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Do I really need to use 3 kinds of conditioner?
Dev asks… Is it absolutely essential to use a leave in, a rinse out, and a deep conditioner? I’ve been washing my hair and appling a regular rinse out conditioner and then I leave it in until the next time I wash my hair about a week later. Am I damaging my hair this way or do I really need to use a leave in, a daily and a deep conditioner?
No Dev, don’t be ridiculous. you don’t need to use a leave in, a daily rinse out and a deep conditioner. But you DO need to use a pre-wash treatment, a rinse out conditioner, a deep repair restructrurizer, a dry damaged masque, a hot oil treatment, and a leave in detangler. EVERY SINGLE DAY.
You have to keep in mind that a lot of these conditioner products overlap and that they only reason they exist if because marketing wants to sell more products.
Yeah, these deliver the same primary benefits, to different degrees, or they may just offer different ways to deliver that benefit. To give you some context let’s talk a little bit about talk about conditioners work.
Most conditioners work by lubricating the hair to smooth the cuticle. That’s the outer layer of the hair which consists of overlapping scales called cuticles. These cuticle are like the shingles on the roof of your house – they protect what’s beneath it. As your hair is damaged from washing and drying and combing and brushing and perming and coloring, the cuticle starts to wear away. When this happens your hair is broken more easily.
By smoothing the cuticles, conditioners make hair feel softer, look shinier and, most importantly, reduce breakage from brushing and combing.
This is the essential function of almost all leave ins, rinse outs, and deep conditioners. A rinse out and a deep conditioner or a mask that you leave in your hair for 3 to 5 minutes don’t really do anything different. They can deliver lubrication using different ingredients but they all do essentially the same thing to the outside of your hair.
Now, SOME conditioners can work on the inside. There are a few ingredients that have been proven to penetrate hair and strengthen the inside. Panthenol is one of those ingredients although you rarely see it used at high enough levels to make a difference. Coconut oil is another although again, the level has to be high and it has to be left on hair for hours to allow it to penetrate and to water proof your hair from the inside.
Also, there are some speciality products that have added benefits. Most split end menders are just hype. But there are a couple of technologies that can actually bind splits back together and keep them that way for several washings. We’ve written about this a few times.
Most color protect products are hype as well. We have seen a few technologies that can lock color in hair. Tresemme Color Revitalize is one of these.
Dev asked about using a rinse out as a leave in? In many cases, you should not. That’s because some ingredients are not intended for long term contact with the skin. For example, cetrimonium chloride is limited to 0.2% in a leave on product but it can be used at much higher levels in a rinse out product. If you’ve been doing this without any adverse effects you may be fine but if you try this with a different rinse out conditioner you may find your skin reacting differently.
The bottom line is that at the end of the day it’s really about your personal choice. If you like the way your hair feels after layering it with multiple conditioners there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s also very unlikely that you’re getting much additional benefit and you’re probably wasting money.
Can you get addicted to body lotion?
Courtney asks…Is it possible for your skin to become dependent on lotion? In the winter, I got in the habit of putting it on every time I showered because my skin was dry. I’ve kept it up into the warm weather and I’m wondering if it’s helping my skin, hurting it, or neither.
This reminds of the question about becoming addicted to lip balm. In some cases, what you do to the surface of skin, which is dead, does affect the living cells below. But, no, your body can’t get physically addicted to lotion.
Your skin does have different needs in different seasons. In the winter, your skin needs moisturizer because the humidity is low and water evaporates from your skin more easily. In the summer, the humidity is typically higher but exposure to sunlight can dry out your skin so using a moisturizer in warm weather is not a bad idea.
The bottom line is: Your skin won’t “get addicted” to it but you may also find that you don’t need to use it as much in the summer. If your skin feels dry, use lotion!
Does silicone build up on skin?
RJ says…I’ve noticed that you’ve oft touted silicones as excellent hair conditioners. However, you haven’t talked much about the impact of silicones on skin, more specifically the face. I assume they carry similar pros and cons to hair application; the pros being excellent occlusive properties and the cons being potential buildup. Is this a correct assumption?
I’ve never seen anything to suggest that silicones build up on your skin. First of all, cleansers will do a good job of removing silicones. Even on hair there’s not much evidence of buildup. The problem with hair is that the surface area is so great because each hair is tube shaped and there are so many of them. We figured that if you could take each hair and cut it open and flatten it out, the hair from one person with average length would cover a small living room (about 100 sq ft.) If silicones do build up on hair, the problem is even worse because of all that surface area that you have to clean.
By comparison, the surface area of the average face is less than 1 square foot. Plus it’s a lot easier to scrub your face with a wash cloth, a sonic cleanser brush, or whatever. Your face it just easier to clean.
Also, remember that unlike hair, your skin is constantly shedding its outer layer. That shedding process will help slough off any product residue. The bottom line is that you really don’t need to worry about silicone buildup on skin.
Is Sodium PCA a good anti-aging ingredient?
Ramsey asks…Does anybody have any additional information on this ingredient? I’ve been using TwinLabs Na-PCA spray for over 10 years but I believe it’s been discontinued. I personally think it works great but it’s more of an aging prevention product as opposed to an aging reversing product.
I’m always surprised to find that NaPCA is not more widely recognized. It stands for Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid and it’s a component of the skin’s own Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF).
Yea, if you analyze the NMF you’ll see that it consists of about 40% amino acids, 12% sodium PCA, 12% lactate, about 8% sugars like glycerol, 7% urea, and bunch of other stuff. NaPCA is really important because it helps the skin hold onto moisture.
You don’t see it used all that frequently anymore but in the 90’s it showed up in a lot of anti-aging products. It doesn’t take the place of occlusive agents that lock moisture in skin but it is effective in helping the skin to hold onto moisture.
Regarding aging prevention vs aging reversing: I sort of agree. When it’s part of your skin it can be aging prevention. When applied topically it’s really just another way to moisturize.
Beauty Science News
No difference between men’s and women’s razors
I found an article that explains the difference between razors for men and women. According to their research, there are differences in the quality of razor blades between brands but within a brand there’s no functional difference between the blades used for men’s products and women’s products. As proof of this, they point to a press release issued by Gillette a few years ago in which they stated that the blades used in products for both genders “are both using the same “blade technology”.”
That doesn’t mean there are NO differences. Women tend to shave a much larger surface area than men (about 18 times more, according to some estimates) so women’s razors may have larger, more rounded head pieces.
Also, women tend to shave longer hairs than men do so some women’s razors include guide bars to align the hairs to provide a better cut. Finally, some women’s razors include lubricating ingredients again, because of the larger surface area. These things can all add to the price even though the blade itself is the same. So it sounds like in some cases a higher price may be justified but if you’re just comparing the most basic model of men’s and women’s razors there may not be much difference. I’ll put the link in the show notes so you read the rest of the discussion. By the way, there are a ton of scientists at work on this. At just one Gillette facility they have 100 PhD working on shaving products. Wow.
Pleasant smells increase facial attractiveness
Want to make yourself look better? Well, here is some research out of the Monell Chemical Senses Center which suggests that perfumes and scented products can alter how people perceive you.
Previous research had shown that you could change the perception of facial attractiveness by using pleasant and unpleasant odors but scientists didn’t know whether that was actually changing the visual perception or just an emotional response. This study involved having 18 young adults evaluate the attractiveness and age of 8 female faces. The images varied in terms of natural aging features like lines and wrinkles.
While evaluating the images the subjects were exposed to different odors, one pleasant (rose oil) and one unpleasant (fish oil). Then the subjects rated the age of the face in the photo, the attractiveness and the pleasantness of the odor. The result was that odor pleasantness directly influenced rating of facial attractiveness suggesting that odor and visual cues independently influence judgements.
One downside to using pleasant odors is that visual age cues were more strongly influenced when people smelled a pleasant odor. That means that people judged the photos to look older than they were and younger than they were. The unpleasant odor made you appear closer to your real age.
Beauty is in your genes (and here’s why)
We’ve often said that how you age is determined by your genes but there’s new research has discovered exactly which genes are responsible for which aspects of aging.
This comes to us from the fine folks at P&G who researched how changes in gene expression changes affect the appearance and quality of women’s skin as they age.
Most interesting, they looked at women who look extremely young for their age and found they share some unique genetic characteristics.
They found these women have a “unique skin fingerprint” that’s driven by about 2,000 genes. We all have these genes but the degree to which they’re expressed is what keeps these women looking younger later in life. The researchers believe there are several key biological functions controlled by these genes including “cellular energy production, cell junction and adhesion processes, skin and moisture barrier formation, DNA repair and replication, and anti-oxidant production.”
In the far flung future, if we learn to control gene expression reliably, this research could really impact antiaging. But for now it at least it may help us improve some of our compensating treatments like better use of antioxidants.
Skin treatment experiment
There was an article on New Beauty in which an author Courtney Leiva experimented with a skin treatment over the course of a week and she reported on how it went. I applaud her for making the attempt but it was really lackluster in terms of scientific rigor. The beauty treatment she was trying was liquid chlorophyll. According to the purveyors of this product, using liquid chlorophyll is supposed to oxygenate and refresh your skin.
For seven days she added chlorophyll to her water. She first found the liquid chlorophyll at a health food shop. That seems like a problem to me right away. How would you know that something is actually chlorophyll and not just green, flavored water? Anyway, she drank the chlorophyll and didn’t see any immediate improvements to her skin. Not surprising. She said it tasted pretty awful.
There was no effect after 2 days, then none after 3 or 4 or 5 or even after a week. So, if you tried something for a week and saw no difference, what would your conclusion be? Well, hers was that she’ll keep it up for another week. I wonder how long it takes before people give up on products?
Paramela oil: Yet another exotic natural beauty ingredient
I just read about a new exotic oil, Paramela. It comes from a evergreen sort of plant that is native to Argentina and it’s noteworthy because it can reportedly help soothe rosacea. The good news is that its benefits were established in a research study that was published in Cosmetics & Toiletries. The bad news is that research study is crap.
I think this was one of those vendor sponsored studies and it wasn’t very well-designed. There were no control whatsoever. They put the the oil in an emulsion and tested it on 10 people. TEN PEOPLE. They rated the panelists’ skin before and after treatment.
They found that people had less redness and less transepidermal water loss after using the product. But what does that mean? You can’t tell if the people just got better over time because the weather changed or whether the emulsion itself was helping – any lotion could provide this kind of effect. There’s no reason whatsoever to believe that this oil is anything special.
The reason I making such a big deal about this is this is why it’s so important to really read the research when you’re looking at products that use fancy exotic ingredients that are probably going to ask you to spend more money on them. Even if they can point to a scientific study that still doesn’t mean that the product does anything special which means you shouldn’t be tricked into spending more money on it!
Squeezing the last drops out of a shampoo bottle
Here was some cool technology I saw in a story about shampoo bottles. Since so many people are working on all the really big problems of the world, it’s nice to know that we still have people working on some of the more mundane problems. In this case, researchers at Ohio State University have come up with a solution to that problem the has bothered people for decades, leaving the last few drops of product in your shampoo, body wash, or skin care product bottle.
Inspired by the Lotus leaf, they created a slippery surface in which the surfactants in personal care products like shampoo will not stick to. Rather, they just slide out. The technology involved creating a surface that had tiny pockets of air and then adhering that special surface to a polypropylene plastic bottle using a silicate particle.
It sounds complicated. Anyway, the shampoo just slipped right off the surface. The video is pretty cool. Unfortunately, they said that over time the effect didn’t work as well so there is still more work to be done. I don’t know why they don’t just tip the bottle upside down like I do.