Glyoxylic acid in ... conditioner?

I have a question about a product that's supposed to be used like a conditioner or mask for "unmanageable" or "damaged" hair. Why is glyoxylic acid used here? Isn't it supposed to be an ingredient in some BKT-style keratin straightening treatments or other chemical straightening procedures? Why might it be used in a regular mask?

Goldwell Kerasilk Ultra Rich Daily Mask

Water/Aqua/ Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Steartrimonium Chloride, Mineral Oil/ Paraffinum Liquidum/ Huile Minerale, Isopropyl Palmitate, Laurdimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Keratin, Hydrolyzed Silk, Glyoxylic Acid, Cetrimonium Chloride, Amodimethicone, Panthenol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trideceth-12, Alcohol Denat., Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance/Parfum, BCC12-Base

Distribute the intense Mask through shampooed hair, leave on for 5-10 minutes, rinse thoroughly. 


  • Based on where this ingredient appears on the ingredient list (below the hydrolyzed silk), my guess is that there's less than 1% used in the formula. Straightening products that use this ingredient (for example, Goldwell's Kerasilk Keratin Shape) use 5 to 10%. The product instructions say to leave it on for 15 minutes and then blow dry hair to straighten.

    Considering the low level and the short length of application time, I really doubt this product provides a significant straightening effect. MAYBE  it could be helping to slightly defrizz the hair but I'm skeptical. 

    So why is it in there? It could just be for marketing reasons. The ad copy for the product states:
     "..."Kerashape Technology support the Kerasilk Keratin smoothing service for hair smooth like silk for up to 5 months." 

    If they have branded the glyoxylic acid straightening system as "Kerashape Technology" then they could support this claim by including that ingredient in the product whether it really adds function or not. 

  • Thanks a lot, RandyS! That helps a lot.

    I should have added that the product is marketed as "salon exclusive" and is meant as aftercare for keratin straightening/smoothing services, which is why the presence of glyoxylic acid got me a little worried, since all I'm interested in is conditioning.

    So you think that it shouldn't be in any way damaging to hair at such low concentration, if used as directed?
  • I doubt there's a problem but theoretically it can damage hair because glyoxylic acid can affect the structure of proteins (that's how it straightens.) It's impossible to say without testing. 
  • Thanks a lot, Randy!
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