Everything you need to know about The Ordinary hair care
We talk to Prudvi Kaka, Chief Scientific Officer of DECIEM, about new hair care products from The Ordinary, how shampoos and conditioners actually work, sulfate misinformation, and what’s in store (and in store) for hair care. ‘to come up.
Maybe you heard about it online, browsing Instagram; or you spotted a hint of something in store. Our favorite science-backed skincare brand, beloved for its no-frills formulas and affordability, has launched something special: haircare.
But you might have also spotted something additional interesting about one of the new items being rolled out – the cleansing shampoo wholeheartedly embraces the usually avoided sulfate ingredient.
This immediately caught our attention. So, to get to the bottom of the stuff behind surfactants and emulsions, we spoke to Prudvi Kaka, the scientific director of The Ordinary’s umbrella parent company. DECIEMto learn more.
What to know about The Ordinary hair care
“Haircare has traditionally been marketed with quick fixes that target short-term appearance, with scalp care often being overlooked,” says Prudvi Kaka.
There’s been a shift in the industry to emphasize the importance of treating the scalp like any other area of skin – it’s calling it scalp ‘skinification’. Previously an overlooked step in a hair care regimen, poor scalp skin often leads to a variety of issues. Maintaining optimal scalp function is key, he tells us.
You can do this by protecting the skin barrier, as well as effectively cleansing and moisturizing. The Ordinary hair care products are formulated with minimal ingredients to help you do just that.
Using the new hair care products, a simple regimen might look like this:
- 4% Sulfate Regular Hair & Body Wash gently and effectively cleanses hair and body, removing all dirt, grease and product residue.
- The Ordinary Behentrimonium Chloride 2% Conditioner, a simple product that does not leave a heavy feeling on the hair.
- and The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, a one-of-a-kind, water-light formulation that enhances scalp hydration and provides skin barrier protection without sticking to hair or weighing down roots.
“Our goal,” Kaka tells us, “is to encourage our audience to focus on scalp care through the same lens applied to their skincare.”
Read on to see what else he had to say.
Q&A with Prudvi Kaka, scientific director of DECIEM
How do shampoos and conditioners actually work?
Surfactants, or surfactants, are amphiphilic, meaning they consist of a hydrophobic (water-hating) tail and a hydrophilic (water-loving) head. This unique chemical structure allows them to clean effectively.
Sulfates, a popular class of surfactants, are very effective cleaning agents that break down and remove dirt and other impurities, due to their ability to dissolve the barrier between dirt, oil and water. Most of this dirt, including oil, is insoluble in water and cannot be removed effectively by water alone.
Ordinary Sulfate 4% Body & Hair Cleanser was developed to cleanse the scalp and hair and remove unwanted oil, environmental buildup and residue from hair care products.
Hair is naturally negatively charged and when it comes in contact with the opposite charge of a conditioning agent such as behentrimonium chloride [the main ingredient in The Ordinary’s Behentrimonium Chloride 2% Conditioner]the attraction then the neutralization of the charges results in the deposit of the conditioning molecule on the hair shaft.
This adhesion to the hair shaft ensures that the conditioner remains on the hair even after rinsing with water, and the hydrophobic part of the conditioner molecule provides additional benefits.
Conditioning agents can help flatten the cuticle scales on the hair shaft, reducing friction between fibers and protecting them from damage caused by friction during combing and styling.
So what are the sulphate detractors saying?
At DECIEM, we lead with science first and hold ourselves accountable to educate and help consumers make their own informed skin and hair care decisions.
The anti-sulfate messages can be attributed to the sharing of misinformation and possibly even misunderstandings regarding the safety and environmental impact of these incredibly effective ingredients. As a result, the products are marketed as being “free” of ingredients that, when formulated correctly, should not be avoided.
Some common misconceptions relate to the irritation and stripping potential of sulfates. Sulfates are safe to use in hair care applications, provided they are intentionally and correctly formulated for their intended use, and appropriate irritation testing is performed by the product manufacturers, what we do at DECIEM.
With the right formulation techniques, cleaners containing sulfates or derivatives can be created to produce a highly effective product with gentle, gentle cleansing.
How can The Ordinary’s new products allay potential concerns?
The surfactant content of other shampoos on the market is usually between 10 and 20%. Concentrations at this level increase the drying effect, which must then be counteracted by adding other ingredients, such as occlusives and silicone-based compounds, to the formula.
The Ordinary 4% Sulfate Body & Hair Wash features a low concentration of 4% sodium laureth sulfate (SLES-2) for a minimalist formula. It provides gentle yet effective cleansing for all hair types without the need for additional bulky ingredients which over time can aggravate residual buildup on the hair and scalp.
Why is the cleanser for both body and hair?
The cleansing function is similar for body and hair – it just needs to be able to dissolve the barrier between dirt, oil and water to remove buildup from the skin, scalp and hair.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA for Scalp?
Typically, hair care products contain several ingredients that are washed out during the hair washing process.
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA for Scalp is a milky serum that contains a combination of ingredients that mimic the function of natural moisturizing factors [elements that keep the outer layer of the skin protected and well-hydrated] as well as hyaluronic acid and squalane, which are naturally produced in the skin.
These combined ingredients help hydrate the skin and support the barrier function of the scalp.
We love the sound of the “Everything is Chemistry” campaign. Can you tell us more about the initiative and why DECIEM decided to empower the “clean beauty” movement?
DECIEM has taken a science-driven approach since its inception in 2013. Our “Everything is Chemical” campaign was our way of publicly expressing what we as a team have always known, including highlighting the unclear definition “clean” beauty.
After struggling for beauty transparency for so many years, the growing trend of “clean” beauty felt like a step backwards. We believe in sharing experimental, reproducible, science-based evidence to formulate our products, and we are not influenced by “no” or “no” marketing campaigns.
We consciously strive to avoid selecting information to advance an agenda. Instead, we choose to trust the many scientists who go to a monumental effort to assess a comprehensive body of evidence – regarding the safety of the products you know and love.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Prudvi Kaka is the scientific director of DECIEM. He received a Bachelor of Pharmacy from Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University in India and holds a postgraduate degree in Biotechnology from Centennial College in Toronto, Canada. He has worked at DECIEM since the company was founded over seven years ago and now oversees all areas of a product’s lifecycle, including concept, research and development, manufacturing and distribution.
You can shop The Ordinary’s latest hair care products and more from the brand’s online site and physical stores in Hong Kong. You can also browse the brand’s products at Sephora Hong Kong in line and at the store and to Harvey Nichols.