Monday, January 2, 2023

Flash-Drying in Hair: What is it and what to do about it?

January 2, 2023

When I did hair analyses, people asked about flash-drying often. Our approach to this subject seems to be from one of two directions. Either, “What products cause this?” Or, “What hair type does this happen to most often?”


What it is:  Flash-drying is what some people call the effect of your hair drying almost immediately after washing (and conditioning). As though it did not absorb any water at all. It may not be all the hair - only some sections, or individual locks here and there.


What does flash-dried hair feel like? It can feel dry, stiff, crunchy, coated, sound rustle-y, stick together in small sections, or feel “matted” and like it wants to cling together when wet or dry.


Why?:  Products that adhere to hair, particularly those that form certain sorts of films, whether by design (it’s a hair-care active ingredient) or by default (it’s part of a plant extract or oil) can interfere with how hair interacts with water. Those actions may prevent water from absorbing - so hair seems to shed water like a duck’s feathers.


Whose hair?: Just about anybody’s! Hardly satisfying, I know. If your hair is low-porosity, it doesn’t soak up water or react well to oils and conditioners, this may happen more easily to you. Tellingly, if the top of your hair is more-porous than the under-layers, you might notice that your under-layers sometimes flash-dry but the top layers do not.


Coarse hair, and Coarse, kinking (Type 4) hair may sometimes be more susceptible to this. Gray hairs may also be susceptible, in that they are often (not always) low porosity and sometimes less flexible than more-pigmented hairs. Both Coarse hair and gray hairs are often lower-porosity.


The Wild Card is that many of the ingredients in question form films because they have electrostatic charges. And while human hair has more negative charges on the surface than positive charges - it does have both, meaning a lot of “things” can bond with/stick to hair. If you have hard water, you already have minerals “stuck” to, and in your hair - those minerals may also interact with products - or at least can often give hair a little stiffness that will make you notice product-related stiffness more readily.  Because each of us is different - each of our hair will interact with products differently. Your products can have overlapping effects or cumulative effects, too. That, “This was great the first time I used it, but now my hair feels dry and tangly!” phenomenon.



What ingredients may cause this: 

Category 1) 
Film Formers (examples)
  • Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
  • Polyquaternium-10
  • Polyquaternium-11
  • Polyquaternium-4
  • Polyquaternium-69 (maybe)
  • Salts (sea salt products)
  • Agave
  • Herbal extracts, teas (black, green or herbal), henna and henna blends
  • xanthan (which is made from bacteria, but I’m putting it here anyway), Psyllium
  • Proteins or plant extracts containing plant proteins. Including Hydroxypropyltrimonium-modified proteins (some that promise anti-frizz or volume, like rice protein, are especially tricky)
Category 2)
Oils and butters 

(Particularly when used alone - oils incorporated in products makes it harder to decode what is the oil vs. the product as a whole)


Oils and butters are made from a variety of fatty acids. Butters, with their higher saturated fatty acid content, are more likely to physically accumulate on hair because they melt at high temperatures - They don’t liquefy for easier washing at comfortable shower temperatures. And they also penetrate hair better - which is great unless that produces an undesirable result in your hair. 


Category 3)
Other
  • Soap (real soap made with oils and alkali): Contains oils which may interact with hair. Also can combine with minerals in water to adhere to hair.
  • Hard water - Minerals can bond to hair and move into hair. I have a post here about hard water
  • Pool water - Minerals can bond to hair and move into hair, including those used to manage the pool
  • Sweat: Loaded with salts, proteins, and sugars, and usually combined with heat and  extended period of time wearing wet hair, sweat can contribute to flash-drying.

What to do? 

Avoid first, problem-solve later. Change 1 or 2 things at a time. Address the obvious stuff first.


For example, let’s say you used a new shampoo once and a new gel twice, and now your hair feels matted and stiff and dry. Default back to a shampoo that did not cause you problems, and don’t use that gel either. Formulate a plan.


Then add back either 1) the shampoo or 2) the gel. See what happens. Then switch. Once you understand how both work alone, try them together (unless it’s already clear that will make you and your hair very cranky).


We want to know:

1) Are those products a problem when used alone?

2) Are those products a problem when used more than once in a row?

3) Are those products a problem only when used together?


Sometimes a product that seems like a complete failure will be fine (even fantastic) if you are careful how you use it.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Conditioner Bases - Where The Fun Starts

November, 2022 

A lot of time we focus on active ingredients or “featured” ingredients in conditioners. Oils, herbal extracts, butters, proteins. Or on promised benefits like anti-frizz or smoothing or volumizing. Which is fine when that works for you. 

Those are the chocolate chips in the cookie, or the icing on the cake. The marketing device to grab the customer's attention.


But you know how a less-than-tasty or unpleasantly-textured background of cookie or cake, can make the cookie or cake a lot less enjoyable.The same applies to hair conditioners. The base, that simple, creamy-textured, boring background into which the splashier, featured, active ingredients are added, can make or break a product’s suitability for your hair, or your goals for a particular product.


A conditioner base usually consists of two things:

1) A fatty alcohol - which are opaque, oil-derived solids as raw ingredients and when blended into a conditioner, add softness, thicken a product’s texture, and can create different after-feel in the hair, such as “powdery-soft” or “helps pull hairs together.”

2) Cationic conditioner - the anti-static ingredient that can bond (temporarily) to hair to reduce friction and create lots of different results, depending on the ingredient.


I hope by understanding how much the “base” of the product determines how it performs in your hair, you’ll be better informed to understand why a product does what it does.


Fatty Alcohols and other creamy softeners/thickeners: These ingredients are not drying alcohols, the word “alcohol” is a result of how chemists name the ingredient based on how the molecule is structured. 

Examples: 

Cetyl alcohol

Cetearyl alcohol

Stearyl alcohol 

Myristyl alcohol

Behenyl alcohol

Lauryl alcohol

Cetyl palmitate

Cetearyl (or Cetyl) ethylhexanoate


I love tables - so I’m giving you a table with some ingredients that are common conditioner bases. Mostly common - and some less-common - cationic conditioners or combination ingredients. Along the top are featured characteristics of those ingredients. This is based on data provided by ingredient manufacturers. They’re marketing a product - which implies bias. But they do conduct testing to assure the ingredients have the desired effect in a standard product. There is quite a lot of research and development behind hair-care product development.


I think if you know the product-base and it’s essential character - what it’s good at doing and what it isn’t - it’s easier to understand a product.


For example, if you have thin or fine/silky hair, you might love Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine-based conditioners. They help detangle, but also add some “grip” to dry hair and some volumizing. If you have thick or coarse hair - the same product-base (especially as a leave-in conditioner) might make hair feel dry, coated or dirty.


Cationic conditioning ingredient

Detangling: Wet hair

Detangling: Dry hair

Volume

Shine

Grip (keeps curls from “sliding out”)

Static control/Flyaways

Smooth/stay straight, add weight

Preserve color

Anti-frizz

Behentrimonium chloride

X

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

Behentrimonium methosulfate

X

 

x

 

 

X

X

 

 

Behentrimonium methosulfate and Quaternium-71

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Cetrimonium bromide

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Cetrimonium chloride

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Cocodimoniumhydroxypropyl     
hydrolyzed wheat (barley, vegetable, etc., protein

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Dicetyldimonium chloride

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

Dipalmitoylethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate 

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

Distearyldimonium chloride

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

Disunfloweroylethyl Dimonium Chloride, Sunflower Seed Oil Glycerides, Lauryl Lactyl Lactate

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

Methoxy PEG/PPG-7/3 Aminopropyl Dimethicone 

X

 

X

X

 

 

X

 

 

Polyquaternium-55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Palmitamidopropyltrimonium chloride

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

Polyquaternium-10 and PG Hydroxyethylcellulose Cocodimonium Chloride

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

Stearamidopripyl dimethylamine, Babassuamidopropyl Dimethylamine,

Brassicamidopropyl Dimethylamine

 

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

Quaternium-87

 

 

X

 

X

X

 

X

 

Quaternium-88

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Quaternium-91,  Cetrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

X