The Science Behind Blake Lively’s Hair

The Science Behind Blake Lively's Hair

Blake Lively may be married to Ryan Reynolds, but it’s her hair that gets our attention here at FutureDerm.  Based on reports from Lively’s stylist, Jennifer Johnson, here are the products Lively uses to give her hair that gleam:

1.)  Kérastase Masquintense

The Science Behind Blake Lively's Hair - Kérastase Masquintense

According to Johnson, “I use the Kérastase mask on Blake twice a week. Her hair gets styled every day for the show, so it goes through a lot.”

We also love the Kérastase masks -  see our post, The Product That Saved My Hair – Kérastase Masquintense – from years ago!  The product is amazing because it contains four key hydrators:

  • Cetearyl alcohol is a long-chain alipathic alcohol that is commonly seen in reparative shampoos and conditioners in concentrations up to 20%.  It lubricates the hair and gives styling products a creamy consistency.  Cetearyl alcohol has also been found to be largely non-toxic, as established by research published in the journal Toxicology.
  • Amodimethicone is an abbreviation of “amine-functionalized silicone”.  According to cosmetic chemist Tonya McKay Becker, the secret to amodimethicone is that it provides selective conditioning to the areas most in need of it. The mechanism is electrostatic attraction, as highly damaged areas of hair possess higher negative charge density, which enhances the affinity of the positive charges to that area.  Amazing!
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein has a low-molecular weight, enabling it to penetrate the hair shaft.  Once inside, hydrolyzed wheat protein acts as a humectant, attracting moisture from the environment.  As discussed in the textbook Conditioning Agents for the Hair and Skin, hydrolyzed wheat protein has been shown to reduce brittleness and limpness and to increase body and shine in numerous studies.
  • Helianthus annuus/Sunflower Seed Oil is an emollient and occlusive agent that is used in a number of natural skin and hair care products.  The secret to its efficacy is that sunflower seed oil contains about 60% linoleic acid, which is incorporated into lipids within the skin and prevents water loss from the hair.

Safety: If you have particularly sensitive skin, you may not wish to use Kerastase Nutritive Masquintense or any other product with hydrolyzed wheat protein, because it has been shown to cause contact dermatitis in susceptible patients in a significant number of studies, including in the journal Allergy.

The product also contains parabens, which we have found to be safe in the concentrations they are found in skin care and beauty products.  Popular dermatologists like Dr. Katie Rodan (of Rodan+Fields) and Dr. Leslie Baumann agree with us.  However, if you choose not to use parabens, then avoid Kerastase Nutritive Masquintense.

Lastly, Kerastase Nutritive Masquintense contains citrus oils, which can make the skin and hair more sensitive to the sun.  Be sure to use this product with a hair sunscreen – or, better yet, at night!  I’ve been known to put Kerastase Nutritive Masquintense on my hair and do some chores around the house.  After an hour, my hair is ready to rinse, and silky smooth!

Ingredients:  Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Glycerin, Amodimethicone, Cetyl Esters, Isopropyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Trideceth-6, Glyceryl Linoleate, Helianthus annuus/Sunflower Seed Oil, Glyceryl Oleate, Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Hexyl Cinnamal, Cintronellol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Coumarin, Geraniol, Safflower Glucoside, Glyceryl Linolenate, Parfum/Fragrance

2.)  David Babaii Bohemian Beach Spray

The Science Behind Blake Lively's Hair - David Babaii Bohemian Beach Spray

Johnson says, “This beach spray isn’t sticky and gives Blake a lot of lift at her roots. Then I lift her hair up with a Mason Pearson brush and blow dry the roots to create volume.”

We say:  Yes for those with thick hair, no for those with thin hair.  I tried David Babaii Bohemian Beach Spray and it left my straight, medium-thickness, long-length hair a little too piecey and crunchy for my own taste.  However, my friend with thick, curly hair said it left her hair “sexy” and “beachy.”

Ingredients-wise, the silicones are lightweight enough for everyone, but it’s the shea butter and Theobroma grandiflorum seed butter that make it much too much for those with thinner hair types.

Safety:  There is some concern that triethanolamine can form nitrosamines when it is used in conjunction with nitrosating agents.  However, the FDA and Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel found it to be safe in concentrations of up to 5% in leave-on products [Read more:  Spotlight On:  Triethanolamine]

We do not see problems with the ingredients in the concentrations they are used in David Babaii Bohemian Beach Spray.

Ingredients:  Water, Isopropyl Myristate, Triethanolamine, Acrylamide/Sodium, Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Spirulina Platensis Extract, Cyclopentasiloxane, Phenoxyethanol, Phenyltrimethicone, PVP, Benzyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Arctium Lappa Root Extract, Hedera Helix Extract (Ivy), Trigonella Foenum Graecum Seed Extract, Panthenol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter, Butylene Glycol, Algae Extract, Mangifera Indica Fruit Extract (Mango), Actinidia Chinensis Fruit Extract (Kiwi), Urtica Dioica Extract (Nettle), Equisetum Hiemale Extract, Orchis Mascula Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract (Cucumber), Hedychium Coronarium Root Extract, Zingiber Officinale Leaf Extract (Ginger), Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract (Rosemary), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (Oat), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydroolyzed Wheat Starch, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Wheat Amino Acids, Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Fragrance/Parfum, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Ceteth 20, Carbomer

3.)  Kérastase Lait Nutri-Sculpt for Blow Dry Protection

The Science Behind Blake Lively’s Hair - Kérastase Lait Nutri-Sculpt

Blow-drying is damaging for the hair because it is hitting the hair when it is wet – a thoroughly weakened state. My mother, a former beautician, used to always tell me to imagine the hair like a piece of lace. When the lace is moistened, it certainly is easy to realize that it is weaker and more susceptible to damage.

When you are blow drying your hair, three things happen:  it weakens internal hair proteins; it decomposes melanin (pigment); and it damages the hair fiber’s external surface (Journal of Cosmetic Science, 1995).  However, thermal hair products help because they provide a layer between the hair and the heat.  In the case of Kerastase Nutri Sculpt, it’s the polyquaternium 4, which has been shown to have cationic (positively-charged) properties that prevent static build-up, as well as forming bonds between hair strands that will help to redistribute the heat (Textbook of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2004).

As such, always towel-dry with a super-absorbent towel first, air-dry if possible, and then apply Kerastase Nutri Sculpt.

Safety:  We believe all the ingredients in Kerastase Nutri Sculpt are safe in these concentrations.

Ingredients:  Aqua/Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Propylene Glycol, Dimethiconol, Laureth 23, Laureth 4, Dimethicone Copolyol, Phenoxyethanol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Carbomer, Potato Starch Modified, Polyquaternium 4, Aminomethyl Propanol, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Methylparaben

4.)  Mason Pearson Brush

The Science Behind Blake Lively’s Hair - Mason Pearson Brush

Believe it or not, there is a science to hair brushing.   The rules cosmetic scientists have found:

  • The thinner the hair, the wider the spacing between bristles needs to be.  More hair is grabbed with each stroke of the brush, allowing for more volume.  On the other hand, this “volume” looks like “static” to those with already thick hair.
  • The longer the hair, the bigger the brush needs to be.  Again, using this same reasoning:  Long hair means you want to use fewer strokes for less static.
  • If your hair is shoulder-length or shorter, forgo the boar bristle in place of a round nylon ball-tipped brush. Those little nylon ball tips provide greater resistance and introduce less static into your hair.  (And, as a bonus, is great for styling).
  • Cost matters.  We don’t say this often on FutureDerm, but cheap boar bristles are from domesticated boars, with very soft hair.  You need hard boar bristles for optimal redistribution of oils in the hair.  Invest in a high-quality boar bristle brush, like the Mason Pearson.  [Read more: Is a Boar Bristle Brush Good or Bad For Your Hair?]

The Mason Pearson Boar Bristle & Nylon Hair Brush is ideal for normal to thick hair of long to extra-long length.

Bottom Line

Sure, genetics plays a role, but Blake Lively’s hair is also a nod to using the right products.  We especially love the Kérastase Masquintense for weekly use, the heat-styling product before blow drying, and the Mason Pearson Boar Bristle & Nylon Hair Brush with a large paddle and small spaces between bristles for long, thick hair like Blake’s.

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