Guest Post from Women’s Health
With summer right around the corner, we have to take extra steps to protect our skin and hair to stay looking fresh and fabulous throughout the whole season! The June issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now, gives you tips and products to keep you protected and looking great head-to-toe and helps you decode the labels on the bottles you use every day! Women’s Health wants to make you an expert on all things summer!
Make sense of the fine print on your sunscreen tube
Ingredients like benzophenones, salicylates, snd cinnamates form a protective film to absorb UV rays before they penetrate the skin’s surface.
These work by reflecting the sun’s UV rays. Look for zinc oxide or titanium oxide.
Skin damage caused by sun exposure—like fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and the leathery texture seen on folks playing shuffleboard in Boca Raton.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
The number that tells you how much longer a sunscreen will keep you from burning than no protection at all. Say you normally turn pink after 1 0 minutes without sun block. SPF 15 would shield you 15 times as long as that—or for 150 minutes—before you start to burn.
Ultraviolet rays that penetrate deep into the skin and cause photoaging and skin cancer.
Rays that affect the outer layer of skin. Shorter than UVAs, they’re responsible for sunburns and contribute to skin cancer.
A new sunscreen-labeling system the FDA has in the works. Stars on labels will indicate the level (1 = lowest, 4 = highest) of UVA protection offered.
Sunscreen whose SPF remains effective after 40 minutes of immersion. “Very water- resistant” sunscreens remain effective after 80 minutes in water
No sunscreen is waterpoof; the FDA has suggested removing this term from labels.
Decoding your shampoo label
Usually the first item on a shampoo label, water is the base that keeps the other ingredients flowing. It accounts for up to 80 percent of what’s in the bottle.
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate/Ammonium Laureth Sulfate/Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
These surfactants–basically, a fancy word for detergents–are the muscles that do all the cleaning.
Cocamide DEA, MEA, or TEA/Cocamidopropyl Betaine
These milder foaming detergents are added to create suds. But they also moisturize and thicken the formula so the shampoo is easier to pour.
This buffering agent keeps the shampoo at the proper pH level (slightly acidic) as you wash. OK, now in plain English: SC allows dirt and oil to wash off and helps cuticles (the overlapping scales on each strand) lie flat so hair looks smooth and shiny.
These waxes are kind of like hunky Swedish masseurs: primarily there for look and feel. They’re what give the formula a pearly sheen and allow it to flow easily from the bottle.
These softening compounds–also found in some fabric softeners–thicken shampoos and condition hair.
Silicone oils that coat and smooth down the cuticles to add thickness, reduce static, and provide shine. Oh, yeah: They also make comb-outs easier. If you have coarse, curly, or damaged hair, make sure your shampoo contains one of these conditioning ingredients.
A form of vitamin B, this hard-working humectant (that’s a substance that helps hair attract and retain moisture) works inside and out: It penetrates the hair cuticle to plump it up and coats it for added shine.
Seeing the word alcohol may set off an alarm (Drying! Bad!). Not to worry: These are hydrating alcohols that attach themselves to the outside of the hair shaft and act as lubricants. Result: Combs effortlessly glide through hair.
Nut Oils/Shea Butter
These are super-rich natural moisturizers found in hydrating shampoos that coat cuticles so water stays locked inside.
Ascorbic Acid/Citric Acid
Natural acids derived from vitamin C that smooth cuticles and add shine.
Sunscreens added to protect your scalp and hair from nasty, chaos-causing UV rays–so your color lasts longer (yay!).
Myth vs. Fact
Experts spill the dirty little secrets behind the most common shampoo “truths”
“You need lather to know it’s really working.”
MYTH The more foam a shampoo produces, the cleaner your hair’s getting, right? Not exactly. You may love working up a good head on your head, but those suds are mostly created for psychological effect (Oooh, it’s cleaning!). Foaming occurs when surfactant molecules in the shampoo mix with air and create tons of tiny bubbles. Ideally, your head should have only enough lather to lubricate the hair and scalp, so a quarter-size blob of shampoo will usually do the trick.
“You should use a clarifying formula to get rid of buildup.”
PARTLY FACT Unless you’re using heavy-duty styling products, like pomade, mousse, or gel, regular shampooing prevents styling-product residue from collecting on your hair. If you do need a clarifier, don’t use it more than once a week. These detergent-heavy cleansers, which do such a great job of removing buildup, will also do a great job of damaging the hair cuticle.
“Washing every day can be bad for your hair.”
MOSTLY MYTH “Daily washing is safe and healthy,” says Mort Westman, the cosmetics chemist. If you have oily hair, it’s fine to suds up every day–but even oily types should use a gentle formula (translation: one with moisturizing ingredients, like silicones, shea butter, or panthenol). People with coarse or dry hair might want to be more conservative and wash every other day, says L’Oréal’s Youssef. No matter what kind of hair you have, as long as you stay away from harsh formulas that strip natural oils and treat your strands with conditioner, regular shampooing won’t do any harm.
“For best results, follow with a conditioner.”
FACT No, this isn’t a scam to sell you two products. Chemists can pack only so many ingredients into each bottle. And a shampoo can’t clean properly and deposit enough conditioner to moisturize your locks. Using a separate conditioner will coat strands with ingredients that hydrate and protect. BTW: If your hair’s super-oily, apply the thick stuff only from the ears to the ends.
“After a while, your hair gets used to your shampoo. That’s why you need to switch to a new brand occasionally.”
MYTH Honestly, where do people come up with this stuff? Let cosmetics chemist Westman set the record straight: “Hair is dead, period. So it can’t ‘get used to’ anything. It’s just your perception of how your hair responds to a new formula.” So if you love your brand, there’s no reason to switch.