Having been around the beauty industry for pretty much my whole life, I have been educated over and over again on hair structure and products. Although it is all very fascinating to me, and I truly appreciate having the knowledge, I now realize just how complicated many large companies have made this industry. They use a lot of big words and even larger chemicals to compete against other large companies. This is more of a marketing strategy, to make the products sound more complex and professional. The strategy is to sound like a chemist to the clients, and look as though they are the best and most knowledgeable. The consumer then thinks, "These guys sure sound like they know what they are talking about, so they must be the best!"
Of course, after discovering the harm that these products cause due to their high quantities of SLS Products in them, I realize now that I do not have to think about "active ingredients", only natural surfactants and humectants. You really do not need all that technical mumbo jumbo in order to understand what makes your hair healthy. Here's what you do need to know;
Hair has 3 very important parts. There are many more, but these are the ones that I think are most important for you, the consumer, to know about. I'll start with the most important part, the follicle. Pull out a strand of hair and look at it closely. The end that came from the scalp has a little bulb on it. That's the follicle. It's like the feeding tube for the hair itself. It needs blood circulation to deliver nutrients. A lot of male baldness is caused by a loss of circulation to the scalp. I have personally seen new hair growth start to appear on a bald head through massaging the scalp. It also needs the nutrients from your body in order to grow healthy hair. This is why people with poor diets have thinning, dull hair, and why people with eating disorders lose their heads.
The next part is the Cortex layer. This one you can not see (you're in trouble if you can). This is the inner part of the hair that gives it strength. It's made up of every thing good or bad in your body, and can actually show us good or bad health, because it has been produced by the follicle. This is why I am always stressing to my clients that they should never strip the hair with a shampoo and crème rinse that contains harsh chemicals. It needs it's natural oils and it's natural moisture in order to maintain elasticity. These items also give hair it's body, it's ability to curl, and help it to grow long. I like to think of my hair as a result of what I've put into my body.
The third part is the cuticle. This is the outer layer of the hair, and the most mistreated part of all. It is constantly exposed to weather, pollutants, chemicals, as well as heat from blow dryers, tongs, and brushes. The list is endless what this poor part has to end. Unfortunately, it's also the most delicate. When you use a shampoo that contains chemicals that strip the hair, they open the cuticle, which robs the cortex layer of it's nutrients. The more the cuticle gets opened, the harder it is to shut it down. This results in more tangles, which then means more product is needed to eliminate those tangles, which means the more clogged it gets. Over time, the cuticle becomes weak, and can no longer protect the cortex. Then, the cortex weakens because it can no longer hold onto it's strength qualities, and that's when it breaks.
Now, take that hair you pulled out earlier and hold it between your thumb and fore finger. Then, with your other hand, slide your finger from the follicle end down the closed cuticle. Now, go in the other direction. That's the roughness of an open cuticle, Then, hold it at both ends and gently pull it, as if you are stretching a rubber band. If you have a healthy hair, you will actually see it stretch, because it has maintained a healthy balance of oils and moisture. The more damage, the less it will stretch. Severely damaged hair will just snap with no stretch at all, and that is why hair breaks off. Once you reach that point, there is no way to repair the damage. You can not repair a cuticle that is not there, no matter what. This is why the shampoo and crème rinse that you use is so important. If you're not stripping the hair in the first place, you will not have the need to spend hundreds of dollars trying to replace and repair it. Your hair has a natural balance, and it only makes sense to use a naturally balanced product to enhance it.