Hairstyling Products: Basic Knowledge You Should Know

Hairstyling Products: Basic Knowledge You Should Know
Written by
Morgan German

Unlike before, rather than dealing with a sole role, i.e. styling hair, hairstyling products nowadays strive to work beyond the hair beauty aspect and advance towards multifunctional goals. It is beneficial to grasp the essential knowledge of your hair styling stock, such as the main ingredients or how they work.

This blog will walk you through the basic knowledge, the current trends and some small tips for effective and beneficial use of your hair styling products. Hopefully, you will know what to look for the next time you choose one.

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Hairstyling Aids: An Overview

Hairstyling products vary depending on the physical form, application performance, and the effect on the hair or styling equipment to accomplish desired styles. However, one general use of styling aids is that they should hold a hairstyle in place without inducing a negative impact on the look and feel of the hair, such as messy and dulling. The aids also support creating a body, volume, or control when creating or modifying a hairstyle. 

Naturally, hair has smooth, shiny cuticles that allow the hair to slide over each other. By styling your hair, you alter that natural quality leaving hair more rough and frizzy.

Meanwhile, the increasing attention to hair wellness has led to demands for all-in solutions. Hairstyling products now need to contribute to moisturizing, nourishing, and offering reparative benefits rather than solely styling use. In addition, for those who are appearance-conscious and time-poor consumers, hair styling products must help them manage tangled and frizzy hair.


Hairstyling Products: Then vs. Now

Previously, a hairstyling product worked mostly towards creating the holding effect. Even though we now still desire the hard-hold effect, a more natural feel is often more desirable. Also, aligning with changes in lifestyles and perceptions about beauty, our standards for hair styling products have become more diverse than before. Indeed, there is a wide selection of the different choices depending on hair types, hairstyles, and degrees of hair status. 

In general, the basic formulas for hair styling products might remain the same. Though, they may consist of lighter levels of polyols with an addition of low levels of styling polymers and herbals extracts, proteins, and other additives. Those creations intend to tame hair while giving just enough moisture to induce healthy and undamaged hair even with long-term use.  

Thanks to the advances in the cosmetic industry, hair styling offerings have improved constantly in both quality and quantity. For example, the formula could change to respond to the level of present damage. The rougher the hair, the smoother, creamier, or more detangling the product will be. In the meantime, fine hair may require lighter formulas or formulas that offer increased body potential. On the contrary, if you have high hair density, you may expect extra detangling from a styling aid to allow easier combing. 

Also, secondary use in original hairstyling products is now a norm due to the upgrading in formulas. For instance, curl activators are often for moistening and enhancing the orientation of the curled hair. But now, they should enable more organized curls while taming frizzy hair for a secondary purpose. 

A good hair styling product is expected to be easy to apply, compatible with the desired additives or system, and effortlessly removed from the hair. Buildup, unnatural and unwanted look and feel are big no-nos. 

 

A Closer Look Into Hairstyling Products 

As discussed above, expectations for hairstyling products have grown beyond the styling functionality. This may sound old now, but it is always beneficial to look at the ingredients list if you are looking for a styling aid that both you and your hair love to have. 

Below are some common ingredients that you can easily find in most hairstyling products.


Polymers

Polymers consisting of very large molecules (macromolecules) are originally used as fixative agents and viscosity controlling additives in hair care. Yet, today they play more important roles in hair conditioning and style control products as new polymers have been introduced into hair care.

Polymers for styling products are often soluble in water or alcohol blends. For the polymers to be effective, they must be able to adhere to the hair otherwise you will experience flakes on the cuticles. 


Parabens

Parabens (including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropyl paraben, and isobutyl paraben) contribute as preservative ingredients in many hair care products. 

There are increasing concerns regarding the existence of parabens in cosmetic products. Research has shown that they may hold androgen antagonist activity and genotoxic activity. However, there is limited evidence that parabens pose a threat to human health. Based on currently available scientific information, claims that parabens are involved in controversial health concerns are considered premature. 

Meanwhile, offering a nature-derived hair care solution, our Scandinavian Biolabs’ products are always free from parabens so that you can enjoy peace of mind regarding this ingredient.

 

Silicones

Another ingredient you might consider when checking your hairstyling products is silicones. 

For styling aids, silicones act as a protective seal by coating the strands and leaving your hair a glossy and smooth finish. This ingredient may also be great for improving manageability and reducing hair breakage during wet combing.

That said, one noticeable issue with silicones is that some of them can be challenging to wash away thoroughly. Problems can arise when buildups persist on the hair shaft due to this washing issue. Indeed, silicones can be categorised into three groups according to their ability to be removed with water.

To curb the residue problems caused by silicones, you may want to consider steering clear of those belonging to the stubborn group, such as dimethicone or simethicone. Instead, look for those easy-to-rinse ones, and you can sit back enjoying the benefits of your hairstyling products.



Proteins and alcohols

Although hairstyling products are for styling purposes, you may want to acknowledge the protein contents and short-chain alcohols lying in them.

Protein-rich products, which are the most common in “quick drying” protein gel formulas, support the cuticle by filling up broken spaces and adding structure to the entire length of the hair strand. That said, overusing them can cause protein overload, resulting in breakage due to hair dryness. 

Short-chain alcohols (e.g., ethanol, propanol, isopropanol) are sometimes called drying alcohol. This group of ingredients is used in hair styling products as an additive since they conveniently help decrease the drying time and ensure the proper and even spreading of the products on the hair. 

Yet, due to their drying characteristics, they may cause roughness for cuticles. As these alcohols simultaneously remove oil and water from the hair shaft, they induce the potential problem of hair dryness and frizziness. Haircare brands may introduce more moisturising ingredients into their hairstyling products, ensuring their functionality while eliminating unwanted effects of the alcohols.

 

Quick Tips For Effective Use Of Your Styling Aids 

To choose a suitable hair styling product for your hair, understanding what type of hair you have is a need. Either relaxed or fine hair tends to do better with lotions and spray or mist-type heat protectants, while thicker or coarser strands often require creams and serums with a bit more weight. 

For effective use of hair gels, there are some points you might need to consider in advance to increase their conditioning power. First, your hair needs to be clean and conditioned before applying gels. Then, you can apply a moisturizer, oil, or other hydrating product to the hair before the gel to curb potential drying qualities. Another way to achieve that goal is to combine the gel with butter or oil before use to promote conditioning and nourishing qualities on the hair. Noticeably, once the gel has set hard or dried on your hair, make sure you always re-mist your hair to weaken the gel before combing through or re-styling.

You should note to yourself how your hair feels after using protein-rich products. When your hair becomes rougher, more rigid, more breakable, and less pliable, the alteration is another more moisturizing and less protein-heavy product to reinstate your hair’s natural elasticity and moisture balance. 

Pay more attention to the right amount of hair styling products in your daily use. A little can go a long way. You should avoid applying too much at the early stage since you can add more later until achieving the hairstyle you want. Putting it on bit by bit in several applications is desirable and more manageable.


Conclusion

Hairstyling products play a vital role in forming and holding your hair in different styles. In practice, their uses can be at almost any point in a hair care regimen: to start a hairstyle, refresh or change a hairstyle, and hold (fix) a hairstyle. In addition, they are expected to contribute to hair moisturization, nourishment, and other reparative benefits. 

There are changes related to this kind of hair product regarding ingredients, formulas, and uses. Ingredients are chosen and added based on hair types, hairstyles, and degrees of hair damage. The products also are used in a new way simultaneously with the traditional uses when they can be for restyling hair or making hair more organized and less frizzy. A good hair aid must ensure that it can be easily washed up and keep the natural appearance of the hair. Lastly, to avoid damaging your hair, the formulas of hair styling products nowadays also include low levels of herbals extracts, proteins, and other additives in their ingredients list.

Regarding ingredients in hairstyling products, polymers act as one of the main ingredients since they help hold the hair in place to get the desired style. Silicones are another vital ingredient that helps your hair achieve a glossy and smooth finish, but without proper removal, your hair can easily get dry. Also, beware of short-chain alcohols and protein overload. You may need to make sure not to overuse your protein-rich products while adequately moisturising your hair to make up for the drying effect of alcohols. 

To use styling products effectively, you need to know your hair types and information related to the chosen products. Avoid applying them too much at the beginning. Instead, you can go bit by bit so that you can avoid heavy, flaking, and dry hair later on.

 

Disclaimer:

The information we provide is not intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, cure or diagnose any disease or condition. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult your doctor.

References:

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Johnson, D. H. (Ed.). (2018). Hair and hair care. Routledge.

Martiny, S. (2002). Acetylenic polymers for hair styling products. International Journal of cosmetic science24(3), 125-134.

Robbins, C.R. (2012). Polymers in Hair Products. In: Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-25611-0_8

Darbre, P.D. and Harvey, P.W. (2008), Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. J. Appl. Toxicol., 28: 561-578. https://doi.org/10.1002/jat.1358