Water took the number 2 place on your top ingredients poll. Interesting since water can be both good and bad.
Why is water good?
1. Water is a fundamental part of hair - different books tell you different things but if we stick to Chemical and Physical Behaviour of Hair by Robbins, this is between 6 and13% depending on the humidity.
2. Water is thought to contribute to the flexibility and strength of hair.
3. Moisture in hair reduces static, meaning a frizz-free life!
How to use water?
I have not found any paper that recommends applying water to hair but studies of heat treated hair do show that hair needs to be re-wetted in order to get back its internal moisture level. I therefore suggest that perhaps using water on hair that feels dry is good.
How not to use water
1. Hair especially weakened hair is more likely to break when wet combed - handle it gently (Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings, pg 2–5, 2007)
2. Wet combing is just as damaging as dry combing, the difference arises only in how the hair is combed. Conditioner combing works because of the thickness of the conditioner and partly because of the conditioning agents. It is not about the water. (Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings, pg 2–5, 2007 and International Journal of Cosmetic Science, pg 76, 2008)
3. Hygral fatigue (keep reading!) is thought to be damaging to hair. It arises from wetting hair, letting it dry and repeating the cycle several times. It is suggested that hair expands and contracts several times during this process and could weaken hair.
4. Chlorine in water can damage the protein in hair leading to weakened hair.
The one thing that does fascinate me is deep conditioning. Usually this is said to allow penetration. Penetration of what I wonder? My scientific mind says to me that water is the only ingredient that would probably be good. Therefore I'm putting up a new poll and if you do deep condition, do tell me, why do you and what are your results?