The Best Products for Removing Silicone Buildup in Hair

Removing Silicone Buildup in Hair

Silicone buildup is actually a very simple problem to solve. Many hair products contain both silicones and quaternary ammonium compounds, which bond with hair to create a protective layer. Unfortunately, as we know, these ingredients can also create buildup in hair. For some people, products with these ingredients don’t give them buildup problems, but for those who have trouble, there are several recommendations.

One of the things many people recommend is a “clarifying” shampoo. But it’s not so much about the label of clarifying as it is about the ingredients. As it turns out, you don’t need special shampoo to reduce buildup.

Silicone and Quaternary Ammonium Compound Buildup

Silicone Buildup

Silicones and quats will buildup in hair, particularly if you condition without washing every time (or, co-wash). While silicones tend to bind best to healthy hair, quats — which are the same compounds found in fabric softener — bind well with damaged hair (Washington PostJournal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists).

Before getting into how to handle silicone buildup, it’s important to know a few things about it. Silicones and quats won’t buildup indefinitely. You only have so much hair and that hair only has so much surface space. So while buildup may leave you with hair that feels greasy or heavy, it doesn’t mean that you’ve done any permanent damage.

As far as removing silicones from hair, one study found that washing once with a non-silicone-containing shampoo could remove up to 90% of the residue from a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology).

[Read More: Are Silicones in Hair Products Good or Bad?]

Why You Want Some Silicone to Stick

Of course when you wash you want some silicone to stick — after all, that’s why they’re included in conditioners. But there may be other reasons besides making hair softer and easier to brush through, there’s also the matter of those with severely damaged or dyed hair.

When your hair is damaged, the cuticle opens. This is the first line of defense in protecting your hair and acts as a barrier. When its open, hair is susceptible to more damage, like split-ends and moisture loss (Journal of Cosmetic Science). This opening of the cuticle can happen with damaging activities like thermal styling, but also with some surfactants in shampoos.

Silicones and quats form a protective barrier that helps to keep hair from further damage. They can also help extend the life of a dye, as researchers have found that dyed hair treated with quats loses less dye than hair that was not treated with quats (Journal of the Society for Cosmetic Chemists). Essentially, these act as a seal on your hair that can keep damage out and dye in — so using quats and silicones are most necessary for people with damaged and dyed hair.

I personally really like the Nioxin Intensive Therapy Deep Repair Hair Masque. And there’s also Alterna the Science of 10 Hair Masque ($40.95, amazon.com).

Nioxin Intensive Therapy Deep Repair Hair Masque

Surfactants are Hair’s Fickle Friend

Surfactants are what give shampoo its suds and they serve as excellent cleaning agents. They’re the best ingredients to remove silicone and quat buildup. The best surfactants for removing silicone are: Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, Sodium C14-17 Alkyl Sulfonate (Olefin Sulfonate), or Cocoamidopropyl Betaine (Naturally Curly).

That said surfactants have a downside. The best surfactants — like sodium lauryl sulfate — have also been shown to irritate skin. In fact, sodium lauryl sulfate is used in patch tests to look at the barrier function of skin (Cosmetic Dermatology). And the less powerful the surfactant — primarily those that aren’t sulfates — will work, but not quite as well at taking the silicone from your hair.

If you’re concerned about finding a shampoo without sodium lauryl sulfate, consider Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Shampoo and Conditioner. Another option is New York Streets Shampoo and Conditioner.

Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Shampoo and Conditioner

[Read More: Spotlight On: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate]

Bottom Line

Hair greatly benefits from quats and silicones because they can do wonders in regards to protecting hair from damage and act as a protective measure. Unfortunately, they can also cause buildup, which makes hair lackluster and greasy. The remedy for this is simply surfactants, despite some recommendations about clarifying shampoos. Unfortunately, surfactants can sometimes be harsh and drying.

Some people have more difficult than others with silicone buildup and surfactants, so it’s important to find the balance and hair care that works for you.

Contributing author: Natalie Bell

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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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Why I Love Living Proof Full Thickening Hair Care

Living Proof Full Thickening Hair Care

I often see pictures of Asian supermodels like Lily Zhi (shown above), or gorgeous women like Jane Seymour, and I’m envious.  Though I’m Asian and have waist-length hair, my hair is lifeless and limp when straight, and flat at the crown when curled – not the kind of hair that is going to launch any ships anytime soon.

I’ve taken hair vitamins, I’ve gotten layers, I’ve paid experts to cut my hair (sometimes well into the hundreds), and yet, still nothing.  That is, until I tried Living Proof “Full” Hair Care.  Developed by MIT scientists, Living Proof Full actually thickens hair at the microscopic level.  Here’s how it works:

Polyfluoroesters

Living Proof Full Thickening Hair Care

The secret of Living Proof Full is an ingredient called poly beta amino ester-1, a polyfluoroester.  This patented ingredient coats each hair shaft.  Once dried, polyfluoroesters on adjacent hair strands grab at each other, but leave spaces between each strand.  Think of it like tiny, thick magnets on your hair:  they bind, but they create space – and hence lift – for your hair.

How Much Fullness to Expect

Living Proof Full Thickening Hair Care

Source:  LivingProof website

As with any other product, Living Proof Full will only make your hair as big as you style it to be.  I, for one, adore big voluminous wavy hair (see below), so I use the Living Proof Full system before I curl my hair with sponge rollers nightly, and then seal with the Living Proof Hold Flexible Hair Spray ($19.99, Amazon.com) come morning.  On the other hand, some of my friends adore a sleeker, straighter look.  For them, Living Proof Full makes a visual 20-30% increase in hair thickness, with no teasing or hair-setting necessary.

How Much Product to Use

Living Proof Full Thickening Hair Care

Intuition may tell you that more thickening ingredient would mean thicker hair, but this is not the case.  Keep in mind that Living Proof Full was formulated for about a quarter-size amount of shampoo, conditioner [from chin-length downward], and thickening cream for an average-size woman with hair going down to her shoulders.  If you apply too much Living Proof Full, particularly the Thickening Cream, the silicones in the product can actually overcome the effect of the polyfluoroesters, weighing hair down a bit.  On the other hand, if you don’t apply enough, you won’t see as much effect.  The best option is to play around with the system a bit and find what amounts work best for you.

Does it smell?

Ever since I used Herbal Essences as a teenager, I’ve been obsessed with the scent of a hair care system.  (I don’t think I could recommend even a highly scientific hair care product if it was malodorous!)  Thankfully, Living Proof Full is one of the best-smelling hair care systems I’ve tried, a light floral blend with fruity notes mixed in.  I use Chanel Chance eau tendre as my daily perfume, and the scent blends magnificently with Living Proof Full.  Unfortunately, Living Proof Full is rather fragrant, and you may not find it blends as well with your daily perfume.  I suppose one woman’s selling point could be another’s deal-breaker!

Bottom Line

Living Proof Full Thickening Hair Care

I’m a huge fan of Living Proof Full, and I recommend it to anyone with fine, limp, or straight hair who is looking for a voluminous boost.  It also leaves your hair feeling light, shiny, and bouncy, in addition to nice and fragrant – I honestly can’t say enough good stuff about this line!  Now, if only Living Proof would create a UV protectant spray and a heat-protectant spray…

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What is the Difference Between At-Home and Professional Hair Dye?

At-Home vs. Professional Hair Dye

At-home haircoloring now is not what it was 10 years ago.

The major difference between store-bought and salon color is that a professional colorist mixes shades to give your hair depth, says Aura Friedman, who works with Lady Gaga. “Your color should always be a half shade lighter at the hairline and get darker toward the back,” adds John. How to accomplish this yourself? Buy two different shades (your true color and one level lighter) and mix a tablespoon of each together for the half-inch area around your face for a brightening effect. Then use your true color on the remainder of your hair to avoid having it look flat, according to Harper’s Bazaar.

They tend to have a very high volume of peroxide so that they can easily lighten even much darker hair.

The main difference between at home hair dyes and salon ones – from a formula point of view is that at home ones are already “matched-up” meaning the color and the developer are already given and you just mix them. For salon ones the stylist has more control on what developer strength to use therefore they can mix colors and control how they come out. Your stylist could have declined to dye your hair because she/he did not know how the at home dye would interact with the salon one. It could also have been for not damaging your hair – it depends how long before, you had colored your hair at home. There can be multiple reasons.

I NEVER use just one color, I create a formula often using 2 or 3 colors that gives you the best results. I can  adjust that formula based on the condition of your hair. I also have different techniques for applying color based on your hair condition. Applying color to hair in great condition is completely different from applying color to hair that has been damaged or is very porous. I care about the condition of your hair and want to make it look great and feel great. Over a period of time professional color will still have your hair feeling healthy while long term box color use tends to dry hair and leave it looking dull.

Some other factors in the debate between box color and professional color is the actual application process. Once the color and developer are mixed there is a time frame in which the color is applied and allowed to process. I can color your hair much faster and more thoroughly that you can yourself. I won’t miss spots on the back of your head and if for some reason I run out I can mix up more right on the spot. And if when we’re all done and the shade isn’t quite what you wanted we can adjust it with a toner right there. As a professional i always want my clients to leave completely satisfied with the color and the service and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.

However, you can go to Sally’s Beauty Supply and buy tubes of color and separate developer and get what you want. But you have to know what you are doing. In my Sally’s stores, the help is completely useless. I have always been told to never take their advice on coloring because they don’t know what they are doing.Nowadays I go to Sally and get my Ion haircolor and their developer for sensitive scalps which is a charm. Ion also has a fantastic conditioner. I color my hair at home once a month. It is cost-effective. 

 However, if your hair is damaged, breaking, splitting, and not shiny then there is clearly something wrong. 

What I tell my clients that insist on coloring themselves is to choose one shade and stick with it. Changing the color leads to unattractive “banding”. Also, try to stay within 2 or 3 levels of your natural color. Anything more and you’re likely to get into some trouble. 

the quality and quantity of dye/bleach used by a salon is much higher and lower, respectively, than drugstore brands. An accomplished colorist should be able to acheive exactly what you want without a damaging amount of dye/bleach – something that can’t always be said for do-it-yourself versions.

Another important thing to mention is that there is no reason to lie to your stylist about what is currently in your hair. I can’t do a complete job if i don’t have all the information. The most common client fib is “there isn’t any color in my hair”. This creates all kinds of problems and can waste your time and mine. Quick fact-color cannot lift color which means if you have already colored your hair at some point I can’t just put more color on to make it lighter, that requires a lightening process. It will cost you more money and possibly do needless damage to your hair.

Don’t forget at home care is important to color and making it last. If you are going to color your hair you need to use a shampoo and conditioner made for color treated hair. They are more delicate on the hair, help to seal in the color and protect from fading. There are a lot of color safe shampoos but the one I recommend the most AND use myself is Redken Color Extend. It is the best I have found and all my color clients swear by it as well.

So which cleansing agents are best avoided?  When shopping for shampoo, these cleansing ingredients best avoided due to their potential drying, stripping effect on hair:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (sodium laureth sulfate is fine);
  • Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate;
  • TEA-dodecylbenzene;
  • Alkyl sodium sulfate;

Another tip: consider color depositing shampoos & conditioners, like those sold from John Frieda. Don’t expect miracles, but these can help improve the lifespan of your dye-job somewhat (but beware: these can make a mess of your towels.)

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Why You Should Never Use a Lemon on Your Hair

Why You Should Never Use a Lemon on Your Hair

As natural and organic products continue to become more mainstream, home remedies keep on popping up as well. Yet, as I have pointed out in my articles about the dangers of the apple cider vinegar and baking soda hair cleansing method and natural products in general, some of these methods from the kitchen can be breeding grounds for irritation, inefficacy, and even bacterial and fungal infections.

lemons8

One of these methods that is super popular in the summer is applying lemon to your hair for all-over lightening or highlighted streaks. While lemon does effectively lighten the hair, there are some little-known concerns you should keep in mind:

1.) Lemon will affect hair dye’s ability to penetrate the hair.

6-27 illustrations-2-05

Boxed hair dye essentially works in three simple steps: First, the hair cuticle is opened using an alkaline (high pH) solution. Next, hair color is applied. Because the cuticle has already been opened, the hair color can penetrate to the hair’s inner cortex, where it can react with the hair’s pigment molecules to produce a color change.  Lastly, acidic solutions are applied to help reseal the cuticle.

6-27 illustrations-2-01

However, if lemon is applied, its acidity will affect hair dye’s ability to penetrate the hair. Lemon has a very low, highly acidic pH – 2 – acidifying subsequent solutions applied, making it harder to open the cuticle. If youmust use lemon, take care to wash your hair thoroughly before applying any hair dyes.

2.) Lemon makes the hair thinner.

6-27 illustrations-2-04

Almost everyone I speak to wants thicker hair.  Thickening agents typically work in one of three ways (also shown above):

  • Penetrate the hair shaft, filling it. This is the way that many hair thickening agents work. For instance, cosmetic giant L’Oréal has the Fiberceutic line ($20.99, Amazon.com), which fills the hair with Intra-Cylane™, a flexible soft fiber.  Intra-Cylane™ deposits in the hair as water evaporation takes place.  It is designed to help reinforce the protective keratin layer of hair. 
  • Penetrate the hair shaft, causing it to swell. Many hair care products with alcohol will partially penetrate the hair shaft and cause a temporary “swelling.”
  • Create increased spaces between each hair. This is the way that the Living Proof Full Thickening products work; they use substances called fluoroesters that create small spaces in-between each hair. The fluoroesters stick to one another loosely, like Post-It notes. To the naked eye, this makes hair appear fuller and thicker.

However, lemon is the opposite. Lemon’s acidity causes the hair shaft to shrink, resulting in a decreased diameter to the microscope and flat, limp hair to the naked eye. Not cool.

3.) Lemon makes the hair drier.

6-27 illustrations-2-02

6-27 illustrations-2-03

Lemon lightens the hair primarily because it increases hair’s sensitivity to the sun (JMCPP, 2010). As UV light hits the hair, it destroys melanin within your hair. Lemon accelerates the rate of this reaction, acting as what is known as a catalyst.

Because lemon enhances the sun’s ability to degrade melanin, it also affects other interactions of the sun with your hair as well. For instance, the sun is capable of drying the hair by stripping it of essential oils. Lemon only enhances this interaction, resulting in drier hair.

Why You Should Never Use a Lemon on Your Hair

When UV light hits your skin, it also destroys the melanin within your skin. Unlike hair that is made of dead cells, the skin is able to react. In response to destroyed melanin, the skin reflexively produces more melanin, resulting in a tan (if you’re lucky) or sunspots (if you’re not). Hair just remains with its destroyed melanin.

Bottom Line

Why You Should Never Use a Lemon on Your Hair

Food you ingest should be kept natural and organic, but what you apply to your skin is a different story. Some natural and organic compounds, like lemon, can do far more harm than synthetic hair treatments. With a pH of 2, lemon is a chemical that acts as a catalyst in the reaction between your hair and the sun, resulting in thinner, drier strands. And unlike many new synthetic dyes, where hairstylists can “turn off” the pigment-degrading reactions with a specially-formulated rinse, you can’t do that with lemons. So your hair keeps getting fried, time and time again. Do yourself a favor and find a new hair lightener!

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Do You Need to Do a Daily Scalp Massage?

Do Scalp Massages Work FutureDerm

I am a firm believer that anything great is made of small daily disciplines, repeated daily. Things like working out, writing blog posts, formulating new products, spending time with my friends and family, and washing my face before bed are all some of mine.

But every time you turn around, it seems companies are coming up with new daily disciplines that you must do. Like scalp massage: It sounds believable, but does it really work? And how? And what products do you need to use? Here, I get to the bottom of this:

How Does Scalp Massage Work?

In India, scalp massage has been incorporated into therapeutic practice for about 5,000 years as part of ayurvedic medicine [source: Osborn].

Although further research is necessary to formally define the benefits of massage, some studies have shown that massage can increase the production of certain chemicals in the body, includin [source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine]. These chemicals can help put you in a better mood, reducing your stress and creating an environment for relaxation.

Scalp massage also can relieve pain by improving circulation and removing muscle tension [sources: WebMD]. This can be especially helpful if you have a migraine or headache. Migraines are sometimes caused by a decrease in serotonin levels; scalp massage may be able to increase serotonin levels and relieve pain. Headaches, on the other hand, may be caused by muscle tension, which a scalp massage can also alleviate [sources: Mayo Clinic].

Does Scalp Massage Stimulate Hair Growth?

FutureDerm Hair Cycle

The results of a randomized, seven month trial used to investigate the effectiveness of aromatherapy in the treatment of people with alopecia areata were reported in the Archives of Dermatology in 1998. The study, conducted by Isabelle C. Hay, Margaret Jamieson and Anthony D. Ormerod in the Department of Dermatology at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in Scotland, United Kingdom, involved 86 people, all of whom had been diagnosed with alopecia areata, a condition in which hair loss is apparent on some or all parts of the human body, particularly the scalp.

The participants in the study were divided into two groups. The first group, referred to as the active group, received a daily massage for hair loss over a period of seven months. The essential oils of lavender, cedarwood, thyme, and rosemary in a blend of the carrier oils of jojoba and grapeseed were massaged into the people’s scalps in the first group. The second group, referred to as the control group, received daily massages with only the carrier oils of jojoba and grapeseed over the same time period.

Hay and Ormerod then set about evaluating the success of massage for hair loss using computerized analysis of the traced areas of hair loss shown in the photographs they had taken throughout the study. They also used a six-point scale to measure the effectiveness of massage for hair loss in the two groups. Hay et al. witnessed an improvement in 44% of the 43 patients making up the active group. In contrast, the same could only be said for 15% of the 41 patients allocated to the control group. The results of this study indicate that massage for hair loss with essential oils is an effective treatment for the condition of alopecia areata.

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Best of FutureDerm: How to Fix Your Winter Skin Blues

How to Fix Your Winter Skin Blues

It’s the end of January, and it seems as though the end of winter isn’t even in our radar quite yet; much of the United States has seen record-breaking lows as arctic blasts just keep pelting us with snow storms and negative wind chills. As if going out into the bitter cold wasn’t enough, now our skin is taking hit after hit, leaving us flaky, dry skin. So how should you deal? Below, we outline some of our bests to help your skin through this tumultuous winter.

Winter Skin Care: How to Take Care of Your Dry Skin

How Should You Take Care of Your Skin in the Winter?: An Interview with Glenn Kolansky, M.D.

According to Dr. Kolansky, your skin is dryer in the winter because the cold weather causes your blood vessels to constrict, resulting in less blood flow to your skin’s surface. And the changes in temperature between your warm home or office and the bitter outdoors causes an additional loss of moisture. In this exclusive interview, Dr. Kolansky outlines some of the major parts of caring for your skin in the winter.

UV-Protection Still Important in Winter: Sunglasses and Sunscreen Still Matter

Yes, we always harp on our readers to wear sunscreen every day, no matter if it’s rain, snow, or shine. And this stern lecture can always be heard around the office between employees, especially when a certain employee told Nicki that she feels less guilty about forgetting her sunscreen because our office doesn’t have windows (not naming any names, here!).

Regardless, UV protection is still a threat, even though the rays aren’t as strong in the winter. But you should still be wearing sun protection (sunscreen and sunglasses), especially if you’re a winter sports enthusiast – UV radiation increases by 4-5% every 1000 feet above sea level. Additionally, snow can reflect UV radiation and cause photokeratisis, a temporary blindness that can occur when you spend a lot of time around reflective surfaces, such as snow or sand.

6 Skin Mistakes to Avoid This Winter

Winter weather is rough on your skin, and it’s definitely tough to take the right steps to care for it, especially when a hot shower just feels oh so right. Unfortunately, if you’re taking too much time in the hot shower, you’re stripping your skin of its natural moisture as hot water is more likely to break down the lipid barrier in your skin.

Glycation: How Sugar Ages Your Skin (Video)

This might not be a dry skin-saver, but it’s still relevant; with Valentine’s Day fast approaching and the promise of the candy-filled clearance section of your local drugstore (no judgement here), eating an excess of the sweet stuff may actually cause your skin to age faster. In a process called glycation, the excess sugar will break down the collagen in your skin, causing sagging, dull, and thinning skin. If you’re going to indulge, do so with moderation.

[Read More: What is Glycation? Do You Need Anti-Glycation Skin Care?]

Three Things You Can Do for Dry Hair

Your skin isn’t the only thing to suffer from those cold winter winds! As important as it is to dry your hair during the winter (wouldn’t want you going out with a head of wet hair!), be careful about how you apply your heat. Use your heat gradually by starting at the lowest setting and working your way up to a warm (not the hottest, please!) setting. Be sure to hold your hair dryer about six inches away from your head to decrease the damage to both your scalp and your hair. And be sure to skip the heat tools if you don’t need them.

What Are the Best Treatments for Keratosis Pilaris (KP)? 

If you have the gene for KP, your skin can produce excess keratin (protein) when it is exposed to cold or dry weather, which is pretty much the definition of winter. Normally, the keratin lays flat against your skin, but when produced in excess, it begins to clog the hair follicle, resulting in those painless, reddish bumps on your cheeks, arms, or legs. If this is something you suffer from, try using a product with chemical exfoliators (like AHAs or salicylic acid) to slough away the excess keratin.

Now That You Know What to Do, Here Are Some Products to Help!

Lips: Carmex, Chapstick Hydration Lock

Carmex ($6.99/3-pack, amazon.com) is a great choice for a short-term solution. It soothes painful chapped lips with its inclusion of camphor and menthol, and its moisturizing capabilities come from petrolatum, mineral oil, beeswax, and a host of many others. Additionally, it contains salicylic acid to help exfoliate for soft, kissable lips. But don’t use this too often, as the menthol can irritate your skin with repeated use.

[Read More: My 2 Favorite Drugstore Lip Balms for Super Dry Lips]

Chapstick Hydration Lock ($35.99/12-pack, amazon.com) contains the occlusive moisturizer petrolatum, which prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL) by forming a protective layer on your skin. It also contains sodium hyaluronate, which attracts moisture from the surrounding environment to provide 1000x its weight in hydration.

[Read More: ChapStick Hydration Lock Review: A New ChapStick Addition to Keep Your Lips Moisturized]

Face: Obagi Medical Hydrate Facial MoisturizerFutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5

Aside from containing the ever-favorite glycerin, Obagi Medical Hydrate Facial Moisturizer ($30, amazon.com) contains mango and shea butter, two emollients known for their hydrating properties. Shea butter is also a humectant moisturizer, which helps to draw water from the environment. If a humectant isn’t paired with an occlusive agent, it can draw water from your skin as well, but with the inclusion of the occlusive avocado oil, this moisture is sure to stay.

[Read More: Obagi Medical Hydrate Facial Moisturizer Review: Great for Dry Skin]

If you’re new to the retinol game, it’s best to start in the winter; retinol smooths mottled skin, increases skin firmness, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production. Because it can sensitize your skin, it’s best to use at night (and apply sunscreen in the morning, of course) to avoid maximized UV damage. What’s great about the FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 ($55, futurederm.com) is that 1. it’s micro-encapsulated, so it’s a gentle delivery that lasts for up to eight hours and 2. it’s a gel formula, so you can apply your favorite moisturizer after application (or skip it if you have oily skin).

Hands: Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream

This is a great cream if you have especially dry hands and are looking for something a little different than your general drugstore products. Glycerin is a pretty standard deal when it comes to moisturizers; it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water (like hyaluronic acid) and protects your skin against TEWL. But what it mostly comes down to when looking at hand creams is how they feel. Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream ($25, amazon.com) is thick, but still absorbs quickly to leave your hands feeling soft and smooth without a touch of greasiness.

[Read More: Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream Review]

Bottom Line

Winter can be particularly harsh on your skin, and it can be difficult to know exactly how to care for it during these cold months. But if you follow some of the tips above, it shouldn’t be long before you’re rocking soft, touchable skin – in spite of that arctic chill!

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Is Wen Hair Care Really Better than the Rest?

Wen Hair Care

Wen Hair Care promises to deliver your hair lots of shine, body, and bounce with, and I quote, “the perfect blend of herbs and natural ingredients.” As a scientist, this claim immediately makes me wonder if the products utilize the best principles in cosmetic chemistry. After all, as I have mentioned time and time again on the blog, the best and safest products aren’t necessarily always natural. Very beneficial synthetic versions of ingredients that are proven in numerous peer-reviewed studies to create a marked difference in the appearance of your skin and hair over time, like retinol, niacinamide, glycolic acid, vitamin C, and many more, are the industry standard. 
Yet, despite this suggestion that “herbs” and “natural ingredients” are the secret to better hair, I decided to keep an open mind and delve in:

Lack of Lather = Lack of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Wen Hair Care doesn’t have any lather at all. You wash your hair with the shampoo, and it feels like a cream on your hair. The reason? Most shampoos contain either sodium lauryl sulfate or aluminum laureth sulfate. While the aluminum sulfate is not as drying for your skin and hair, sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the most drying and irritating ingredients out there. According to Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Cosmetic Dermatology text, “[Sodium lauryl sulfate] is such a consistent irritator for skin with an impaired barrier that it is actually used in ‘challenge patch tests’ to evaluate the barrier function of skin…it strips the natural lipids from the skin, disrupting the barrier and rendering it more susceptible to external irritants.” Ew. So the fact that Wen Hair Care doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate? I’m down with that.

Panthenol = A Good Add

Wen Hair Care also contains panthenol. It is of note that the panthenol in this product doesn’t say “naturally-derived,” so it’s likely that the panthenol you get here is synthetic. Not that it matters; panthenol is incredible, despite the source of it.  Long famed as the key ingredient in Pantene brand products, panthenol is a form of vitamin B5 that has been found to reduce breakage with regular use over time (Drug & Cosmetics Industry).  Panthenol is strengthening  and hydrating as a humectant, an ingredient that draws in moisture from the environment (International Journal of Cosmetic Science). Panthenol also has the effect where it can draw moisture and oils up from deeper layers of your hair, such as the inner cortex, so it leaves the hair more hydrated and smooth. I like panthenol a lot; my only suggestion for Wen Hair Care would be to include more panthenol, as the concentration in most of its products is relatively low.

No Established Levels of Heat or UV Protection

When I was in high school, I used to take my time with my nighttime routine. I’d wash, tone, and use moisturizer, and put my hair into curlers. No matter how tired I was, waking up to that full volume made it worth it, all day long. Nowadays? I still am religious about skin care, but like many busy adults, I’m often dead tired at night. Which brings me to the terrors of heat styling by day. Even though I’m a scientist and know how bad heat can be for your hair, the temptation of waking up with ooo-la-la curls with just 5 minutes of twisting my hair around the curling iron often wins out. (Oh, and for the scientifically curious, I mean heat styling is BAD – studies show heat styling can lead to dry, brittle hair cuticles that later crack and cause profuse damage (The Beauty Brains, 2012)). Ugh. That said, one of the major things I look for in a hair product system is heat protection. Many of my favorite modern products contain heat-activated silicones, like NIOXIN Smoothing Reflectives Glossing Shield ($14.99, Amazon.com) and KENRA Thermal Styling Spray ($12.95, Amazon.com). These products are designed to increase the moisture in your hair, so if your heat-styling tools take down moisture by 25%, it’s better to take the moisture from hair that is supplemented with extra moisture. So if you’re convinced you want to use Wen Hair Care but don’t want to give up your heat-styling tools, make sure that you are using a large paddle brush with small-spaced bristles, and ionic drying tools. Why? Small-spaced bristles ensure that your natural hair oils are maximally distributed throughout the hair, and a large paddle ensures this is spread over a greater surface area, increasing moisture overall. And ionic drying tools will increase the drying rate of water on your hair, leading to faster drying times.

Best for Fine to Medium-Texture Hair

Wen Hair Care is best for those with fine to medium hair. Those with thick or curly hair will likely not find the level of moisturization and manageability from the glycerin and herbs in Wen Hair Care as the heavyweight silicones like dimethicone in many synthetic hair care systems. I also hate to say it, but those with thick hair that tends to be on the oily side often get a higher degree of manageability from using products with drying ingredients like thinning alcohols or sodium lauryl sulfate. Wen Hair Care certainly won’t strip your hair of moisture, which is great for us gals with fine to medium hair, but if you have oily or thick hair, you might not benefit as much.

Bottom Line

Wen Hair Care is a reasonable hair care system for those with fine to medium hair. In general, I prefer products with heat-activated ingredients that will protect from heat styling or UV damage, but at the same time, Wen Hair Care will provide hair strengthening and lightweight hydration. And if you require heat styling or UV protection, I recommend NIOXIN Smoothing Reflectives Glossing Shield ($14.99, Amazon.com) and KENRA Thermal Styling Spray ($12.95, Amazon.com). Have you used Wen Hair Care? What are your thoughts on it?

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LUSH Seanik Solid Shampoo Bar Review: Why You Should Skip It

I’ve never been one to worry about shampoo. Since I have curly hair, it’s naturally a lot drier than my straight-haired friends’, so I stick to washing it once a week (and co-wash daily) for fear of stripping it of its hard-to-acheive moisture. I usually stand by the logic that if I’m only using it once a week, then what’s the point of worrying what it’s made of?

Unfortunately, that’s not the best stance to have on this issue, especially since I don’t need something along the lines of a clarifying shampoo; I don’t use silicones in my hair, so there’s no chance of build-up. So when I stumbled upon the LUSH Seanik Solid Shampoo Bar ($11.95, lushusa.com) lurking about in our office, I just had to try it; it’s cute, smells like the beach, and seems fun. How bad could it be?

What the Science Says About the Ingredients 

The first ingredient listed raises quite the red flag: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), the infamous ingredient known for its lipid-stripping abilities. According to Leslie Baumann, M.D., SLS, it’s a well-known irritant used in patch-tests to evaluate how the skin’s barrier function will perform against the harsh chemical. It strips your skin and hair of natural oils, weakening any defenses those parts may have against future environmental damages (Cosmetic Dermatology). This is further demonstrated by researchers who studied the effects of application of a 2% SLS solution on skin, which showed that repeated application resulted in transepidermal water loss in 29 of the 34 test sites, which is indicative of a decrease in skin barrier function (JAAD). 

Next, LUSH Seanik Solid Shampoo Bar boasts the use of Chondrus crispus, also known as Irish moss gel. There isn’t much research on this type of red algae, but as far as generalities are concerned, algae extracts are known for their ability to moisturize hair, increase shine and softness, and decrease static (Dweck). Irish moss gel has been shown to produce mucilage when immersed in hot water, which lends itself to detangling your hair in the shower (The Examiner). Mostly, this is present in the formula for its stabilizing and emulsifying properties (Journal of Biomaterials Science: Polymer Edition).  

The product’s namesake lies in its inclusion of Fucus vesiculosus, also known as Nori seaweed. According to Lush, it’s used for its softening effects on hair, which makes sense as it’s composed of 40% fatty acids. These include linoleic and linolenic acids, which will protect your hair from losing moisture as well as hydrate the cuticle (Journal of Applied PhycologyCentre Clauderer). 

Does It Work?: Personal Use and Opinion

At first, I was a little confused by how the LUSH Seanik Solid Shampoo Bar is supposed to work — do I just lather it up in my hands? — so I had to consult LUSH’s website for a video. After following the website’s recommendation of rubbing it directly onto my hair, I noticed that it lathered rather well, and I didn’t need to use the bar once I got it going. The smell is great (oceans!), and I liked that it had chunks of seaweed in it, although I guess that might be a little off-putting when they actually come off of the bar.

While I thought the concept was fun and different than your average shampooing routine, I can’t said I liked the effects too much. My hair felt too squeaky-clean due to the sodium lauryl sulfate, and I could actually feel the oil of my hair being stripped away. It didn’t tangle my hair like a lot of other shampoos have, but I still wasn’t happy with the results. 

Bottom Line

The LUSH Seanik Solid Shampoo Bar is a great concept; the product is small and contained in a cute tin, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your shower. Unfortunately, its main ingredient is the lipid-stripping sodium lauryl sulfate, which means it isn’t good for your hair, even if your hair is particularly oily. Since I only wash my hair once a week, it wouldn’t really make too much of a difference in my hair’s moisture levels, but I’d still recommend staying away from this product. Instead, look for a shampoo with sodium laureth sulfate, which will clean your hair without drying out your luscious locks.

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