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Product Ingredients


So, how do you actually identify sulfates and non-water soluble silicones on product labels? The list of formal ingredient names below will help you to stay on track and avoid purchasing products that are not suitable for optimal curly hair health.

Is It CG?Curlsbot and Curlscan are three resources that will provide an analysis of a product's ingredients label to see if it conforms to the universal no sulfate/no silicone rule of curly hair care.


However, these websites will tell you they are based on Lorraine Massey's "Curly Girl" book when, in fact, they aren't being that truthful with you. Lorraine's book talked about sulfates and silicones only; yet these sites have made a lot of additional "curly girl-friendly" declarations regarding product ingredients that Lorraine never said.

Personally, we don't know where these determinations came from, so when we look at these sites, we pay attention to what they say about sulfates and silicones only. Anything else is simply personal preference.

Our clients will tell you we are not in the least bit concerned about what “brand” you use. We care more that you commit to following the no-sulfate, no non-water soluble silicones guidelines than we do about what brand you buy, so always feel free to experiment and use the products that are best for you and your particular curls. We still experiment with different products ourself, as we suspect almost every girl with curls will do for the rest of her life!

Sulfates/Anionic Surfactants
A surfactant—sometimes referred to as a detergent—is a substance that, when dissolved in water, gives a product the ability to remove dirt from surfaces such as the human skin, textiles, and other solids. There are several different types of surfactants, ranging from harsh to mild, with sulfates belonging to the class that is the most harsh.

Common sulfates and anionic surfactants, the harshest of the detergents, as found on hair product ingredient bottles include:


  • Alkylbenzene Sulfonate

  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate

  • Ammonium Xylenesulfonate

  • Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate

  • Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate

  • Potassium Lauryl Sulfate

  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate

  • Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate

  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate

  • Sodium Dodecylbenzene Sulfonate

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate

  • Sodium Myreth Sulfate

  • Sodium Stearate

  • Sodium Xylenesulfonatee

  • TEA-Dodecylbenzene Sulfonate


Some milder surfactants—less drying and recommended in lieu of sulfates—include:


  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine

  • Coco Betaine

  • Cocoamphoacetate

  • Cocoamphodipropionate

  • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate or Cocoamphodipropionate

  • Lauroamphoacetate

  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate


Silicones generally end in -cone, -conol, -col, or -xane and are found in many hair products. If any silicone name has the abbreviation “PEG” or “PPG” in front of it, however, it is water-soluble and will not build up.

Silicones that are not soluble in water, will consistently build up on the hair and will require a surfactant-based shampoo to remove include:


  • Cetearyl Methicone

  • Cetyl Dimethicone

  • Dimethicone

  • Dimethiconol

  • Stearyl Dimethicone

  • Trimethicone


Silicones that are not soluble in water, but whose chemical properties allow it to repel further deposit, helping to prevent buildup (although they will still lock moisture out of the hair and require a surfactant to remove):


  • Amodimethicone

  • Cyclomethicone/Cyclopentasiloxane

  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone


Silicones that are slightly soluble in water, but can possibly build up on some types of curly hair over time, include:


  • Behenoxy Dimethicone

  • Stearoxy Dimethicone


Silicones that are soluble in water and can generally be considered safe to use (in addition to those listed with “PEG” or “PPG” in front of them) include:


  • Dimethicone Copolyol

  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane

  • Lauryl Methicone Copolyol


An additional note about proteins: Some curly hair types, especially those with a medium or coarse hair texture, are also sensitive to proteins, which can cause some curly hair to become dry and brittle. They are best avoided if any adverse effects are noted.

Common protein ingredients include:


  • Collagen

  • Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein

  • Hydrolyzed Oat Protein

  • Hydrolyzed Silk Protein

  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein

  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

  • Keratin

  • Keratin Amino Acids

  • Silk Amino Acids

  • Silk Protein

  • Soy Protein

  • Wheat Amino Acids

  • Wheat Protein

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