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What are the Most Common Conditioner Ingredients?

Micki Elizabeth
Micki Elizabeth

There are ingredients common to nearly all types of conditioners as well as those that can be found only in certain brands. Proteins, also called reconstructors, are commonly considered to be essential conditioner ingredients. Water, trace amounts of compounds like glycerin and oils from herbs and fruits are other common conditioner ingredients.

Hair conditioners, often used directly after cleansing shampoos, are used to protect and restore hair while making it more manageable. Soft, pliable hair is generally sought after and may be achieved through the use of the various types of conditioners available on the market. Each of the many standard conditioner ingredients may result in specific benefits to the hair.

A bottle of conditioner.
A bottle of conditioner.

One of conditioner’s general purposes is to restore hair health, possibly resulting in a more desirable texture and appearance. The body produces hair with a protein known as keratin. Reconstructors like hydrolyzed proteins may be able to bond to the hair, strengthening the strands. This occurrence can result in hair that is thicker, more pliable, and easier to manage. Furthermore, by fortifying strands with the same substance from which they are made, proteins can protect hair from everyday damage caused by the environment or styling products and tools.

A thickening conditioner may help add volume and body to a person's hair.
A thickening conditioner may help add volume and body to a person's hair.

Most consumers also look for conditioner ingredients that will moisturize the hair, leaving it soft and smooth. Water is a moisturizer, and it is almost always the first ingredient listed on conditioners of all types because it is the ingredient found in the highest levels of the product. Glycerin is sometimes added to conditioner to help water bind to the hair.

Various types of oils are also common conditioner ingredients. Like water, oils moisturize hair; they also add shine and texture. Silicone-based oils are a typical item found in conditioners because they are long-lasting, but they may weigh down fine or thin hair. Those with color-treated hair should be aware that silicone could strip hair of chemically-enhanced color. Many brands boast natural oils such as tea tree oil or those made from fruits, particularly from the citrus family. Natural oils tend to be of a lighter weight and may work better for those who wash their hair often or have fine strands.

While moisturizers and proteins are the most common elements, the list of other possible conditioner ingredients is extensive. Certain brands claim specific hair benefits through the use of specialized conditioner ingredients. For example, some hair types tend to tangle easily, and people may wish to use a product containing detanglers. These ingredients help to acidify the hair, giving proteins a better chance of reaching full potential. Other types of conditioners may promise shiny hair and will contain larger amounts of polymers to reflect light that hits the hair. Still other brands could contain certain perfumes to infuse the hair with an attractive aroma.

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    • A bottle of conditioner.
      By: Irina Brinza
      A bottle of conditioner.
    • A thickening conditioner may help add volume and body to a person's hair.
      By: Anastasia Tsarskaya
      A thickening conditioner may help add volume and body to a person's hair.