From a different tangle. . .
With the vast variety of hair types, comes a vast variety of tangles. Unfortunately, not all of our tresses are amenable to the same detangling solutions, and finding a product that works often requires many an experience of trial and error. Understanding which ingredients actually detangle, and recognizing the pattern in products that work for you, can save you time and strands – not to mention a sore scalp!
Experimenting is a must as your hair is unique, but knowing in advance what to look out for can be a well-needed shortcut to tangle-free bliss. Here's an intro to some of the top detangling ingredients – check the label of your products to see if your tresses are benefiting from them!
Cetrimonium chloride, cetrimonium bromide, and behentrimonium chloride
These cationic cousins are commonly found in conditioners, where they triple up as emulsifiers, conditioning agents and detanglers. They work by exploiting the electrostatic attraction between their positive charge and negative charges on the surface of your hair, to deposit themselves onto the strands and create an ultrasmooth surface.
Blended into the formula at just the right amount, they can produce combability galore, as well as reducing any flyaway hair problems.
This handy ingredient is, like the above ingredients, a cationic quaternary compound. It works by adsorbing onto the surface of your hair, using the attraction between its positive self and your negatively-charged hair. But there's more: not only does behentrimonium methosulfate have detangling power to make your snarls melt away, it is also one of the most softening and lubricating ingredients around.
You will often find it blended into conditioners alongside fatty alcohols like cetearyl or cetyl alcohol which help it to adhere to your hair better, ensuring that the smoothness is lasting.
Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride
This water soluble ingredient derived from guar gum works similarly to the ingredients mentioned above. It is cationic, or positively-charged, so is attracted by our hair's negativity. Once it adheres to the hair surface, it forms a seriously silky layer which prevents hairs from becoming interlaced into further tangles. It also provides a protective seal over the hair as you comb through existing mats.
Bonus: guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride is also a pretty intense glossifier and very defining to curls. Unfortunately, for some tresses, its attraction to their strands can prove a little too strong, and it has been linked to buildup on some heads of hair.
Relatively new on the scene, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine has been touted as one of the greenest solutions to tangles going. Made from renewable resources, it works by lubricating the strand, allowing tangles to slide easily out as you comb or brush. As well as being a more eco-friendly inclusion in your conditioner bottle, it helps repair damaged hair, adds shine, and rinses out super-easily.
This super-slippery ingredient is made by boiling the root of this widely used herb. The resulting concoction contains much of the mucilage that's naturally present inside the root – that is what gives it its trademark gooey, slidey texture.
This gloopy consistency is of course perfect for giving hair that vital seaweedy feel for successful conditioning and detangling. Known for easing away knots where other detanglers have failed, its naturalness also makes it a favourite among green consumers.
Flax seed gel
Finally, here's another natural favourite. Made by boiling linseeds to release their mucilaginous contents, this soothing gel coats each individual strand for smoothness in combing. As well as increasing definition on curly hair, this ingredient also adds weight and can thus control volume.
Though its slip factor is a little lower than marshmallow root's, flax seed gel is very moisturizing and can even be used as a leave in or styler.
While each of these ingredients has worked its magic on many a head of hair, there is bound to be one your hair loves the most. So remember to scan your ingredients list before you purchase, pick products that contain each of these detanglers, and allow your hair to “date” them and see what happens. Keeping tabs on the smoothest contenders will give your hair the chance to get to know its true soulmate!
Wiechert Visser Visser
DHA Hair Care Experts