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Shampoo and Hair Conditioning Ingredients You Need in Your Haircare Routine

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

We use shampoos and conditioners as part of our haircare routines all the time. When was the last time you payed any attention to which ingredients are found in your shampoos and conditioners. Most people just pick up the nearest pretty-looking bottle from a 'trusted' brand. But it's important to know which ingredients are good for you.

Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate

In shampoos, anionic surfactants are used to remove dirty and sebum from the hair and scalp. Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonatee is a cleansing agent. It's a surfactant, similar to sodium lauryl sulfate - however it varies in carbon chain length.

You see the harshness of surfactant's depends on the molecules chain length.

Sodium lauryl sulfate has a chain length of 12 carbons, whereas (as the name suggests), sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate contains 14-16 carbons in it's non-polar chain.

This means that this surfactant will be less harsh to the hair and scalp. Longer chained surfactants are less stripping to the hair, meaning that it is more likely to leave some natural oils, important for conditioning the hair.

This ingredient is added to shampoos to cleanse the hair, however, can also be used in 'cleansing conditioners' which claim to be much kinder to the hair.

Argan Oil

Traditionally used in cooking, this natural oil has amazing hair and skin care properties and is now used in so many mainstream cosmetics.

Argan oil is made up of fatty acids (such as oleic and linoleic acid) , which nourish the hair shaft and scalp. They moisturise the hair, leaving it feeling silky and smooth.

It also contains some vitamin E, which is a common antioxidant. It can create a thin film on the surface of the hair shaft which locks in moisture and helps with frizzy hair. The vitamin E also protects the scalp from sun damage, which most of us won't reap the benefits of, however if you're known for having a strong middle or side part during the summer, it prevents your scalp from burning.

Cetearyl Alcohol

Cetearyl Alcohol is actually a combination of two ingredients found together: cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol.

Cetyl alcohol has 16 carbon atoms. Stearyl alcohol has 18. Cetearyl alcohol is a combination of the two, so it has 34 carbon atoms in total.

Don't let the word 'alcohol' scare you here. It's simply relating to the chemical stature of these molecules. in fact, they're fatty alcohols. Meaning that they are southing to the hair and provides moisture by trapping it in.

This ingredient is ideal for adding 'body' to the hair, and giving a soft-touch feel - ideal for dry and dull hair.


Vitamin B5 (aka Panthenol) is a common ingredient in haircare products, with even whole haircare lines being developed from the idea of this singe ingredient.

Vitamin B5 is actually a humectant, which draws moisture from it's surroundings to provide the hair shaft with added moisture. They form hydrogens bonds with water (intermolecular bonds) with water, which prevents excess water form evaporating from the surface of the hair.

Particularly effective for those with brittle or fine hair, but it is a common ingredient in most hair products.

This ingredient is perfect for anyone struggling with damaged, dry and frizzy hair.

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