- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Following are some commonly found ingredients in hair-care products:

• Cationic polymer: A chemical compound that helps deposit other ingredients onto the hair shaft. (A polymer is a water-soluble adhesive.) Label names include polyquaterniums or guar hydroxypropryltrimonium chloride.

• Fatty alcohol: A chemical compound consisting of a string of many fatty bonds and one alcohol bond that delivers moisturizing properties onto the hair shaft. Creamy in texture, this is found in skin cream and moisturizers as well. Common names include cetyl alcohol, coconut alcohol, stearyl alcohol or oleic acid.

• Ethanol: A water-loving volatile alcohol used to deliver styling polymers onto the hair shaft. It quickly evaporates so it does not cause dehydration.

• Oil: A liquid found in plants or minerals that provides moisturizing benefits to the hair shaft. An emollient, or smoothing agent, it is put in to make the cuticle or outer layer of the hair lie flat and help the hair feel smooth. Common ingredient names include isocetyl stearoyl stearate, isopropyl myristate, mineral oil, petrolatum, glycerin and PEG-60 hydrogenerated castor oil.

• Proteins: A complex chain of amino acids and nitrogen-related particles that add gloss and luster to the hair shaft. They are derived from a variety of natural sources such as milk, keratin and silk. Common label names include hydrolyzed keratin, hydrolyzed soy protein and hydrolyzed whole wheat protein.

• Pro-Vitamins: Precursors to vitamins A, B and E that penetrate the hair shaft to help strengthen the cortex layer, increase tensile strength and make hair more flexible and elastic. Common label names are biotin, pantethine and panthenol.

• Silicone: An organic compound used to coat the cuticle layer for smoothing and filling in the layers. Benefits include ease in combing, combating frizz, protecting against damage and promoting shine. Common names include dimethicone, trimethylsilyam odimethicone and dimethicone copolyol.

Source: Pantene Co.

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