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Cheat Sheet for YOUR Product Selection


I find it fascinating to walk into a beauty supply store of any sort and take on the challenge of finding the perfect hair products that will satisfy all of my needs. When it comes to packaging, fragrance, convincing commercials, sexy stars promoting a particular brand, my  personal sensitivities and allergies, I feel like throwing whatever is on sale in my cart and beelining to the check out.

For this reason, I created a cheat sheet to use when considering hair products for yourself. I'll simplify a few of the ingredients and descriptions commonly used so you can choose with confidence.

Sulfates: I hear this word all the time. Sulfates are a chemical detergent that’s extremely effective at removing oil and dirt. They’re harsh on the hair and scalp and they strip away natural moisture that lives in your hair, but they’re also responsible for creating the luxurious bubbles. Look for co-washes or lower sulfate cleansers and conditioners that clean the hair while leaving natural moisture intact.

Parabens=Preservatives: Preservatives are used to lengthen shelf life by preventing bacteria from growing. The further down the list of ingredients you find them the better because these chemicals are trace amounts. It’s common today to find paraben free products. Just remember not to keep them on the back of your shelf for too long.

Silicone: A synthetic material with the ability to lubricate, seal and bond which can also waterproof and coat the hair strands giving an illusion of shine. Any ingredient with -cone at the end is a form of silicone. Ideal shine happens when hair is properly hydrated and kept as healthy as possible. Silicones prevent moisture from penetrating the hair shaft making it a dirt magnet. They can weigh hair down, making it limp and very dull. If you use products with silicone, it's a great idea to clarify your hair weekly or biweekly.

Alcohol: There are many types of alcohol found in hair products that can affect hair in different ways. Depending on the alcohol's molecular structure, some can be more stressful to the hair than others. SD Alcohols, typically found in hairsprays, are a bit more drying on the hair, while cetyl alcohol is more of a 'fatty'  (oily) alcohol which can be more like an emollient on the hair helping the hair cuticle to lie flat. Propylene glycol, on the other end of the spectrum, is waterfriendly and can attract and hold water in the hair.

Although, I’m no chemist, I addressed the most common concerns I see at my salon and offered some easy solutions. As with reading our food labels, more and more people are reading the labels on their beauty products. I hope this little cheat sheet helps you. Remember to keep in mind your hair type and your desired result. The product that’s best for you may not be the product that your best friend is raving about.