Published on August 25th, 2009 | by Shayna Teicher6
Ask the Beauty Chick…
Dear Beauty Chick,
At a popular hair salon the stylist recommended that I use a hair oil to make my hair silkier, shinier and in better condition. It’s argan based which I’ve heard is good, and he told me it was natural, but there seem like an awful lot of chemical-sounding ingredients in it. I really liked the smell and how my hair looked when I used it but I’m wondering how ‘natural’ it really is. These are the ingredients as listed on the bottle.
Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Butylphenyl, MethylPropional, Argania Spinoza Kernal Oil (Aragan Oil), Linseed (Linum Usitatissimum) Extract, Fragrance Supplement, D&C Yellow-11, D&C Red-17, Coumarin, Benzyl Benzoate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
That’s great that you’re willing to look for a more natural alternative to this product that you, admittedly, like the end results of. I know how difficult it is to feel like you have to sacrifice results for questionable ingredients. Unfortunately, your concerns about the ingredients are not without merit, but the good news is that there are some awesome products out there with a much better ingredient profile that should give you just as great results.
You are absolutely right about Argan Oil being a great ingredient. One of the rarest (and consequentially, one of the most expensive) oils in the world, Argan oil is exceptionally rich in natural tocopherols (vitamin E) and is also rich in phenols and phenolic acid, carotenes, squalene and essential fatty acids (a.k.a. omega oils). Basically, the chemical makeup of this natural oil gives it the ability to improve hair strength and health as well as help increase shine and decrease frizziness. Linseed Oil is also a great ingredient for hair products as it is moisturizing and high in linoleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid and antioxidant which studies have shown to be effective in cell regulation and skin-barrier repair as well as having anti-inflammatory benefits.
The first three ingredients listed are silicones. While silicones are derived from Silica (a naturally occurring mineral) they are generally considered to be synthetics. Silicones do have many legitimate medical uses, however in hair products they mainly serve the purpose of coating the hair shaft to give it a silkier feel. They also have water-repelling properties, which help to cut down on frizz. The downside, they can build up over time, weighing down the hair and making it dull a limp. It is not so much that the silicones themselves damage the hair, but rather that they simply coat it, masking any damage rather than actually improving it at a cellular level. The silicones coating the hair can also prevent other, more beneficial ingredients from actually penetrating the hair so that they can improve it structurally. Essentially, the silicones aren’t necessarily bad, they just don’t provide anything more than a temporary benefit.
The rest of the ingredients, I regret, are questionable. Butylphenly MethylPropional is a synthetic fragrance/odor-masking ingredient (it worries me when there is more of a fragrance ingredient in a product than the active ingredients!). Then, of course “fragrance supplement” indicates a synthetic perfume, otherwise they would promote that they use all-natural fragrance, although you could always call the company to check. Then you have some dyes (in my opinion, unnecessary). Coumarin and Alpha Isomethyle Ionone are also fragrance ingredients as well and are often synthetic. Benzyle Benzoate is a fragrance ingredient as well as a solvent.
My verdict: the argan and linseed oils are great, everything else is expendable, but if the other products you use are largely natural in formulation and you really love this product and aren’t sensitive to it, it’s not the worst product you could use. Please note, however, that if you were putting it directly on your skin I would have a very different opinion since, unlike the hair, the skin much more easily absorbs ingredients into the body and bloodstream. If you still want to go for a purer product (it’s certainly worth a try) I highly recommend Rare Elements El Treatment as a weekly treatment. It contains only 100% pure natural oils and no silicones, dyes, fragrances, or preservatives. Having used this myself I can tell you it is a fantastic product and the more you use it, the more you see real, long-term results in your hairs’ appearance, shininess and scalp health.
An option for styling is Jonathan Product Green Rootine Silkening Crème. I’ve found that, depending on your hair type, this one can require a little playing to find the best way to use it but once you get it right, it’s brilliant. I rub a pearl-sized amount between my palms and then work it through towel dried hair-staying away from the roots-and it give me perfectly soft, shiny waves with no greasiness. I did search rather extensively for a hair product that was argan oil based but did not contain the types of ingredients we are trying to avoid and was unable to find one, however you can purchase pure argan oil and use it as a treatment on its own.
The Beauty Chick
Have a beauty question? Ask The Beauty Chick! Send questions to Shayna@ModernHippieMag.com.