What are the ingredients in a shampoo?

Some of the ingredients in the shampoo are really indispensable, while some are intended to deceive the consumer. Shampoos contain up to 8 types of ingredients, despite the long list of tricky chemicals written in the ingredients. Lets check…

1. Surfactants

Surfactants are the ingredient that does the main job and is a must in a shampoo. They are substances that cleans the oil and sweat produced by the body in the hair and scalp. Surfactants are also effective in cleaning dust and dirt coming from the external environment by making them water-soluble. In a typical shampoo, usually at least 2 different surfactants are used. Some of the most famous ones are Sodium Lauryl sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl sulfate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine.

2. Ph Adjusters

Human hair and scalp has a low PH. Due to the ingredients, a normal shampoo have high ph, which can damage skin and hair. Therefore, ph adjusters like citric acid ( lemon salt) and glycolic acid are used to reduce the pH level of the shampoo to around 5,5.

Ph Scale

3. Ion scavengers (chelating agents)

Chelating agents are chemical compounds that react with metal ions to form a stable, water-soluble complex. The agents bind to calcium and magnesium ions founded in tap water and shampoo and chemically inactivates them. If Ion scavengers is not included in a shampoo, the ions cause the formation of the substance “scum”. This substance, which does not dissolve in water or does not flow easily with water, sticks to the hair and scalp, causing the hair to be matted and tangled. When you wash your hands or something with soap, you can notice scum, which is a gray dirty thing accumulating on the rinse water. The ion scavengers also help prevent microorganism growth and spoilage in the shampoo. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid is the most famous of these substances.

4. Preservatives

Preservatives prevents the growth of microorganisms in the shampoo. This is important for two reasons: Firstly, microbes cause the shampoo to deteriorate (bad odor, change in consistency and color, inability to clean) and skin infection. Some of the preservatives are sodium benzoate, tetrasodium edta and parabens.

5. Hair conditioner effective ingredients (conditioning agents)

Conditioning agents) are used to enhance the appearance and texture of the hair, to facilitate combing and styling, and to prevent frizz. There are plenty of these substances in shampoos for dry hair and damaged hair. However, The agents may prevent oily hair from being thoroughly cleaned and make even newly washed hair look dirty. Indeed, technically these substances are “good” soils that replace “bad” dirt in which they are added to shampoos so that they do not rinse off and do stick to the hair. Famous hair conditioner effective ingredients are dimethicone, dimethiconol, propylene glycol and polyvinylpyrrolidone.

6. Foaming Agents

They are substances that are added to the shampoo in order to abuse the consumer perception of “foam = cleaning”, although they have no other useful function. They increase lathering provided by surfactants and satisfy the shampoo user. Cocodiethanolamide is one of these substances.

7. Thickening Agents and Opacifiers

Thickening or Opacifiers are used to make the shampoo look beautiful both physically and visually. The agents have no beneficial use for hair or scalp. Almost all shampoos are essentially transparent. However, since transparent appearance will be “light” according to the shampoo perception of the consumers, these substances are used to obtain an opaque appearance. The agents are also utilized to increase texture of so that the consumer does not say “this shampoo is like water”. Examples of Thickening Agents and Opacifiers are Glycol Distearate and Sodium Chloride (salt).

8. Special Additives

Vitamins, pro-vitamins, herbal extracts / oils, herbs fall into this group. The additives are usually promoted as the “miraculous substances”, “complexes” and “technologies” in advertisements or in product labels, though their effects may be very limited or have not any at all. In addition, by exchanging one or two substances from this group, same shampoos are produced and sold as many kinds of shampoo with different properties.

So, why are these substances are not working at all / not working enough? This is because The shampooing time is so short, even for a really effective substance. Just for this reason, medical shampoos may contain warnings such as “keeping them in the hair for 5 or 10 minutes” and “repeating daily”.

In addition, the feature of the shampoo is to dissolve the water-insoluble substances in water and remove them from the hair by rinsing. Just as the oil and dirt on the hair and scalp flow away with the rinsing water, the substances from this group also flow away. As a result, these substances do not have long-term effects on the hair and scalp after washing.

Apart from these, Special Additives contains dye, perfume and of course much more water than half. In addition, medical shampoos contain active ingredients.

A Standard Shampoo

As you can see, what should be in a shampoo are only substances from the first 4 groups. Substances from the fifth group can be added according to hair type and consumer desire. But the last three groups may have limited use or no use at all and contribute to consumer deception.

For further readings on this topic, you may check here or more updated, various perspective here

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