How To Choose A Good Conditioner To Increase Hydration

Conditioners are vital to the hydration of hair. Some are better than others. This article will discuss how they work and what to look for in the ingredients list.

What Is A Conditioner And How Does It Work?

Conditioners are a hybrid form of oil and water. The technical terminology is emulsification of oils/ butters and water. The result is either a cream or lotion with droplets of oil dispersed in a water matrix AKA oil in water emulsion. They are important because they bring moisture (water) to the hair shaft along with a sealant (oil), which is needed to trap water in the hair cortex to reduce evaporation.  

The third critical ingredient to add to the conditioner is a humectant. Humectants have the capacity to bind water in the product and slow down evaporation. Typical humectants are Glycerin, Sodium PCA, and Sodium Lactate and each of them have a different capacity to bind moisture.

Table 1

Water Holding Capacity of Common Cosmetic Moisturizers
Hyaluronic Acid 388
Sodium Lactate 84
Sodium PCA 60
Glycerin 40
Sorbitol 21


It’s the combination of the conditioner’s emulsion and humectant properties that will actually drive hydration in the hair. 

What do I look for ingredients list of a conditioner?

  1. You want to see oils and butters present in the formulation. Mango Butter, Coconut Oil , Palm Oil are great emollients for trapping moisture into the hair shaft.   I would expect them to be within the first 5-6 ingredients.
  2. You want to see the humectant within the first 7 ingredients on the list. See Table 1.

Moisture Tip:  If the product has too much water and very little oils/butters and humectants, it will not add moisture to your hair.

You can’t give what you don’t have and the same holds true for hair conditioners. If they don’t have oils/butters and humectants, your hair can’t receive them. Period!

Skin Tip: Hair and Skin chemistry is very similar. If you want to test a hair conditioner apply it to your skin. If it feels watery and drying on the skin, it will most likely perform the same way on your the hair.

Breaking Down pH And How It Effects Hair Dryness

What Exactly Is pH And Why Do I Need To Be Concerned About It?

pH is the measurement of hydrogen ions present in a water-based solution.  It ranges from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic).   For a frame of reference, distilled water has a pH of 7 and is therefore, neutral.   Furthermore, apple cider vinegar has a pH of 2 and is very acidic, while sodium hydroxide, AKA “creamy crack” has a pH of 13 and is very basic. And, the pH of your natural, untreated hair is 5 – 5.5.


The pH of your hair products can raise or lower the cuticles on the hair shaft. For example, when you apply a relaxer to your hair, the pH will be13 and will fully raise the hair cuticle. Conversely, if you use an apple cider vinegar rinse, you will lower/ tighten the hair cuticle, which is why it’s great for high porosity hair.

But before I go any further, I want to discuss products formulated with oils and butters that do not have any water. In a nutshell, 100% oil based products do not have a pH level.

pH Fact About Oil: Oil does not have a pH because it doesn’t have any hydrogen ions present due to the absence of water. Therefore, oil products that are anhydrous will NEVER have a pH number associated with it.


How Does pH Effect Dry Hair?

So, if the hair cuticle is in a raised state (pH>5.5), the cortex is exposed, and moisture will rapidly evaporate from the hair and cause dryness and shrinkage. Excessive dryness due to raised cuticles will eventually lead to breakage.

On the flip side, if your hair cuticle is in a lowered state(pH<4.5), moisture adsorption is decreased. The cuticles are so tightly aligned on the hair shaft that they slow down the adsorption of moisture from the environment. It’s a small pathway for moisture to reach the cortex. Excessive dryness due to closed cuticles will eventually lead to breakage.

These problems (high and low pH) are on fleek during the winter months because of the lower humidity in conditioned air. The hot air we use to heat our homes inside during the winter months is dry and moisture will evaporate from the hair shaft.


So, What Can I Do To Keep My Hair Hydrated?

Ahem, well, my first suggestion is to buy CUSH Cosmetics shampoos and conditioners. And yes, it’s a shameless plug and of course, I’m biased!

Like everything in life, there is a sweet spot. Look for hair products that have a pH of 4.5 – 5.5, which is the pH of our Creme De Palme Curl Enhancing Creme.   That pH gives you the “proper” alignment of the cuticle to drive hydration. The cuticles are raised enough to allow moisture into the cortex yet closed enough to slow down evaporation.

If you have low porosity hair, you can use hair produces with slightly higher pH. Our Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar is a great shampoo to correct low porosity hair. If you have high porosity hair, you can use products with a slightly lower pH.

Tip: Use pH strips and test your hair product to understand its pH.  

Have fun and stay hydrated!

CUSH Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar: Why Customers Love It!

When we launched CUSH Cosmetics eight years ago, we introduced our Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar to customers. In fact, it was our only shampoo at that time. We were exploring different alternatives to liquid shampoo—primarily because we were looking for something different to talk about.

Fast forward eight years later and our customers are still loving and talking about how great this shampoo bar is—And here’s why!


“I love all Cush shampoos. But this Mango Babassu Shampoo, I love the most. I have type 4 hair, it’s natural, and I wash my hair every week.”

This is a quote from one of our satisfied customers who uses the bar weekly. The first thing you’ll notice is how gentle the Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar is, which makes it safe to use frequently. That gentle cleansing comes from the Babassu Oil that we get from Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest. We love to create a pampering, cleansing experience with “tried and true” botanicals that have been used to make soap for generations because they work…period!

Babassu Oil brings in an intense lathering experience—just like the experience you get when using a liquid shampoo, but without the SLS. However, gentle cleansing isn’t the only remarkable attribute of Babassu Oil—It’s also a rich, highly moisturizing and quickly penetrating oil that treats dry, itchy and inflamed skin. So you get both, great cleansing and nourished skin with one oil. But we didn’t want to stop there, we also wanted this bar to be conditioning and have some slip.


“Gave my thick, long, tangle-prone hair so…. much slip!” The shine is beautiful, as well.  The ingredients are very nourishing for your scalp/hair.  I absolutely love this poo bar; it is definitely a staple.

You might be asking, “How can a bar of soap have any slip?” Well, it depends on the bar—Thankfully, not all bars are created equally! As it is with all of our products, we like to add something extra that will add a nice little pop to our formulations, which is why we added Mango Butter. I can’t emphasize enough how conditioning and moisturizing this nutrient rich butter is when used to make soap.

It’s chock-full of oleic fatty acids that provide conditioning properties and stearic fatty acids that pamper your hair with a luxurious, creamy moisturizing sensation. All of that creamy lather is what gives this bar the slip you crave in a shampoo.

The Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar is a gentle cleanser that is very conditioning and moisturizing with creamy textured slip—everything our customers love!

But, we wanted to make sure this bar would also give you the CUSH difference that some natural products lack—High performance. Simply put, CUSH products are high performance, salon quality beauty products, and this shampoo bar is delivers with great styling features for curly hair and straight hair.


“This bar has a nice easy lather, but feels so moisturizing. It rinsed very easily and left my hair feeling clean but not stripped… and when I stepped out of the shower, very shiny and defined, soft curls. I hadn’t even DC’ed yet. This is my new staple for cleansing my hair! Love it!

 Soap has a bad reputation of being drying to both skin and hair. However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find this to be a myth when it comes to the Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar because it’s formulated without detergents such as SLS, which you will generally find in conventional bar of soap. We used Olive Oil, Wheat Germ Oil and Castor Oil to ensure that the Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar would deliver superior hydration and some styling properties. This shampoo bar contains glycerin—a natural humectant and by-product of the saponification process. With these four ingredients, you’ll experience great detangling properties and soft, well hydrated hair. Moreover, anyone with curly hair will have the added bonus of defined curls and those of you with low porosity hair will finally enjoy moisture.


If you suffer from low porosity hair, the Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar will gently lift your cuticles and bring in all of those amazing oils and butters to moisturize and soften your hair. Castile soap naturally drives hydration because it lowers the overall surface energy of water and allows it to travel easier through your hair and seal in the moisture that the Mango Babassu Bar brings with it.

So if you’ve tried this bar and loved it, would you please take a moment to write a review on Amazon or our website. And don’t forget to tell a friend.

Go Away Gray: The Gray Hair Pill

Have you noticed President Obama lately, or rather the fact that he now has gray hair?  It’s as if the gray just came out now where.   Admittedly, my first thought was that the job of being the POTUS has its perks…and obviously some quirks.  And while I expected   the stress to take its toll on him, I never thought I’d see it play out on his head. Hmmm- perhaps being the POTUS is not that glamorous after all. 


As usual, I am forever curious about how things work, so I thought I’d do a little research to see if in fact, stress really does make your hair turn gray, and what I found out is- No it doesn’t. At least not directly-there is still more research to be done in that area. 


Genes that Color your Hair Gray and Blue


And while, research has ruled out stress-it’s pointing a big ol’e menacing finger at genetics.  Remember when you were a teenager and, without merit, you blamed your parents for everything that went wrong in your life?  Well,  this time you can honestly blame them for making your days gray-or atleast your hair.


Due to heredity, it’s not uncommon to know someone (young, old, and everything in between) with gray hair.  Furthermore, although gray hair is common and hereditary, I was even more shocked to discover that ethnicity determines when the graying process will actually begin.  It turns out that whites tend to gray first, generally as early as their mid-30s, followed by Asians who tend to gray in their late 30s and lastly Africans, who tend to gray in their late 40s. 


 I still have a full head of natural, dark brown hair, so I rarely give gray hair a thought.  However, I’m sure some people with gray hair might obsess tirelessly about whether or not they should cover their gray with a hair colorant.   Well, if you’re one of those fretting people, your days of despair just might be over.


 If you’ve been spending countless dollars, time, and effort on expensive hair colorants to disguise the relentless gray hue that has taken your mane  (the one on your head and not the alternate pronunciation for man)- Your bank account and your nerves might finally be getting a big break.


A Pill for this… a Pill for that!   A Pill to get… my…. Color Back?


 It turns out that there’s a little supplemental pill on the market that promises to make it all go away-the gray that is, and get your hair back to the vibrant hair color that you were born with.  Whomever said you can’t fool Mother Nature, obviously has never met a woman who was determined to give gray hair a one way ticket down the shower drain.


Arise-N-Shine, a nutritional supplement company based in NJ, has developed an all-natural pill called Go Away Gray that promises to stop the formation of gray hair in its tracks without the use of hair colorants.  In addition, the company has also formulated a shampoo and conditioner that claims to wash the gray right out of your hair within a few months.


If these products work, this is huge news for many people because the color of our hair, right or wrong, seems to communicate something about who we are.  So the hype around this relatively new miracle pill is truly justified.  However, before I delve into the science behind Go Away Gray, I need to first discuss how the beautiful hues that color our tresses are made and what causes them to eventually turn gray.



Melanin Doesn’t Just Color Our Skin


As you are aware, your hair grows from bulbs of pit like structures called follicles and it gets it distinctive color from melanin, which your body naturally produces. There are basically two kinds of melanin-eumelanin, which colors your hair brown to black, and pheomelanin, which turns it blond to red.   The amount of each respective melanin determines the depth of the color in your hair follicle.


Needless to say, as with everything in your body, melanin is made up of cells called melanocytes.  When  we are young, our bodies produce lots of  properly functioning melanocytes.  But (like with most things in the human body), as we age, the melanocytes slowly stop creating an adequate amount of melanin and your hair loses its color -similar to the same synthesis that occurs with vitiligo.


Hydrogen Peroxide-Melanin’s Number one Enemy


In addition to melanin, your body also produces hydrogen peroxide, which is a natural bleach or whitening agent that counteracts with the melanin.  As long as you have enough melanin, hydrogen peroxide is basically harmless to your hair.  Conversely, if your body stops producing enough melanin, then hydrogen peroxide becomes enemy number one to your hair color.


Without enough melanin to counteract it, hydrogen peroxide will begin to slowly build up over time, and eventually bleach our hair from the inside out. 


So the big question is what actually causes peroxide to build up in the hair follicle  in the first place?


The Root of the Problem


Researches found that three critical enzymes contribute directly to the build up of peroxide in the hair follicles: Catalase, MSR A and B, and Tyrosinase.  When these enzymes become diminished (generally due to aging) naturally occuring hydrogen peroxide begins to build up and wreak havoc on your hair’s natural pigmentation.



The Importance of Catalase, MSR A and B, and Tyosinase on Hair Follicles


Catalase:  Our hair follicles need catalase to neutralize hydrogen peroxide by causing it to decompose into harmless water and oxygen, which is then excreted from the body. When we don’t produce enough catalase this metabolic process doesn’t occur and the peroxide goes unchecked and eventually builds up-tuning our hair gray.


MSR A and B:  When one defense system doesn’t work in the body, another one kicks in, which is the case with the methionine sulfoxide reductase A and B protein (MSR A and B).  The MSR A and B enzyme plays a critical role in repairing the damage gray hair follicle caused by hydrogen peroxide. However, if you don’t have an adequate amount, the hydrogen peroxide will continue to build up.


Tyosinase:  Tyosinase is needed to produce melanin in our hair folliclesHigh levels of peroxide coupled with low levels of MSR A and B and catalase will ultimately inhibit the production of tyosinase-ulitmately leading to lower levels of melanin.


As you can see, these three enzymes can cause a domino effect that leads to peroxide build up and the graying of our hair.  But again, thanks to this new break through pill, that might all be changing.


Is Go Away Gray the Fountain of  Youth for Hair?



Arise-N-Shine’s founder, Cathy Beggan says that Go Away Gray contains catalase as  the active ingredient  in her Go Away Gray supplement, shampoo, and conditioner.  And as you might have guessed, she suggests that simply replenishing the catalase that is lost during aging, will once again protect your hair follicles against the graying damage caused by hydrogen peroxide.


If you’re squeamish about actually popping the pill, then Cathy recommends her shampoo and conditioner as an alternate topical solution.   The reviews are mixed for the shampoo and conditioner and the only information I found on the supplement, Go Away Gray, was  that it had’t been approved by the FDA.  But don’t be too alarmed about that because most supplements are not FDA approved. 


If you do decide to use it, swing back this way and let us know how it worked out for you.



Science Daily

The FASAB Journal

Genetics Home Reference