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Waxes
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In the ingredient descriptions: Good means that I like to see this in a product's list of ingredients. Okay means this product appears safe for a curly person like me to use. Caution means that this ingredient may not be good in some hair care products, or for some people. Avoid means this ingredient may hurt your hair. If you see this ingredient in a hair product, it's best to put it down and walk away.

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Waxes   
Caution
Waxes can be made from many different things, including animals, plants, and even insects (such as beeswax). They are used to thicken or stiffen a product (like lipsticks). It rarely causes an allergic reaction, but it may with very sensitive skin, or if the person is allergic to the source of the wax. At room temperature wax is hard, but softens at warmer temperatures. Wax is insoluble in water, (and only partially soluble in boiling alcohol) [Winter 7th ed pg 546].
Waxes are often used in conditioners to form water-proof films over surfaces, which prevents water loss, which makes them moisturizing and conditioning. They are often used to stiffen products, and to keep them from separating. They are also often used for their appeal as natural products.
According to Hunting (Conditioning), some true waxes are Jojoba oil, Lanolin, Cetyl Esters, Myristyl myristate, and Stearyl stearate. "Wax-like" ingredients are Emulsifying wax nf, Ozokerite, and Paraffin [Hunting (Conditioning) pg 423].
Waxes can be difficult to shampoo out of hair if there is a high concentration of it in a product, such as one containing lots of beeswax, and may build up with repeated use. Wax mixed with clay can be very hard to get out of your hair. Many products made for starting locs contains lots of beeswax, and may be really hard to get out of your hair.

See also: Beeswax Cetyl esters Jojoba oil Lanolin oil Myristyl myristate Stearyl stearate Emulsifying wax NF Paraffin Ozokerite
Source(s): Winter



References:

Applewhite, Thomas H., ed. Proceedings of the World Conference on Lauric Oils: Sources, Processing, and Applications
AOCS Publishing, 1994.

Barel, André O., Marc Paye, and Howard I. Maibach., eds. Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology, Second Edition
Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2001.

Begoun, Paula. Don’t Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me. 3rd Edition.
Renton: Beginning Press, 2005.

Begoun, Paula. The Beauty Bible.
Renton: Beginning Press, 2002.

Begoun, Paula. Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me.
Renton: Beginning Press, 2003.

Bellum, Sarah, ed. The Beauty Brains: Real Scientists Answer Your Beauty Questions
New York: Brains Publishing, 2008.

Gottschalk, Tari E. and McEwen, Gerald N, Jr. PhD, eds. International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook, Tenth Edition 2004, Volumes 1-4.
Washington D. C.: The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragance Association, 2004.

Halal, John Hair Structure and Chemistry Simplified, Fifth Edition
Albany: Milady, 2002.

Hunting, Anthony L.L. Encyclopedia of Conditioning Rinse Ingredients.
Cranford, NJ: Micelle Press, Inc., 1987.

Hunting, Anthony L.L. Encyclopedia of Shampoo Ingredients.
Cranford, NJ: Micelle Press, Inc., 1983.

Johnson, Dale H. (Ed.). Hair and Hair Care, Cosmetic Science and Technology Series. Vol. 17.
New York: Marcel Dekker, 1997. Print.

Nnanna, Ifendu A. and Jiding Xia., eds. Protein-Based Surfactants: Synthesis: Physicochemical Properties, and Applications (Surfactant Science)
Madison Heights: CRC, 2001.

Quadflieg, Jutta Maria. Fundamental properties of Afro-American hair as related to their straightening/relaxing behaviour.
Diss. U of Rheinisch-Westfälischen Technischen Hochschule Aachen, 2003.

Schueller, Randy and Perry Romanowski, eds. Conditioning Agents for Hair and Skin.
New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 1999.

Winter, Ruth M.S. A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients: Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals
New York: Three Rivers Press, 2005.

Zviak, Charles., ed. The Science of Hair Care (Dermatology)
New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 1986.

 

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