It's All In The Ingredients. . .
Every so often, we take a look at top haircare ingredients and see why they work so well - or don't.
This week, we'll be looking at not just one ingredient, but a whole formula. And what better place to start than with the crema de la crema of Dominican conditioners, Silicon Mix. Yup, that little jar in the colours of la bandera and sunshine; the one that put the DR on the map as a haircare haven.
Our goal with this It's All In The Ingredients series is to allow any of our readers who so chooses, to become a mini ingredients expert, a beacon of truth out there in the wild wild web of internet misinformation.
To get these articles as soon as they drop and get a behind-the-scenes dose of truth to protect you from some of the dodgy hair advice floating around, join us here:
With that, let's get to the ingredients and what they do.
Full Silicon Mix Ingredients List:
Aqua, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Mineral Oil, Stearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Fragrance, Dimethicone Copolyol, Cyclomethicone, Keratin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Ceramide, Citric Acid.
Cosmetic ingredients lists are written in descending order, which means that the ingredient at the top of the ingredients list is the one the product contains the most of, while the very last is the one it contains the least of. There's more on this in our how to read an ingredient's list article.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Water
Also known as aqua (its INCI name), water is the most widely used cosmetic ingredient. Here, it serves as the base of this conditioner which, like most, is an oil-in-water emulsion. When applied to your hair, water is the only ingredient (except if your hair is damaged) on the list that penetrates deep, providing your hair with moisture and plasticity.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Cetyl Alcohol
Don't worry, despite the name, this ingredient has nothing to do with the drying alcohols everyone in the natural hair community is warning you away from.
Naturally derived from palm kernel and coconut oil, cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol - the good kind that doesn't dry out your hair or scalp. It behaves completely differently to short chain alcohols, like ethanol or methanol.
Chemically, cetyl alcohol does have an -OH group, which is what technically makes it an alcohol, but that's about the only thing it has in common with what we conventionally think of as alcohols. Cetyl alcohol doesn't have the same acrid smell, it's a solid, not a liquid, and not only is it not drying, it's one of the most moisturising ingredients around.
That emolliency is one of many reasons why cetyl alcohol is one of the most popular ingredients in hair conditioners. Looking at its primary position in this formula, you can see cetyl alcohol's role as an emulsifier, blending water and ingredients that are usually water-hating like silicone and oils together.
It also helps keep the formula stable, and helps the cationic surfactant (cetrimonium chloride) to rinse off your hair when it's done conditioning. That's due to its mild cleansing powers: cetyl alcohol is also the main cleanser in many co-washes.
As ingredient number 2, this classic conditioning ingredient helps forms the base of this powerful conditioner and has a big impact on how Silicon Mix works on your hair.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Cetrimonium Chloride
Ingredient number 3 is cetrimonium chloride, a cationic surfactant; an ingredient that binds ingredients together that naturally won't mix. In the case of this conditioner, it helps bind the emollient cetyl alcohol to your hair and makes it more miscible with water. The 'cationic' part of its name indicates that this conditioning ingredient has a positive charge. That's what makes it so attracted to your hair, which has a naturally negative charge - especially the damaged bits.
Cetrimonium chloride enhances your hair's wettability, crucial for drawing moisture into your strands. It's also responsible for the moderate detangling ability, aka slip you'll notice when you use this conditioner. This ingredient is so powerful it's usually used at very low concentrations but still has a strong conditioning effect on your hair.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Mineral Oil
Aka paraffinum liquidum, this is a clear, oily liquid made up of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons. In hair products, mineral oil used for its occlusion: the ability to slow down moisture loss, which helps keep hair hydrated for longer.
Now, some of what you've heard is true; this ingredient is extracted from crude oil. However, the kind of mineral oil that ends up in your conditioner or leave in isn't just some petrol byproduct. Despite the negativity this ingredient gets from plenty of naturals, modern cosmetic grade mineral oil is highly purified, with no nasties and comes from a very specific part of the oil that is isolated and refined just for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.
The end product is nonirritant and noncomedogenic — unlike many other natural oils, making mineral oil one of the safest haircare ingredients.
When it's used in very high quantities, as happened in many leave ins and conditioners from back in the day, mineral oil can get greasy. But when you look at its spot on this ingredients list, after the cetrimonium chloride which is used at very low percentages, there's no chance of this oil making your hair feel greasy or weighed down.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Stearyl Alcohol
Like cetyl alcohol, this is a fatty alcohol, used for its nourishing, stabilising, emulsifying and emollient properties. It has mild cleansing abilities and is one of the reasons Silicon Mix feels so rich, yet rinses off your hair without detectable residue. This gentle ingredient also helps nourish your hair and keep your conditioner creamy and blended.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Glycerin
Clear, liquid, sticky and sweet, you might have childhood memories of this as a sore throat remedy. A natural ingredient that forms the backbone of every oil or fat in nature, glycerin is also technically an alcohol (though this classification is not always used for it, it's the reason for the 'ol' in its alias, glycerol).
Like the fatty alcohols higher up in the list, glycerin doesn't dry out your hair. In fact, it does the complete opposite. Glycerin is a humectant which means it draws water into your hair. Inside the jar, this trait makes it bind water and the combination that results is then easier to bind with the other ingredients in the formula.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Fragrance
This is the proprietary mix of aromas that give Silicon Mix its distinctive, slightly musky scent, reminiscent of the vetiver that grows on the island. The actual components of cosmetic fragrances don't have to be listed on the label unless they contain an irritant. But like most cosmetic fragrances, it likely contains a mix of aromatic components derived from natural essential oils and synthetics.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Dimethicone Copolyol
Dimethicone copolyol is a water-soluble silicone, which helps the more hydrophobic ingredients in this conditioner blend easily with the water-loving ingredients. It also helps make the conditioner easier to rinse from your hair.
This is not a heavy silicone or one that will make your hair a lot smoother. It isn't an ingredient that you really feel the effect of on your hair; its job is more to help the rest of the formula play together nicely.
Silicon Mix Ingredients: Cyclomethicone
Cyclomethicone is not one specific silicone; it's actually a mixture of different silicones. In the typical cyclomethicone mix, there are three kinds of low molecular weight, cyclic siloxanes (that means they have a chemical structure that consists of a ring shape).
Cyclomethicone is extremely light and does its job in this formula seven times over, as a carrier, an emollient, a humectant, a solvent, a thickness-controller, and an antistatic ingredient. It's also a conditioning ingredient in its own right.
DHA Hair Care Experts