Friday, March 25, 2011

What's in Shampoo - The Plant-Based Alternative To Silicones

Guar Gum has a faint yellow color.
The plant is as edible as green beans.
If you've been following this 'Whats' in Shampoo' series, you may remember me mentioning at the end of the last installment that there is a plant-based alternative to (one of the popularly used) silicones.

Meet Guar Gum
Guar Gum (INCI: Guar Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Chloride) is sourced from the seeds of the guar plant (Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba). The gum is made by grinding the the tissue produced inside the seeds of beans. Guar gum is approximately 75% dietary fiber. Added to shampoo or conditioner, it helps thicken the product (which is nice) and condition the hair (which is even nicer). It is film forming (read: creates a protective layer), helps against static electricity and aids combing out both wet and dry hair. And, it's good for all hair types. Sound a little like dimethicone? You are absolutely right. Guess what else guar can do. It also has the amazing ability to bond to the hair, and can – just like dimethicone – create build-up on hair.

Oh No!! 
Oh yes. If you use guar gum products on your hair non-stop, (guar shampoo followed by guar conditioner), you will get build-up. However, there is absolutely no need to panic. If you use a clarifying shampoo (a silcone and guar-free shampoo) on a regular basis (about once a week), you should be fine. A clarifying shampoo does not have to be harsh to work! It just has to be free of silcones and, well, guar gum. By the way: feel free to replace the words guar gum with silicone in the above paragraph at your leisure. The information will be equally correct.

A True Life Story: The Mystery of the Disappearing Hair Color
For years, my hairdresser and I couldn't understand why the supposedly permanent hair color he used would sometimes fade and disappear almost completely before my next visit. He switched brands. It happened again. And again. But not every time. It took a bit of detective work on both of our parts, but we finally discovered the cause: it was guar gum build-up. If I had by chance consistently washed my hair with a guar shampoo and used guar conditioner for a period of time before having my hair dyed, the color wouldn't be able to penetrate the guar layer. My hairdresser had switched suppliers a couple of times, convinced there was something wrong with the product, when the whole time it was my all natural, plant-based shampoo and conditioner exhibiting the exact build-up symptoms that a silicone product can create.

What He Said - What I Think
From my hairdressers point of view, a layer of guar is no different than a layer of silicone. I'm inclined to agree, although personally, I prefer the idea of a plant-based, environmentally friendly ingredient creating build-up on my hair to a synthetic one. But that's just me. As for build-up... yeah, I've had it, but I washed it right out of my hair – and it didn't even hurt.

LisaLise Products with Guar
Lavender Hair & Body Wash, Geranium Silk Hair & Body Wash, Herbal Energizer Hair & Body Wash, Leave-in Conditioner

Any More Shampoo Stuff?
Next time, I will go over some of the additional ingredients that can be found in some of my Hair & Body washes – and that will conclude this mini series about shampoo and lathery products. If you want to read the other installments of the 'What's in Shampoo' mini-series, please find them here:
What's in Shampoo - Should We Care?

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