What makes a "moisturizing" shampoo?

anani1anani1 Member
edited September 2020 in Hair
Hello everyone.  
I have an African American customer with very curly, thick hair. She recently messaged me that my shampoo made her hair feel like straw and very dry. Mine is made with SCI and Cocamidopropyl Betaine along with a few extra goodies, including panthenol and hydrolyzed wheat protein. She sent me the ingredient list of the one she has been using. She said it's the only shampoo that she has tried that didn't dry out her hair etc. It's an inexpensive drug store brand, which is fine, but it seems a bit lightweight. 
I was quite puzzled by the following list of ingredients: It's marketed as a "Deep Hydration" Shampoo. Like a "moisturizing Spa Treatment for your hair". 

I'm puzzled for several reasons.

1. While it seems like a decent enough shampoo,  I don't see any ingredients that could be considered "deeply moisturizing". Any beneficial ingredients seem too far down in the ingredient list to be of much benefit. (Guar and Polyquaternium 6 are both below the EDTA)
2.  This shampoo contains all of the ingredients that "Curly Girl" followers consider to be taboo. (Sulfates and a Silicone).

3. What is the purpose of Sodium Citrate in a shampoo and why is it added as the third ingredient? My research tells me that it has a pH of between 7 and 9. I see Citric Acid further down the list.)  I noticed that Pantene Basic also has Sodium Citrate as the third ingredient. 

Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Citrate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Glycol Distearate
Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Sodium Chloride 
Coconut Fruit Extract
Corn Silk Extract
Mascula Flower Extract
Cocamide MEA
Sodium Xylenesulfonate
Sodium Benzoate
Citric Acid
Tetrasodium EDTA
Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
Blue 1

Sorry for the long post. Thank you in advance for any help in understanding this. 


  • Hi @anani1:

    1. I don't think the list of ingredients is in order of dosage; also, polyquats can bind to water once deposited on hair, glycol distearate also works as non-occlusive humectant, and dimethicone works giving some occlusive humectancy  
    2.  Sulfates are not the evil, they just need to be properly used in a formulation....and silicones are actually the best friends of curly girls

    3. Sodium citrate could work in two ways in that formula: as a water softener (only a weak one), and as part of a buffer system.
  • I am not even surprised. My friend who is all for natural goodness and persuaded that silicones are evil, absolutely loves kerastase hail serum. First two ingredients: cyclopentasiloxane, dimethiconol.
  • Ketchico, Thank you so much for responding.

    I agree with you about sulfates and I love Silicones in my hair products. Unfortunately both have been so badly, and unfairly vilified ... that I find it impossible to put out a formula with either of these ingredients without dealing with a ton of backlash.
    I also was somewhat confused about the ingredient order (which I copied straight from the bottle) and wondering it it was correct, but I examined a "Pantene Basic" ingredient list and it was nearly the exact same list in the same order. Sodium Citrate was also the third ingredient in that one.
    I'm still having a difficult time figuring out what benefit Sodium Citrate could bring to a basic shampoo. 
    Thanks again! :) 
  • anani1anani1 Member
    edited September 2020
    I am not even surprised. My friend who is all for natural goodness and persuaded that silicones are evil, absolutely loves kerastase hail serum. First two ingredients: cyclopentasiloxane, dimethiconol.

    Oh boy, do I get it. The Moroccan Oil is one of the most successful hair products on the market, touting the benefits of Argan Oil. That one is nearly all Silicones as well, with Argan falling in at about 1% - 2% . When I working in the Spa/Hair Industry we couldn't keep it on the shelves. At $40-ish dollars for a 100 ml bottle! Yes, it works (because of the silicone blend)  and the smell is to die for ...but Garnier puts out one that is almost identical for about $7.
    The magic of marketing! Moroccan Oil only had to put their product in a dark brown glass bottle (giving it the perception of being a natural product), create a very eye catching label, make it smell like heaven and slap a crazy price tag on it and voila. The hair stylists where I worked sold it like it was pure magic in a bottle. 
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    And the devil's preservatives are in it:
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Belassi - If only the fearmongers didn't scare people off parabens and formaldehyde donors. The usage of thiazolinones would have steadily disappeared. 

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