Debunking Curl Myths with Brand Ambassador Irinel de León—Part 1

Sulfates & Silicones 

As both a professional hairstylist and curly girl consumer, I’ve done a good amount of research when it comes to products and the ingredients with which they’re made. One of the things I’ve learned is that sulfates, silicones, and alcohols are some of the common ingredients found in curly hair products. These ingredients have gained popularity amongst brands given consumers’ increased interest in whether their products are made with them because of their “harmful properties”—however, after a recent discussion with Ouidad’s Product development team, I learned that’s not always the case.

Some people may cringe at seeing the word “sulfate” in their products since it’s been commonly known to be a drying agent to the hair, but the fact is that not all sulfates are drying. Sulfates help cleanse and others strip the hair (ugh). SLS and SLES are definitely the most common offenders. However, it’s not a big deal if you use a shampoo with them in it if you really enjoy a deep clean feeling, but beware, this should only be done once in a blue moon. It will leave your hair squeaky clean but it strips your hair of natural oils and is very drying, which can lead to frizz and brittleness.

The good guys within the sulfate fam aren’t traditional “sulfates”, as they do the exact opposite and condition the hair. One of the best ones is Behentrimonium Methosulfate (BTMS). It is incredibly gentle and is one of the mildest detangling ingredients around, providing slip in a lot of your favorite conditioners. It’s not irritating to the scalp, doesn’t cause buildup, and is derived from ingredients you likely have in your kitchen (rapeseed aka canola oil).

Good sulfates:

  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate
  • Cetrimonium Chloride
  • Polyquaternium 11, 57, 10, 37 etc
  • Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine

 Bad sulfates:

  • SLS
  • SLES

Turns out, another well-known ingredient that could actually be good for the hair are silicones. Certain silicones are incredible performers that provide bounce, slip, detangling, and even heat protection which are very important. However, it’s important to be weary of certain silicones which can lead to buildup in the hair. There are wash-off silicones that have even been banned in some parts of the world because of their environmental risks to the water system. Whereas non-rinse off products are allowed since they’re applied to the skin or hair, posing a lesser environmental risk since the ingredients evaporate once dried, not leading to water risk. This doesn’t mean that you need to go dump everything with harmful silicones in it, but be mindful that you will want to incorporate clarifying shampoo into your routine every once in a while to wash away any potential silicone buildup.

Bad Silicones:

  • D4
  • D5
  • D6
  • Dimethicone

Sometimes looking at the back of ingredients lists could feel like you’re trying to crack a sci-fi case, but understanding that there are good and bad ingredients will be helpful next time you’re purchasing products—just bookmark this page or copy and paste the lists above for reference. I’m happy to know Ouidad creates products with all of these precautions in mind so you can rest easy knowing that the ingredients are always safe for your curls.