Q: Should you read more than just the first five?Amaka, 'I definitely agree that sometimes people get too caught up in ingredients but sometimes i think it's worth looking past the first 5 - like my hair doesn't really like protein and even in products where protein is 10th on the list it reacts.'
A: If you are avoiding something specific (like silicones or SLS or protein) or if you are allergic to something (like coconut oil) then yes you do have to scan the entire list. You do not have to absorb every name on the list, just look to see if it contains what you are avoiding. After scanning the list, go back and focus on the top five.
Q: What if further down the list there are ingredients you like?
Mintii, 'If you're reading the ingredients of the product, and further down the list includes the oils people praise for using within your hair (coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc) would it still be worth it to use that product?'
A: I really think that there is no straight forward answer. More often than not it is done for marketing purposes. Consumers want to read natural ingredients and therefore the manufacturer gives it to them. In truth the usefulness of oils (except silicones) usually applies before conditioning hair and after conditioning hair.The conditioning process relies most on surfactants, hydrolysed proteins and humectants plus ingredients for slip.
Q: What if water is not the first ingredient?
Anon: 'My hair is softer when the first ingredient (in conditioner) is NOT water; when water is third or further down the list, my hair is baby hair soft.'
A: The product is definitely working for you but the ingredient listing is most definitely questionable in my eyes. Water usually accounts for the largest portion. If you have items like surfactants (behentrimonium) or thickeners (cetyl alcohol) listed first, then the consistency and feel of your conditioner should be extremely odd, I would predict sort of waxy with a particle feel. Seriously check with the manufacturer and establish if the list is really accurate.
Side note - The exception to the rule: Animal products!
Animal products are not regulated in the same way as products for human use. If you are using products such as megatek, the ingredient labelling does not have to follow strict rules or even be present.
Q: Why do products with the first five ingredients work differently?
Anon: 'I've used two conditioners that have the SAME first three ingredients, yet one product left my hair dry, the other moisturized. What's your opinion of why that occured?'
A: Great question - the reason for the difference is what is known in the industry as formulation.Formulation is the process of determining how much of each ingredient to put in (as well as the mixing process).
For example one product may have 2.5% surfactant (e.g behentrimonium) while another will add 3%. As slight as these differences are, it may be magic for one person's hair and not for the other person. The manufacturer lists the ingredients in descending order meaning the ingredients may appear in the same place on two different jars but this does not tell you exactly how much is in the formula.
My best tip, read the label claims. If the ingredients are what you like and the label says for colour treated hair but what you want is something for dry hair, leave that product and find one that is formulated for the effect you are looking for.