What’s Inside That Magical Anti-Tangle Hair Spray
Adults, there is no shame in using baby products. Johnson’s No More Tangles spray is specially formulated to untangle the hair of toddlers, who begin losing their fine baby fluff at age 2 or 3 and grow thicker, knot-prone locks in its place. Just what parents need, right? Something to make bath time even fussier. But that recalcitrant hair can bedevil us the rest of our lives. This bottle is filled with compounds that make hair easier to comb—whether you’re a grown-up or are growing up. The irritation-free formula is easy on the eyes too.
The kryptonite of tangles, BTMS is a molecule derived from rapeseed oil, and it’s engineered for super-desnarling properties: Its positively charged head cozies up to keratin, the negatively charged protein in hair, and its long carbon-chain tail (22 carbons!) coats the strands, making them slippery and their knots easy to untie. Considering its effectiveness, BTMS is surprisingly mild and kid-friendly. What’s the downside? It can have a fishy odor, but a little fragrance can easily cover that up.
BTMS’s partner in crime—they’re so tight that BTMS is often mixed with cetearyl alcohol before it’s sold to manufacturers like Johnson’s. A combo of two chemicals, cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, it’s an emulsifier that helps stabilize the whole formula.
Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid
What’s the point of no more tangles if you end up spritzing yourself with mold and bacteria? A preservative like sodium benzoate keeps nasty pathogens out of the spray, even as the bottle sits in the warm, moist petri dish otherwise known as your bathroom. Citric acid lowers pH, which helps BTMS remain stable and kills a few uninvited critters too. These two widely used chemicals also show up in acidic foods like juice, soda, and vinaigrette—but don’t go putting this spray on your salad.
This is a two-for-one. Not only does the silicon-based compound make hair shiny, frictionless, and easy to comb, but it also keeps liquid from frothing up when sprayed. Because, c’mon, this is a hair spray, not a hair foam.
Another silicon-based hair-friction reducer. No, it’s not totally redundant. See, trisiloxane evaporates. So instead of clinging to hair and gunking it up, trisiloxane slowly wafts away, leaving dry hair softer and lighter. You’ll never know it was there.
Johnson’s spray consists of ingredients that have to cooperate. Polysorbate 20 is a stellar emulsifier that’s likely here to ensure a unified front. It binds to both water and oily compounds, forming a bridge between antagonistic types of molecules. There, now let’s all be friends and work this comb through that rat’s nest.
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