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Beauty Q&A: Is it okay to mix hair care products?

Eva inquires…Sometimes, I mix my hair products together (gel and shine serum usually, or gel and a styling cream). Every once in a while the combo clumps up and gets extra funky and weird. The question: is there any way to tell which products don’t play well with others?

The Left Brain explains:

Congratulations on discovering a trick that many consumers and salon operators use everyday. Generally mixing products together will not provide any extra benefit, but it can be a viable way of getting the benefits from both products simultaneously. This saves time and can often lead to a better look.

But as you’ve also discovered, some products can’t be mixed together. This is because the ingredients in one of the products are either not compatible or they react with the ingredients in the other.

Important Note: DON’T EVER MIX THE FOLLOWING PRODUCTS WITH ANY OTHER PRODUCTS! DOING SO CAN BE DANGEROUS!!

1. Relaxers

2. Perms

3. Permanent hair colors

4. Semi-permanent hair colors

5. Peroxide (bleach)

Ok, now that that is out of the way let’s look at mixing together non-reactive products.

The only way to really know if 2 products will be incompatible is to actually mix them together, but here are a few examples that will generally hold true.

Shampoo & Conditioner

These have ingredients that form a salt when mixed together. You’ll still get the shampoo effect but almost no conditioning. This won’t be true of baby shampoos but most others.

Shine Serums & other styling products

Look at the ingredient list of your shine serum. If there is no water listed, that usually means it will not be compatible with styling products that list Water as the first ingredient. Without special “emulsifiers”, water and silicone don’t mix. The silicone will “blob” up and it won’t work so well.

Pomades and other styling products

Pomades are oil based formulas with a low level of water (if any). Again look at the list of ingredients. If there is no water then you probably won’t be able to mix it with products that contain mostly water.

Styling gels and conditioning styling creams

While these formulas are both water based, the styling cream will often have a conditioning ingredient in it (e.g. Cetrimonium chloride) that can interfere with the thickening system of the gel (Carbomer) causing it to create “funky lumps” that ruin the effect of both products.

So, why don’t companies make products that have the effect of mixing products together? Well, they try to. It’s just that cosmetic manufacturers have to make products that will be appealing to as many consumers as possible. Since everyone’s hair and skin are different they won’t be able to please everyone with any one product. So, some products won’t work well for some people. That’s why sometimes you’ll have to mix products together to get the effect you’re looking for. And remember, there is NO product that will work well for everyone. People are just too different.

The Beauty Brain’s bottom line

It’s ok to mix some products together but the only way to know for sure if two products will be compatible is to actually mix them in your hand. If the mixture clumps up, changes color, or has some other weird effect, don’t use it. Otherwise, feel free. You just might get an effect that works better for your hair. And while it’s ok to mix together some of your cosmetics (except those reactive ones listed), please don’t start mixing your cleaning products. Doing so can create solutions that are really dangerous!

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