I recently purchased a new bottle of shampoo. As I looked through all of the varieties on the shelf, each of them promising to do something different--replenish dry hair follicles or cure oily strands, add volume or smooth frizziness, enhance shine or tighten curls--I found myself growing frustrated with the plethora of choices.
All I wanted was basic, natural shampoo, but all the marketing, not to mention the long list of unpronounceable ingredients, was getting in my way. I decided to do some research on the production of shampoo so that next time I faced the shelves of bottles, I would know exactly what to look for.
The formation of a shampoo begins in the lab. Cosmetic chemists decided what characteristics the shampoo formula should have: thickness, color, smell, cleansing strength, etc. Then they create the preliminary batches using water, detergents, and thickening, foaming, and conditioning agents, as well as certain special modifiers, preservatives, and additives. Water is the basic ingredient, constituting up to 80 percent of the formula. Next come the detergents or surfactants.