Saturday, May 29, 2010

Shampoo: Strengthening shampoos

I am noticing a real trend in advertising shampoos as "strengthening" your hair. (I'm looking at you L'Oreal and Herbal Essences). What exactly does this mean?

How does a shampoo strengthen? Well, it doesn't. (I kinda of covered this topic in my post on L'Oreal's EverStrong shampoo...) Using the right kinds of surfactants in the right proportions can not weaken our hair. We can also use all kinds of lovely conditioning, moisturizing, film forming, and hygroscopic ingredients to help our hair stay in good condition. (You'll generally see these claims made for products that don't contain sulfates or don't contain SLS, and you'll generally see them for conditioning shampoos, those that contain cationic polymers and dimethicone).

So really, the name of these shampoos should be "non-weakening" shampoos really, but I don't think those'd sell all that well.

Ingredient list for Break's Over by Herbal Essences:

water: The solvent for the rest of the ingredients.

ammonium lauryl sulfate: Interesting - variation on sodium lauryl sulfate that has an ammonium ion instead of a sodium ion as the cationic part.

ammonium laureth sulfate: A gentle surfactant; a variation on SLeS.

sodium chloride: Salt, generally used to thicken (and it's weird to see it this high up the ingredient this in the right order or is every ingredient below this on the list only included at 3% or lower - because we know that more than 3% can thin a surfactant mix thanks to the salt curve!)

cocamide mea: This is a variation on cocamide DEA, with monoethanolamine instead of diethanolamine. It is safe up to 10%, and is generally used at a 4:1 to ratio with the surfactants. It is a foam booster and stabilizer.

glycol distearate: We know this as EZ Pearl, a good pearlizer, thickener, and emollient generally found in moisturizing shampoo. Generally used at around 2% or so.

dimethicone: Our silicone - it offers conditioning and anti-friction and anti-frizz benefits.

ammonium xylenesulfonate (from A hydrotrope, a compound that makes it easier for water to dissolve other molecules. It is added as a thickener, and to help keep some of the odd ingredients added for marketing effect in solution, including perfumes.

cocos nucifera (coconut) milk: We know coconut oil is good for our hair, so is coconut milk good as well? Considering it contains a ton of lauric acid, this might be a good choice for our hair.

mangifera indica (mango) fruit extract: Mango fruit extract? I found it here at NDA, so here's their description..."It is often used in formulations to prevent the formation of wrinkles and the drying of skin. By preventing the degeneration of skin cells, flexibility of the skin is restored. Usage rate 0.5%." I'm not sure why this is in a hair care product.

pearl powder: Not really sure why this is here. It's used in mineral make-up as a protein type ingredient that is supposed to be good for bone development and healthy skin, but these have not been confirmed by the FDA. So it might be valid as a protein, but it's not hydrolyzed so it might not deposit on your hair. It could also be used to pearlize the product.

fragrance: Pretty smell.

cetyl alcohol: Used in conjunction with cationic conditioning agents to boost substantivity. It also offers emolliency.

polyquaternium-10: A cationic conditioning polymer, like polyquat 7 or honeyquat.

sodium citrate: A pH adjuster and chelating ingredient.

sodium benzoate: Preservative.

citric acid: pH adjuster, anti-oxidant, and chelating ingredient.

disodium edta: A chelating ingredient. Used at up to 0.20% in a formula.

peg-7m: I can't figure out what this is because many things can be "PEG-7" include water soluble oils and thickeners for our surfactants. It could be a water soluble oil - so it's moisturizing - and it could be the PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate that acts as a moisturizing and thickener.

propylene glycol: A humectant and possible solvent.

methylchloroisothiazolinone & methylisothiazolinone: Preservatives.

ext. violet 2: colour

If you want to see my logic in how to replicate products, please click here

What's interesting here is what not's in this. There's no cocamidopropyl betaine - good for thickening and making the mixture milder - no proteins, and no panthenol or other vitamins. (Yes, the pearl powder can be considered a protein, but as it isn't approved by the FDA for this purpose, I can't consider it as a protein.) And the humectants are so low, they might as well not be in here. This is a really basic shampoo that would suit the needs of those looking to avoid those ingredients.

Okay, let's find our percentages in this list...

Anything below salt on the ingredient list has to be at 3% because we know if we use salt at more than 3%, it starts to thin rather than thicken. So the only things over 3% in this recipe will be the surfactants and water. With such low levels of surfactants and without cocamidopropyl betaine (really?) we'll need to thicken this a lot more than usual. I don't see Crothix on this list, so we know the salt and the glycol distearate will be the thickeners. Oh, and the cocamide MEA - I don't have that, so I will be using cocamide DEA.

Since I think this is probably considered a daily use shampoo, I know I'll have lower levels of surfactants - 15% or lower - so I have an idea of what to include in the shampoo now. (I don't have ALS, so I'm substituting a milder surfactant in the form of C14-16 olefin sulfonate, suitable for oily hair. You can substitute your preferred surfactant. I do have ALeS, so I'll use that as the other surfactant.)

I don't have coconut milk, so I'll use coconut oil. I need to use it in lower levels because I don't have a huge emulsifier in this mix. I'm thinking 2%. And extracts are generally used at 0.5%, so let's use the mango fruit extract powder in the cool down phase at that amount.

68.8% water
7.5% C14-16 olefin sulfonate
7.5% ammonium laureth sulfate
2% cocamide DEA
2% glycol distearate
1% cetyl alcohol (or lower - 0.5%?)
1% propylene glycol
0.2% EDTA
2% coconut oil
2% protein of choice

2% dimethicone
2% polyquat 7
0.5% mango fruit powder extract
0.5% preservative
1% fragrance oil

This is a good daily use shampoo for various hair types. If you want, substitute a hydrosol or aloe vera for part of the water amount (10% aloe vera will give you more thickening) and substitute the extract for something else you might like (rosemary for oily hair, green tea for other hair types). Leave out the oil if you have oily hair or don't like oils. Substitute glycerin or another humectant for the propylene glycol, nd feel free to boost up the surfactants by adding up to 10% cocamidopropyl betaine to thicken and increase mildness. I haven't done those things, as I'm going for replication here!