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Product Review: Nioxin Deep Repair Hair Masque and Nioxin Reflectives Silk Elixir

Hair Nioxin Review Nioxin's products promise to make hair silky and more manageable.
Nioxin Deep Repair Hair Masque ($17, amazon.com) and Nioxin Reflectives Silk Elixir ($14.50, amazon.com) promise to be just the cure for dull, frizzy hair. I decided to put them to the test after Nioxin sent them our way and found that they gave me soft and silky strands.

Silicone and Cationic Conditioners (Masque)

Nioxin Hair Mask Silicones and quats in this masque coat hair to make it more manageable.
Nioxin Deep Repair Hair Masque has Behentrimonium Chloride, which is a cationic surfactant, also known as a quaternary ammonium compound. It’s one of the most commonly found cationic surfactants in deep conditioning beauty treatments (Curls and Coils). Much like silicones, cationic surfactants help to coat hair and thus make it smoother and more manageable (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists). And cationic surfactants are positively charged, whereas hair is negatively charged, so they attach better than silicones. They also adhere more readily to damaged hair, making them superior for coating in that regard. These kinds of treatments form a protective layer over hair that has been found to improve hair strength after treatments like hair straightening (Chemistry and Materials Science). It also has Dimethicone, one of the heaviest silicones found in hair products. The quaternary ammonium compound helps to the silicone stick further, making this combination excellent for protecting damaged hair. Silicones help to reduce combing force on both wet and dry hair — preventing breakage — and also protect from heat (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, HAPPI). The only downside to both of these ingredients is the potential for build-up. [Read More: Are Silicones in Hair Products Good or Bad?]

Hydroxyethylcellulose and Caprylic Acid (Elixir)

Nioxin Reflective Silk Exlixir has hydroxyethlycellulose thickening agent and stabilizer, which is is a non-ionic, water-soluble polymer that comes from plants. In hair care, it’s often used as a film-forming agent and also helps hair maintain its moisture content (Amerchol). Caprylic acid is one of the acids found in coconut oil that makes it beneficial to hair (Examiner).

Alcohol is Good for Hair (Masque and Elixir)

Nixion Silk Elixir Alcohol helps to hydrate hair and hydroxethylcellulose helps maintain moisture.
While alcohol can sometimes have a bad reputation, in the case of Nioxin Deep Repair Hair Masque and Nioxin Reflectives Silk Elixir, the alcohol serves to hydrate, making hair smooth and soft. To remember which alcohols are good for hair and skin, you can use the pneumonic device “5 C’s steer left”: cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, cetostearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol 40, C12-15 alcohols, stearyl alcohol and lanolin alcohol. The masque has stearyl and cetyl alcohol. The elixir has ceartyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol. Because of where the other alcohols — benzyl alcohol and phenoxyethanol — fall on the list, they likely act as degreasing agents (DERMAdoctor).

Personal Use and Opinion

Both Nioxin Deep Repair Hair Masque and Nioxin Reflectives Silk Elixir are easy to use and have a pleasant fruity-floral aroma. I used the masque in place of my regular conditioner and left it in for 5 minutes, on the long side of the 3-5 minutes recommended. It rinsed out well and I found my hair was easier to comb through, even more so than it is with my regular conditioner in. After putting in the silk elixir, I used my regular curl cream. I found that the effect was still noticeable. My hair was softer and my curls were better formed in great ringlets.

Bottom Line

Nioxin Deep Repair Hair Masque and Nioxin Reflectives Silk Elixir gave my hair an extra boost of moisture and also coated the strands so they were softer and more manageable, which is great for curly hair. The only potential downside is that quaternary ammonium compounds and silicones can build-up, but with the right shampoos, these can be washed out. Overall, I’d say this is definitely something I’d start to incorporate in a regular routine. Product Rating: 8/9

  • High or optimized concentration of ingredients: 3/3
  • Unique formulation or new technology: 2/3
  • Value for the money: 3/3
Masque Ingredients
Water, Stearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Bis-Aminopropyl, Dimethicone, Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Vaccinium Myrtillus Leaf Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Silk, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil.
Elixir Ingredients
Water, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Polyquaternium-11, PEG-40 Castor Oil, Stearalkonium Chloride, Amodimethicone, Fragrance, Ceteareth-20, Panthenol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Methylparaben, Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Propylparaben, Cyclomethicone, Trideceth-12, Methylisothiazolinone, Cetrimonium Chloride, Hydrolyzed Silk, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Yellow 6, Red 33.
FutureDerm rating:
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Date: October 15 2012 at 3:51 PM
  1. Tiffany Martin
    October 15 2012 at 6:54 PM

    What would be a good list of ingredients to look for in a shampoo to avoid buildup from these two products?

  2. Natalie Bell
    October 16 2012 at 1:09 PM

    @Tiffany: I hope this post helps! http://www.futurederm.com/2012/10/16/how-to-handle-silicone-buildup-in-hair-do-you-need-a-clarifying-shampoo/ You want to look for surfactants with sulfates being the best. But if you're opposed to those, there are surfactants that are less effective but still work. And overall, buildup isn't a problem for everyone, it depends on your routine and your hair.

  3. Tiffany Martin
    October 18 2012 at 4:09 AM

    What a great post! I loved reading it. It came up in my RSS reader and I was like "Oh great, I was wanting to read more about that" and then I read it and it seems like you were inspired by my question. I feel glad knowing you listen to your readers and I enjoyed the article ^_^ It helped me know exactly what to look for.

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