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Do L’Oreal products really thicken hair? Episode 79

L’Oreal has a number of products that claim to actually thicken your hair. This week Randy and I take a look how these products work and which ones provide the best value.

Claim to Fame: Fructus Full & Plush Ends Plumper

This is the segment of the showgram where we look at popular personal care product claims and tell you what the claim really means, how it can be true, and whether or not it means the product is worth spending more money on. This week we’re looking at a hair thickening claim that used across several L’Oreal products most notably on Garnier Fructis “Full & Plush Ends Plumper.”

What is the claim?

We always start by reviewing the exact language of the claim because sometimes a claim implies something but doesn’t really say it. So here are the exact claims from this Fructus product:

  • Our first targeted treatment with Fibra-Cylane and pomegranate that plumps wispy ends for a fuller look.
  • PLUMPS thinned-out ENDS*
  • …penetrates and plumps hair for a full, voluptuous look.
  • Instantly the LOOK OF MORE HAIR*
  • Hair feels FULLER & looks THICKER*
  • Touchably SOFT & PLUSH*
  • *Garnier Fructis Full & Plush System of Shampoo, Conditioner & Ends Plumper treatment.

How can the claim be true?

First let’s point out that some of these claims can be supported by almost any conventional styling product. Any product that leaves a significant coating on the hair (especially true of mousses, gels, putties, and so forth) can be said to make hair “feel fuller.” And any product that helps lock your style in place (like a hairspray) can say that it instantly gives you the “look of more hair.” So to some extent this sounds like the same old marketing speak. Claims like this can easily be supported by a salon test that shows when you style your hair and lock it in place your hair style has more volume.

But, some of their other claims refer to penetrating hair and thickening individual fibers which is NOT something you can achieve by coating hair with conventional products. So to understand how they might support those claims we need to take a closer look at their special technology which they call “Fibra-Cylane.” By reviewing their ingredient lists and looking at their patents, it appears that Fibra-Cylane is an ingredient called aminopropyl triethoxysilane.

According to L’Oreal, this ingredient works like this:

“It penetrates the hair shaft, expands and strengthens the hair…”

“it’s…Similar to the silica gel used to fill cracks in car windshields, the technology is also inspired by wrinkle fillers for the skin…”

“…Filloxane’s small molecules slip through hair cuticles, attracted like magnets to proteins inside the fiber. They bind to the hair proteins as well as to each other, forming a rigid, stable network that adds volume to naturally thin or aging hair”

The idea appears to be based on what is called “sol gel” technology which involves converting a solution into a solid gel. This chemistry is used in glass coatings to fill in cracks. Here’s a link to a video by one of the researchers who worked on the technology which features a petri dish demo of how it works. Although, she admits that it’s not a very realistic demo because it uses a highly concentrated solution. But still it’s interesting. Based on looking at the hair tresses in the video it looks like the material helps hair fibers hold their shape but without a heavy crust. It’s easy to imagine how they could support these “volumizing” claims if that’s how it works.

L’Oreal makes several mentions of how Fibra-Cylane penetrates hair. If the molecule is small enough this could be true and there are test methods that have documented silicone penetration into hair. For example, this 1995 paper talks show how silicones can penetrate through the cuticle and intro the cortex using an analtyical procedure known as scanning time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectroscopy (TOF-SIMS).

Should this claim persuade you to buy the product?

There SEEMS to be something significant here, but I couldn’t find any clear evidence of how well this stuff works compared to conventional technologies. There are a number of patents related to using aminopropyl triethoxysilane on hair but I couldn’t find anything like “this stuff thickens hair fibers by 39%” which is the kind of evidence I’d like to see. There was a paper presented at one of the technical symposiums titled “3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane: A new compound stemming from sol-gel chemistry provides thin hair fiber with more volume” but I haven’t been able to track down a copy to see if it provides more details.

So, it seems that L’Oreal may have some unique technology that can thicken hair from within but it’s tough to say for sure. The good news is, it’s relatively easy for you to try it for yourself. The bad news is that it can be confusing because L’Oreal uses this technology in no less than 6 different brands. AND, the prices varies wildly so you have to be careful which product you buy so you don’t get over-charged. Let’s take a look at each one so you can pick the one that’s best for you. For each brand we’ll tell you which product uses this technology, what they call the technology, the ingredients in the product, and the cost per ounce.

Interesting side note:  look at all the different words L’Oreal has for “volume” across their hair care brands:

  • Fructis has normal sounding “Volume Extend” collection
  • For L’Oréal Professionnel there’s the “Série Expert Vol-u-me-try”
  • Kerastase has the “VOLUM-I-FIQUE” and the “Vol-u-mor-phose” collections.
  • Kerastase also has “DEN-SI-FI-QUE” line and the“DEN-SI-MOR-PHOSE” mousse
  • And finally their Vichy brand has a “NEOGENIC REDENSIFYING SHAMPOO.”

All these are different ways of saying it looks like you have more hair. Wow.

Ok, now let’s talk about the specific products. Again, in case you weren’t aware, these are ALL L’Oreal brands.

Garnier Fructis Full & Plush Ends Plumper Amplifying leave in serum

Technology name: Fibra-Cylane.

Comments: Obviously we’ve already talked about this one. As we said the technology is called “Fibra-Cylane.” As you can see from the ingredient list (which we’ll post in the show notes) it does contain aminopropyl triethoxysilane but it appears to use a lower level and it contains a good slug of a traditional styling polymer. So even if this one does thicken your hair that may be overwhelmed by the feeling of a crusty styling coating. However, it’s also the cheapest product in the line at just over $1.00 per ounce.


Cost: $5.49/5oz = $1.10/oz

Biolage by Matrix Advanced FiberStrong Fortifying Cream

Technology name: Intra-Cylane (with Bamboo)

Comments: This one uses Aminopropyl Triethoxysilane in a cream base but it appears to be at a higher level. So at $3.25/oz you’ll pay a little more but you may get more of the active agent.

Ingredients: Aqua / Water / Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Aminopropyl Triethoxysilane, Cetyl Esters, Amodimethicone, Parfum / Fragrance, Behentrimonium Chloride, Lactic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Trideceth-6, Benzyl Alcohol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Cetrimonium Chloride, Linalool, 2-Oleamido-1,3-Octadecanediol, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Limonene, Geraniol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract.

Cost: $22/6.8oz = $3.25/oz

Vichy Dercos Instant Filler

Technology name: Filloxane

Comments: Vichy calls the technology “Filloxane” because it “fills in” your hair. Get it? It’s the purest version basically just a solution of aminopropyl triethoxysilane in water. It’s $3.25/oz which is only slightly more expensive than the Matrix version so if you want to try it without the cream base, this is a great option.

Ingredients: Aqua, Aminopropyl Triethoxysilane, Lactic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicytate, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamate, Hydroxycitronellal, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Limonene, Linalool, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Parfum (Fragrance).

Cost: $14/4.3 oz = $3.25/oz

L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Volume Filler Fiber Amplifying Concentrate In-Shower Treatment

Technology name: Filloxane

Comments: Here they also use the name “Filloxane” for the technology. It’s also the same basic formula as the Vichy version except it has some castor oil to thicken it up and it sells for a few cents more.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Aminopropyl Triethoxysilane, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Lactic Acid, Fragrance, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Linalool, Limonene, Citronellol, Geraniol

Cost: $5.59/1.5 oz = $3.72/oz

L’Oreal Professional Volumetry Anti-gravity Serum Booster

Technology name: Intra-Cylane

Comments: Just like Matrix they call the technology Intra-Cylane. It’s appears to be the exact same formula base as the L’Oreal Paris product but it sells for about $10 per oz which is almost three times the price. So stay away from this one!

Ingredients: Water, Aminopropyl Triethoxysilane, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Lactic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene., Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Geraniol, CItral, Benzyl Alcohol, Parfum

Cost: $6/0.6 oz = $10/oz

Kérastase Resistance Volumorphose Volume Expansion Treatment

Technology name: Intra-Cylane

Comments: Again we see the “Intra-Cylane” name used but the Kerastase name is what will really cost you. This one sells for $20/oz which is ridiculous! I think they may have discontinued this because I could only find it on reseller sites and not L’oreal’s actual website.

Cost: 30-0.66 oz vials/$400 = $20/oz.

So, there you have it, a complete run down on L’Oreal products with “sol-gel” technology.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

L’Oreal may have some unique technology that can thicken hair from within. However, even though the technology appears to be heavily protected by patents it’s difficult to say how well this works compared to conventional products. In fact, some of the claims L’Oreal makes can be achieved with standard formulas. This good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try it out for yourself IF you know what to look for.

(Here’s the link to the Gawker article on the Food Babe vs. the Science Babe that we talked about.)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cris hamilton April 21, 2015, 7:24 pm

    I tried the L’Oreal on my daughter and on my hair. Used the shampoo, conditioner and styling gel.
    Didn’t do a thing for our hair. They are both really hard to rinse out, too.
    Maybe our hair doesn’t have enough holes to fill in to make a noticible difference.

    • Randy Schueller April 22, 2015, 7:48 am

      That’s a good point. I got the sense that this technology works better on more damaged hair. (Especially the ends.)

  • Tish April 21, 2015, 7:35 pm

    Typo note: you have the Garnier Fructis product listed for $100 instead of $1.00 in the product comments. Otherwise, great post!

    • Randy Schueller April 22, 2015, 7:49 am

      Uh, maybe they had a price increase? (I’ll fix that now, thanks Tish!)

  • Alessandra April 21, 2015, 7:58 pm

    Great post! Just wondering of any of these ingredients could damage the hair?

  • V April 21, 2015, 10:09 pm

    I have tried it…the whole line. It may initially seem to give you the look of more hair, HOWEVER, I personally feel it leaves a coating on your hair.

    I used it two times, and already felt the build-up. This takes away from the shine, the bounce, and really any “natural” feel to the hair.
    If that doesn’t bother you, then give it a try. I am very picky about having a lot of product in my hair, so this was not for me

    When I wash my hair, I want it to feel & look good, clean & healthy!

  • Aspsusa April 22, 2015, 5:59 am

    You bad, bad people! Your link to the gawker article about the food babe sent me down the rabbit hole for several hours, reading about this bizarre persons bizarre ideas.

    Interesting product idea. But I wonder how long lasting the effect is? And what happens to hair that has been treated with this as it grows – if “stuff” gets into the hairshaft, does it stay there forever? Does it stay there nicely anchored forever? Let’s say you treat hair with this once and then just wash it twice a week for two to three years; will the “stuff” stay put, will it gradually break down, and if it does, will it rinse out or will it result in uneven hair?
    And what about trying to colour hair that has just been treated with it?

    • Randy Schueller April 22, 2015, 7:51 am

      Wow, very insightful questions! Let’s hope L’Oreal has done their homework…

      PS Welcome back from the rabbit hole.

      • Aspsusa April 23, 2015, 1:16 am

        I’m sure L’oreal has done their homework, but I suspect they have mainly tested for a scenario where hair gets regularly cut and is worn pretty short, maybe shoulder length at most.

  • Pedro April 22, 2015, 4:16 pm

    I’m trying a shampoo with this technology, but I’m not seeing (almost) any difference at all.

  • Barbara April 30, 2015, 11:35 am

    I tried the Garnier Fructis line and it gave me a horrible itchy scalp that I needed to see my doctor and get medication to apply to my scalp. Once I stopped using the product it took a few months for my scalp to return to normal. I found the Fructis line to heavily coat my hair. Prior to this I never had a problem with any hair product.

  • Hanane December 27, 2015, 5:27 pm

    Nice topic.. do these products prevent water from reach the hair .. since they have a coating effect?

    • Randy Schueller December 28, 2015, 9:49 am

      That’s certainly possible – although it’s hard to coat the hair 100% because there’s so much surface area.

  • Dana March 22, 2016, 11:23 am

    I looked into the ‘no-poo’ thing – where people decided to stop using shampoo (and possibly conditioner) and it seemed to be because they didn’t like silicone. Silicone comes in 2 types – water soluble and non water soluble. Some people say silicones in hair shampoo and conditioner coats the hair by blocking the hair follicles and stops nutrients reaching the hair, making it dry. Some people say that by blocking the hair follicles, silicone would either lock water out (and thus make hair dry and brittle) or lock oils into the follicle (and thus make hair dry and brittle). Some people said that water soluble silicones are OK for some people because they wash out, and allow the hair ‘to breathe’. I am so confused because hair is dead (isn’t it?) and this ALL sounds ridiculous. Not to mention some no-poo people seem to use vinegar and baking soda instead – those are harsh chemicals!

    Anyway, if there is any truth to any of that… then if you coat your hair in filloxane, I guess it would have the same effect as a long-lasting hard-to-remove silicone. The fact that it penetrates the follicle is interesting – it attaches to the protein? Is that bad? Do hair proteins change when attached to filloxane? Do hair proteins need nutrients – does filloxane prevent them getting any (no because they’re dead right????)???? Is there a possibility it could crack from the inside out? Can it expand under any conditions? I guess not if they use it for car windshields.

    If hair is dead, then fine. Cover it in silicone and filloxane, I see no problem.

    But in reply to another comment, I do imagine it would make hair-dyeing more difficult, as it would prevent the dye getting into the follicle and sittting there – I’m fairly sure that’s how hair dye works. Hair bleach might remove filloxane prior to dyeing, or perhaps a clarifying shampoo. Those can both make hair brittle though.

  • Christian October 30, 2016, 11:33 am

    Hi there! Great article. I bought the Kerestase product you mentioned. I’ve been using it for two weeks and have mixed feelings, hence my search landing me on your page. My hair definitely has more volume. Maybe even double now. I switched to another shampoo, R+Co moon, this morning because I was concerned about build up. It’s the bottle I was previously using. My hair dried out so fast that it felt like straw. I literally could not run my hands through it until after I conditioned. Once conditioned it’s back to normal but I was quiet scared for a moment. Any of these ingredients used to agitate or strip the hair so the active chemical can penetrate?

    • Randy Schueller October 31, 2016, 8:20 am

      The L’Oreal products don’t work by stripping the hair so that’s probably not the cause of your problem.

  • Jim May 20, 2017, 9:40 pm

    L’Oreal’s ‘Filloxane’ supposedly created a scaffold effect within the hair. While the hair is wet, it expands and this scaffolding is supposed to keep the hair ‘expanded’ even after it dries providing a thicker look and feel so, if your hair expands very little or not at all when wet you won’t see much of an effect. Silicones that block moisture to prevent frizz can cause the hair to dry out especially when heat is used, if the hairs moisture level drops too low the high heat can ‘melt’ or fuse the proteins in the hair rendering them brittle and causing them to break especially at the ends where the hair is oldest and if your Shampoo, Conditioner / Treatment and Styling Product(s) all contain silicone you can get a heavy build-up.

  • Kimberly July 31, 2019, 10:58 am

    I decided to try out the L’oreal Elvive “Full Fiber” with “Filloxane,” as it was buy-one-get-one-free here. It’s pretty bad (and I’ve got TWO bottles!). Usually after using conditioner I can easily brush my hair but this one does nothing for that. I don’t have any issue with a feeling of “build-up” or anything like that. I just hate how it apparently offers little to no help with detangling. On the other hand, I did try Nexxus Promend Split End Repair Restoring Conditioner, which you guys talked about elsewhere, and that was great. It seemed to absorb into my hair when I applied it. I have no idea if I actually absorbed or offered any extra benefits, but it did make my hair smooth, nice, and easy to brush.

    Thanks for debunking so many myths!

  • Lake May 10, 2020, 5:05 pm

    So I’m 5 years late to the party here, but I wanted to give my 2 cents anyway. I have frequented this site and appreciated its honest insights before, so I was delighted to find a post about the new ingredient I’m chasing, “Fibra-cyclane”.

    That name sounds horribly gimick-y, but something about this particular Garnier shampoo/conditioner changes the way my hair behaves. Thicker hair? More volume? Not in the slightest. Rather, it makes my hair more manageable, and very shiny after air-drying. I generally don’t fall for mystery ingredients with awful names, but this effect was different than your run-of-the-mill silicone coating. With this product my hair lays like, well, healthy hair and not a boof of sheep’s wool, but isn’t slick and heavy like the result of “deep conditioners” (ugh). Maybe this makes some kinds of hair too brittle? For me it apparently provides just the right amount of reinforcement. Perhaps I’m in the sweet spot where the the concentration of “Fibra-cyclane” in the product and the thickness/porosity of my hair make magic.

    I think aminopropyl triethoxysilane does work, but they are marketing it completely wrong. Might work better if sold as a de-tangling agent? A “manageability” enhancer? Leave that to the pros, I guess. All I’m saying is they are missing the mark with “volume”. I don’t know how this effects very fine hair or very coarse hair, being in the middle-of-the-road category myself as far as hair density and thickness. But if I am the example of the niche this product works on, then there are probably a lot of brunettes with slightly unruly hair who would benefit from this ingredient.