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Dictionary of Hair Care Ingredients: What Works for Hair?

The product label lists the ingredients in shampoos, rinses and styling products. This leaves open the question what these ingredients can do for hair. Our beauty dictionary helps you to find out what the listed ingredients can do for your hair

Of course, you have many times seen the names Aloe vera, Macadamia oil or ceramides. However, what is the nature of these care ingredients? What is the effect of coenzyme Q10? What is the source of Shea butter? Why is zinc an ingredient in so many anti-dandruff shampoos?
Today, cosmetics manufacturers use a vast array of substances, which are meant to give our hair more luster, volume and health. Every year, researchers add more active agents, which will finally find their way into tubes and vessels. We will therefore continue to update our little compendium of hair care ingredients. Here is the information we have collected for you so far:

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)

Aloe vera
Aloe vera plants do not only supply ingredients for hair care products. People also drink Aloe vera juice

Plant extract; rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids; provides hair with moisture and soothes the scalp

Apricot kernel oil (Prunus armeniacal)

The oil contains many valuable unsaturated oily acids. It is used for the care of dry and extremely stressed hair. It also improves the structure of curly and unruly hair


Some of the effects of carnitine resemble those of vitamins; it strengthens thinning hair and protects against hair loss

Ceramide (Ceramide)

Ceramides are lipids; they fill gaps in the outer hair cuticle. When added to shampoo or rinses ceramides can repair hair breakage 

Coenzyme Q 10 (Ubiquinone)

Autologous substance (substance originating from one’s own body); one of its effect is to boost the production of keratin, which is one of the building blocks of hair. As an active ingredient in shampoos and rinses coenzyme Q10 keeps the hair cuticles healthy; the hair is then shinier and easier to comb

Ginseng Root Extract (Panax Ginseng)

Ginseng root extract strengthens the hair, thus aiding in the prevention of hair breakage and split ends

Glycerol (also Glycerine)

Glycerol is a very effective moisturizing ingredient. It is used to moisturize dry hair and has an anti-static effect

Jojoba Oil (Buxus chinensis / Simondsia chinensis)

Jojoba oil is a plant wax, which is well tolerated by the skin. It makes hair smooth and easier to comb. Using Jojoba oil will not create a heavy oily film on the hair; another of its marvellous effects is re-aligning split ends

Keratin (Hydrolysed Keratin)

Keratin is a protein; it is the main building block of hair. Damage to the hair cuticle can lead to a loss of keratin. This can finally cause hairs to break. Keratin-containing hair care products can fill in gaps in the hair cuticle


Caffeine increases the activity of the hair roots and may even promote hair growth. It is mostly used in products, which are meant to prevent hair loss


The protein collagen is found in skin and hair. It is present in many shampoos and hair care products and works by coating hairs with a very fine protective film

Macadamia Oil (Macadamia ternifolia)

Macadamia oil is very rich and contains many natural lipids. It works well in cures for the repair of brittle and extremely damaged hair

Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus amygdalus dulcis)

This is a relatively light oil for the intensive care of very stressed fine hair; almond oil does not weigh down the hair

Olive Oil (Olea europea)

This is linoleic acid-containing top quality oil; it makes hair smooth and shiny. Linoleic acid is known for its anti-inflammatory effect


Panthenol is a moisture-binding and soothing substance and keeps more moisture in the hair. It also makes hair look healthier

Silk Proteins (Hydrolysed Silk)

Silk proteins make hair look shinier

Sesame Oil (Sesamum indicum)

This oil contains a lot of linoleic acid, which is known for its anti-inflammatory effect. This makes the oil ideal for sensitive thin hair and an irritated scalp

Silicone (e.g. Dimethicone)

Silicones are synthetic substances, which form a protective film around hairs and in this way make the hair cuticle appear smoother, make it easier to comb the hair and provide great luster. They can also temporarily re-align split ends, thus helping to keep the problem in check

Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii)

The high-quality oil is extracted from the nuts of the African Shea tree; the oil has a high vitamin E and carotene content. Shea butter makes even extremely unruly and stressed hair look smooth, silky and shiny

Wheat Protein (Hydrolysed Wheat Protein)

Wheat protein preparations are also rich in unsaturated oily acids; the preparations make hair shinier and easier to manage; they also strengthen damaged hair

Wild Rose Oil (Rosa canina)

wild rose oil
Linoleic acid and vitamin A are only two of the many valuable ingredients of wild rose oil

The oil is rich in unsaturated oily acids and vitamins; it provides shine and conditioning for dry and curly hair

Zinc Pyrithione

In medicine, zinc pyrithione is used as remedy against psoriasis and eczema. It is also used in shampoos to suppress dandruff problems

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