The truth about ingredients in shampoos 

Silicones, sulphates and parabens

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The world of hair care offers a multitude of products designed to help us keep our hair looking healthy, shiny and beautiful. Today, shampoos are veritable high-tech products that can easily contain up to 30 ingredients. The growing interest in sulphate-free, silicone-free and paraben-free shampoos therefore makes perfect sense. Here, we take a closer look at these ingredients and answer the most important questions about them. Let us show you how to recognise them and explain their purpose in hair products.

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Silicones in shampoo

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Silicones are widely used not only in shampoos, but also in conditioners, hair treatments, styling sprays and the like. But what are they really? The term 'silicone' refers to a group of synthetic polymers in which silicon atoms are linked via oxygen atoms to form molecular chains and/or networks. This diversity of possible compounds results in a wide range of properties that make them suitable for use in hair care products.

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Silicones are used in many conventional shampoos and conditioners to make hair manageable, soft and smooth. They form a kind of protective film around each strand, ensuring a smooth surface and a silky feel. Silicones also contribute to reducing frizz , i.e. the uncontrollable sticking out of hair, and shielding it from heat and environmental influences. They add shine to dull hair and facilitate detangling, making it easier to comb through. By coating each strand, silicones can also add lightness, volume and bounce to the hair.
To identify silicones in shampoos or other cosmetics, it's essential to check the ingredient list. Most silicone compounds have names ending in -cone, -siloxane or - conol. Typical representatives of this class include dimethicone, cyclohexasiloxane or dimethiconaol, with dimethicone being the most frequently used silicone in hair care products.

Why use silicone-free shampoo?

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The positive effects that silicones in shampoo and similar products can deliver may seem appealing at first. It may therefore come as a surprise when some ask why silicones in shampoo are not a good idea. For a start, silicones are largely considered safe.

However, there are compelling reasons for choosing silicone-free hair care products. Although silicones and silicone derivatives "coat" the skin and hair, which makes them feel soft and smooth, they also seal off pores and hair cuticles, thus impeding the penetration of valuable nutrients. This is, why silicones also make hair more difficult to colour. Some users also report that silicones "weigh down" their hair and result in the accumulation of product residues that are difficult to wash out.

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Furthermore, silicones are not particularly eco-friendly, as some of them are poorly biodegradable. They can accumulate in water, posing challenges for wastewater treatment and potentially finding their way into rivers or lakes. Silicones used in wash-off cosmetic products such as shampoo are said to pose the greatest environmental risk.

It therefore makes sense to opt for silicone-free shampoos, such as those from lavera. Firstly, silicone-free shampoo too can help smooth the hair, imparting a glossy appearance and a silky feel without weighing it down. Secondly, silicone-free shampoos are often kinder to the environment, being easily biodegradable and leaving no harmful residues. Last but not least, using silicone-free shampoos can also help to keep your hair healthier in the long term.
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Do lavera shampoos contain silicones?

In certified natural cosmetics, we consciously refrain from using silicones in our shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments. We prioritise natural ingredients such as plant oils, proteins, peptides, amino acid derivatives and botanical extracts that can be absorbed by the skin and hair, and offer silicone-free shampoos, conditioners and treatments that gently cleanse and condition the hair. What's more, our formulas are vegan, free from microplastics and easily biodegradable.

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Tip for switching to silicone-free shampoo 

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Be patient! Your hair may look a little stressed during the transition and take a short while to adjust.

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What purpose do sulphates serve in hair care?

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Sulphates are a subgroup of surfactants. They are what gives a shampoo its cleansing properties. Their primary purpose is to eliminate oily dirt and grease from the hair. Through their unique structure, they can make oils and fats soluble in water. Dirt particles, including residues from styling products, become water-soluble and are eliminated from the hair when rinsed with water. Furthermore, sulphates are highly water-soluble. They also ensure that shampoo lathers up well and can be easily distributed throughout the hair.

But be careful: Due to their strong detergent effect, sulphates can strip the skin and hair of natural oils, which can contribute to dry hair and a dry scalp. This is why you should not use sulphate-containing shampoos on a daily basis.
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To find out if a shampoo contains sulphates, simply check the list of ingredients on the label. Commonly used sulphates include sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) and ammonium lauryl sulphate (ALS).
Sodium laureth Sulphate (SLES) is a surfactant used in many shampoos and conditioners to cleanse the hair of oily dirt and grease. It is closely related to sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and has similar detergent properties. Although SLES is considered a milder surfactant than SLS, it can still dry out the scalp in some people. When choosing the right shampoo, make sure you always consider the specific needs and characteristics of your hair type.
Conventional cosmetics mainly use sulphates such as SLS and SLES, which have strong detergent properties, produce a lot of foam and, most importantly, are inexpensive. However, these can irritate and dry out the skin and there are environmental concerns. By contrast, natural cosmetics use milder sulphates that are more eco-friendly and better tolerated. They tend to be a little more expensive as they are obtained from plant sources and the extraction process is often more complex and costly.
The surfactants or sulphates used in lavera products are mild, easily biodegradable and well tolerated. They are derived from renewable raw materials and represent an eco-friendlier and gentler alternative to more aggressive, synthetic surfactants. Our natural alternatives to SLS or SLES include sulphate surfactants (e.g. sodium coco-sulphate, SCS) derived from coconut oil. As other alternatives to synthetic surfactants we use include sugar surfactants (e.g. decyl glucoside) and betaines (e.g. cocamidopropyl betaine).

How do I know if a shampoo contains parabens?

To determine whether a shampoo contains parabens, simply look at the list of ingredients. They are easily recognisable by their suffix, "-paraben", e.g. "methylparaben", "propylparaben" or "butylparaben".

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Why is it better to use paraben-free shampoo?

Although parabens are generally considered to have the lowest allergenic potential as preservatives, some people may still experience allergic reactions to them. In addition, there are concerns that butyl and propyl parabens may affect the endocrine system. (Amended Safety Assessment of Parabens by the European Commission Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety – SCCS). This means that parabens can mimic the effect of hormones such as oestrogen in the human body and thus upset the hormone balance. Although the scientific consensus is not yet conclusive in this regard, many people prefer to use paraben-free shampoos out of caution. Parabens are banned in certified natural cosmetics, such as those from lavera.

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Benefits of silicone and paraben-free shampoos

Using silicone and paraben-free shampoo can have various benefits: For example, it can help minimise potential health concerns. Here at lavera, we use essential oils, among other things, as a natural alternative to parabens. Silicone-free shampoo leaves your hair feeling smooth and silky the natural way. At lavera, this effect is achieved through the use of vegetable oils (e.g. argan oil, macadamia oil or jojoba oil), proteins (e.g. pea protein), and plant or plant-based conditioning substances such as guar gum (INCI: guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride) or rapeseed oil (INCI: PCA glyceryl oleate). 

Dispensing with silicones is not only better for your hair but also for the environment. Sulphates and surfactants are essential to the detergent effect of shampoos. However, mild surfactants are a better choice, as they are gentler on the skin and the environment. lavera uses natural alternatives such as sulphate surfactants, sugar surfactants or betaines. lavera shampoos, hair treatments and conditioners are silicone-free, paraben-free and formulated with mild surfactants.

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