

Just so you guys know, shampoo is the biggest expenditure in hair care products. So, in case I bored you with all that talk, let's discuss the different types of shampoo.
  • An everyday shampoo is one that's acid-balanced (which means its pH is 4.5-5.5). Most experts believe that having a low pH prevents excessive dryness and damage. This makes it safe to use everyday, if you want.
  • Moisturizing shampoos are best for chemically treated hair. The conditioning agents in the shampoo add moisture, volume, and slightly strengthen elasticity. They also do not strip the hair of artificial color. Every "color-safe" shampoo is moisturizing. Actually, most of the shampoos on the market these days are moisturizing, even if they don't say it on the label. Usually the one's that are opaque, or like have that pearly look to it will be moisturizing. Just check the ingredients. ;-)
  • Clarifying shampoos contain a strong acidic ingredient to cut right through product buildup, leaving hair thoroughly cleansed and often quite shiny. They are not meant to be used daily, only when you can feel the buildup on your hair. Maybe try once a week, or every two weeks.
  • Color-Enhancing shampoos combine shampoo with basic colors (usually aniline tint). These shampoos are kind of like color rinses, and last only from shampoo to shampoo. They can be used to brighten hair color, whether it's natural or artificial, or correct unwanted tones, like violet shampoo.
  • Medicated shampoo contains special chemicals that are used to treat excessive dandruff or other scalp disorders. Shampoo like Head & Shoulders or Selsun Blue is for mild dandruff, but if it's really bad you have to get a medicated shampoo from a physician, because they're quite strong. Sometimes they have to sit on the hair for a long period of time to take effect. It really sucks if you have color treated hair.
  • And then there's dry shampoo. Dry shampoo has been around for a verrrryyy long time, but for some reason is getting hugely popular again. Dry shampoo, whether it's in an aerosol or powder form, is basically made of a powder--like starch, talc, clay, etc. The powder absorbs the oil in your hair as it's brushed out, extending the time between your next shampoo as well as adding some volume.
Now, if that wasn't enough for you, there are some alternatives to shampoo. Some people like to co-wash their hair. Co-washing is simply skipping the shampoo and either rinsing their hair with water and using conditioner, or using a light conditioner like a shampoo and using a heavier conditioner after. Some people skip putting anything in their hair and just rinse it with water. To each their own... I guess. I know that there are tons of shampoos out there, so hopefully this helped to give you some insight, and now you won't be so intimidated the next time you go shopping down the hair care aisle. =P

What's YOUR favorite shampoo, and why? Comment and tell me, I'd seriously love to know! :D That about wraps up this episode of Cosmetic Chemistry Tidbits. Take care of your hair, and happy washing! XOXO


Unknown said...

I know this might be bad. But I love Tresemme Deep Cleansing Shampoo + Remoisturizing Conditioner Combo. It is cheap and does the job. The conditioner is very light leaving my hair manageable to all the product I use. I also use Selsun Blue daily because of my dandruff.


James: Hey, I always say, if it works for you, go for it! There's nothing wrong with using products you like. :)