Many of you must remember the entry of Livon hair serum in Indian market. I think it was the first product of its kind that was marketed to retail shops besides being available in salons. It claimed to give you shiny hair and make hair detangling easier by providing slip to the hair. Now a days you can find a hair serum from every brand and there are lots of them to choose from. But is hair serum good to use in long run, that is question that comes in everyone’s mind. So lets see today what are hair serums made of and are they good for curly hair.
Hair serums claim to give you frizz-free, managable and easy to comb hair and are made of silicones as a base. People with curly and wavy hair who follow the routine of combing their hair when it gets dry after wash find the claims interesting enough and resort to using serums on hair. But with time some of them start feeling that their hair is curling less and becomes more dry and looks life-less. It happens because of continuous use of serums on hair which causes build up on the hair. This build up comes from the silicones present in the serums. Silicone coats hair strands and make a film so that hair does not absorb water from air and become frizzy and because of this film hair looks shiny temporarily. So, it works superficially on hair. With time, depending on type of silicone, these keep building up on hair and do not let the moisture penetrate the hair and makes the situation worse. You can read more about different types of silicones in the post Silicones in hair care.
Hair Serum composition
As I have explained in the other post on how to read the product labels, ingredients in a product are always mentioned in the descending order of their concentration. So, if you see hair products like shampoo and conditioner you will notice water as the first ingredient as these contain maximum percentage of water in them. Unlike these products, serums contain silicones as their first two to three ingredients so these are made of around 90% of silicones or may be more than that. The small percentage is covered by oils, other emollients like C12-15 alkyl benzoate and fragrance ingredients.
Not much of a difference
Let analyze a few hair serums that are available in India and see how little these differ in their composition in spite of huge difference in their price. All of them contain silicone as their main ingredients and have very less percentage of natural oils.
Livon Moroccan Silk Serum
First three ingredients are silicone which are Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol and Diphenyl dimethicone. Check out their packaging, it is being marketed as moroccon silk serum that is made of argan oil although the argan oil is mentioned pretty much down in the list. Which means argan oil must be around 1-2% in the whole product. So, be aware of marketing claims
Moroccon oil treatment
Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Butylphenyl methylpropional, argania spinoza kernel oil, linseed extract, fragrance supplement, D&C Yellow-11, D&C Red-17, coumarin, benzyl benzoate and alpha-isomethyl ionone.
This one comes with a big price tag. Its main composition is silicone which are first three ingredients and these are pretty much same in any other hair serum in the market. Does it justify their price tag and make it different than other brands?
Matrix Biolage smoothing serum
Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, Persea Gratissima/Avocado Oil, Vitis Vinifera/Grape Seed Oil, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Coumarin, Linalool, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hydroxycitronellal, Amyl Cinnamyl, Geraniol, Alpha isomethyl ionone, Isoeugenol Benzyl Benzoate, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Parfum/Fragrance.
Again C12-15 alkyl benzoate is an emollient which works as oils to provide slip and it is used at the level of 1-5% in a product. So everything mentioned after this one must be used at percentage less than this. All the ingredients mentioned Limonene onwards are present to make the product fragrant. So, this one must be having silicone around 95%.
Kérastase Elixir Ultime
Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Zea Mays / Corn Germ Oil, Argania Spinosa Oil / Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Camellia Kissi / Camellia Kissi Seed Oil, Pentaclethra Macroloba Oil / Pentaclethra Macroloba Seed Oil, Linalool, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene, Coumarine, Benzyl Alcohol, Parfum / Fragrance.
Although it claims to have different oils like Corn germ oil, Argan oil, Camellia seed oil and Pracaxi Oil however these must not be present in very high concentration. Finally it mostly is silicone that you would be buying.
L’Oreal X-Tenso Care Intense Nutrive Shine Serum
Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butyl Phenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, Geraniol, Parfum/ Fragrance.
In this one, most ingredients mentioned Linalool onwards are used to provide fragrance. So it is just pure silicone that is present in there.
Curly hair is naturally dry hair and always needs more moisture to keep it healthy. We already know that silicones can cause build up on hair and do not let the moisture penetrate the hair shaft. Also, because of the build up the hair loses its curly and wavy shape and makes it lifeless and weighed down. As you have seen here hair serums are nothing but silicones and contain high level (more than 90%) of it. So there are more chances of build up from them than any other hair products containing silicones. It is the worse thing that you can apply on your natural curly and wavy hair. We can replace these serums with natural vegetable oil to seal the moisture inside and nourish our hair without worrying about build up.