How does VO5 Hot Oil work?

The hair style of the models in this commercial is laughable…but the science of how this product works is serious.

As you can probably tell I really enjoy these vintage cosmetic commercials. This one is particularly meaningful to me since I had the privilege of working on VO5 Hot Oil. Even though it has been around since the 1970s the technology still fascinates me and it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever seen.

How does VO5 Hot Oil work?

Unlike other products, Hot Oil actually reacts with your shampoo to create a conditioning complex. (Years ago I created a demonstration showing this effect: if you pour hot oil into a solution of shampoo it instantly turns cloudy showing that the reaction takes place.) The key ingredient is PEI 1750 which has a very high charge density so it can stick to hair better.

In fact Perry and I even wrote a paper on this topic. It’s titled “Solid‐state Polyelectrolyte Complexes of Branched Poly(ethylenimine) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate” and it was published in the Journal of Macromolecular Science. I believe Perry still sells autographed copies on his other website. (Yeah, the one that he cheats on me with.)


Water, Cocotrimonium Chloride, Acetamide MEA, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEI 1750, Oleth 20, Propylene Glycol, Hydrochloric Acid, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Polyquaternium 10, Hydrolzyed Wheat Protein, Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Vegetable Amino Acids, Lysine Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Amy Cinnamal, Yellow 6 (CI 15985), Eugenol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Phytantriol, Keratin Amino Acids, Polysorbate 20, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG Propyl Silanetriol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Niacinamide, Biotin