Sunday, July 17, 2011

Question: Why would I suggest using silicones for the co-washing method?

Anonymous asked this interesting question about co-washing or the no shampoo method in this postI happen to come across your intesting post regarding cleansing conditioner. I am currently starting the co-wash method however I sometime use products with silicones. So my questions is if I am trying to remove silicones build up then why use a silicone based conditioner like the one mentioned. (Neutrogena triple moisture daily deep conditioner) that is chock full of silicones? Wouldn't that defeat the purposes of removing silicone build up? Please explain as I am trying to educate myself on ingredients that matter so I won't make the mistake of spending money on a so called "Cleansing Conditioner" that would be pretty much the same thing as a regular condtioner that I can in my local grocery.

I've said it before and I'll say it again here, I don't know much about this method. I get the chemistry behind using just conditioners to cleanse one's hair, but I don't get the rules and regulations that seem to come with the various theories or methods. There are tons of ingredients that can cause build up, but it seems the ones to avoid are oils and silicones, or cationic polymers or cationic guar or other conditioning agents. Or maybe not. I simply don't know. For every person who asks me to justify suggesting the use of silicones for this method, someone else writes to me to tell me they love silicones. For every person who avoids oils, others swear by them. So it's really about the philosophy to which you plan to adhere, and learning more about that specific program.

So how does a cleansing conditioner differ from a normal conditioner? It doesn't. For the most part, the cleansing conditioner contains the same ingredients as a normal conditioner, although I've seen a few with very low levels of foaming surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine. I have noticed that most of the conditioners with the word "cleansing" in the title tend to stay away from silicones (although the Wen conditioner I mention below doesn't), but that might be because those I've seen also bill themselves as natural or organic. I've also noticed that a lot of them contain mint, perhaps for the tingly feeling it can leave behind? (Click here for the longer post on duplicating cleansing conditioners.)

If you can't have silicones, then get a conditioner without silicones or make your own. If you can't have oils, then avoid anything that contains oils, butters, fatty alcohols, fatty acids, and so on (or perhaps it's just normal oils - this is one area that really confuses me). You're trying an approach that requires you to do a lot of work learning and experimenting and generally spending a lot of time and energy on figuring out what your hair likes and doesn't like, and the only way you can learn more about it is to read a lot and experiment a lot. Keep really accurate notes about the various ingredients and what impact they've had on your hair. If you want to avoid something like silicones or cationic polymers, then you'll have to spend the time learning what they are, how they show up in our conditioners, and which ones can create build up (and if they do, how to remove it). I'm afraid I can't offer a one sentence answer or a rhyming couplet to remember what you can and can't have as every person is different. 

If you take a look at the post in which you made the comment, I take a look at two conditioners. One calls itself a cleansing conditioner and the other doesn't. One is expensive and one is reasonably priced. Both contain silicones. I don't actually recommend either of them - I don't recommend commercial products, I recommend making your own! - but use them as tools to explain why both would be suitable as a co-washing conditioner. 

If you are interested in this method, want to know more about how shampoo works on our hair, or just feel like reading more today, here are a few suggested posts...
How does shampoo clean our hair?
How does the no shampoo concept work?
Is shampooing necessary for our hair?
What is build up?
Duplicating the Curl Junkie Daily Fix Cleansing Conditioner

If you're on the Dish forum, then you know I'm leading a crusade to stop the shortening of shampoo to 'poo for what I think are really obvious reasons. I implore you to write those four little letters to make something we wash our hair with sound icky! 


Mychelle said...

No rhyming couplets about co-washing? Darn! I tried the Wen product and it wasn't bad, but pricey. My hair is oily at the root and dry at the ends, and after a few weeks the Wen just wasn't getting it clean. What I don't get is the theory that removing scalp sebum leads to the body producing more. Isn't sebum production hormonal?

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Ged said...

Hi Susan! Talking about shampoo, I wanted to ask you something I can't find the answer to in your e-book. Well, I did, but wonder if you might have some further info ...

I made a shampoo with the surfs I happened to have handy, and following one of your formulas for basic shampoo. I used Decyl glucoside, coco-glucoside, sodium lauryl sarcosinate, disodium cocoamphoacetate and of course coco-betaine. It turned out quite nice although the hibiscus extract I was trying out turned it rather a weird colour ... Had to use quite a lot of my precious imported Crothix as it was quite thin.

Anyway, as an experiment I took some out and added about 2-3% of sunflower oil (no polysorbate). To my surprise it's mixed in beautifully and the colour is nice as well. It's more opaque of course, but doesn't seem to have substantially depressed the foam.

So, have the surfactants acted as an emulsifier? Have I made a Great Shampoo Breakthrough? I haven't actually washed my hair with it yet, but would like your comments on it.

Many thanks, and hope you're back soon, as we miss you!

Robert said...

Sure, Mychelle, sebum prod'n is subject to many influences, but rebound oiliness does exist. This has been observed by people after washing the oiliest parts of their face with something fairly irritating like all-coconut soap. However, that's fairly weak evidence for oil removal's being a sebum stimulant in general. I'm not convinced that shampooing with something that's sufficiently degreasing but low in irritation will cause oil to rebound.