You're probably familiar with the benefits of hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and salicylic acid for your skin. Now, what if we told you that the benefits of these ingredients extend beyond your face?
There's been a recent rise of popular skincare ingredients used in hair care products, such as shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. Some are aptly calling this wave the "skinification of hair." To find out if there are true benefits of adding these ingredients into your hair care routine, we tapped dermatologists and cosmetic chemists. Keep reading for a breakdown of the ingredients traditionally used in skincare that are now popping up in hair care and learn about their uses and benefits.
The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Hair
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that functions to retain moisture, explains Snehal Amin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. When used topically on the skin, it hydrates and makes the skin look plump.
When used in hair products, hyaluronic acid serves a similar function. "Hyaluronic acid is a power humectant, aka water magnet, that can help keep the scalp hydrated," says Alexis Stephens, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Parkland Dermatology and cosmetic chemist. She explains that hyaluronic acid can help reduce any scalp irritation, dehydration, or dryness, which can cause frizzy and dull-looking hair.
On top of the scalp benefits, Dr. Amin says hyaluronic acid can help increase the volume of the hair near the scalp and make the hair shaft plumper and appear thicker. "Since hyaluronic acid is unlikely to cause any adverse reactions, there's no reason not to try it," he says. "It's a moisturizer for your hair and scalp."
Dr. Stephens recommends trying The INKEY List Hyaluronic Hydrating Hair Treatment ($10, theinkeylist.com) as it's affordable and combats frizzy, dry hair.
The Benefits of Ceramides for Hair
Other popular ingredients for both skin and hair are ceramides. "Ceramides are waxy lipids that in skincare, work as an occlusive to seal moisture into the skin," explains Krupa Koestline, a clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants. As far as hair goes, it seals the hair shaft, locks in moisture, and protects them from external damage, like heat or styling damage. "There are also studies showing that ceramides in scalp care can help induce hair growth," says Koestline.
Try the Cuvée Beauty Première Treatment Masque ($40, nordstrom.com) made with a mix of ceramides, truffle extracts, pea proteins, and champagne extract to smooth and soften the hair.
The Benefits of Vitamin C for Hair
You might know that vitamin C is a stellar brightening skincare ingredient that helps to fade dark spots and make your skin look radiant. For hair, the benefits mainly revolve around this antioxidant's ability to protect against environmental factors. "Antioxidants help protect the scalp from ultraviolet and free radical damage, which can be particularly important in those with exposed areas of the scalp prone to skin cancer," says Dr. Stephens.
Dr. Amin says that the damaging effects of the sun can also impact the look and feel of your hair. "There are data to suggest that free radical damage from UV light exposure can damage keratin in the hair shaft leading to weak, brittle strands." A deficiency in vitamin C can also contribute to dry hair and split ends.
Vitamin C also has cleansing benefits, adds Koestline. "Vitamin C can help clarify the scalp and hair, but if you have colored hair, it can strip hair color." Plus, studies also show that vitamin C is necessary for healthy hair growth.
So, if you're looking to reap the benefits of this antioxidant, we recommend the Philip Kingsley Vitamin C Jelly Detoxifying Hair Scalp Treatment ($42, dermstore.com), which helps to deeply cleanse and strengthen the hair.
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The Benefits of Niacinamide for Hair
Another buzzy skincare-meets-haircare ingredient is niacinamide. "It's part of the vitamin B complex and is used in facial skincare products as a calming agent to help address inflammation and redness," says Branden Camp, MD, a board-certified dermatologist of MDCS Dermatology. "It has appeared in shampoos because of its similar effect on scalp skin to address irritated, sensitive scalps." It can also treat scalp conditions caused by inflammation, such as dandruff, adds Dr. Amin.
The Ouidad Bye-Bye Breakage! Strengthening + Thickening Serum ($30, ulta.com) is infused with niacinamide to promote healthy hair.
The Benefits of Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids for Hair
Using acids on your hair may seem counterintuitive and scary, but it can help make your hair and scalp healthier. Exfoliating acids to look out for are salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acids, such as citric acid. "On the skin, citric acid can function as an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and reveal healthier underlying skin," explains Dr. Camp. "On the hair, it can help remove build-up and debris to make hair appear shinier." As an acid, it can also help lower the pH of products to more closely match the slightly acidic pH of skin and hair and protect against damage.
Similarly, exfoliating acids prevent clogged hair follicles and build-up that causes flaking. "Salicylic acid can also help improve scalp circulation, excess oil, and inflammation," says Dr. Stephens.
We're fans of the Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Shampoo ($30, ulta.com), which is made with citric acid to transform damaged hair into looking and feeling strong, smooth, and soft.
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