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Reading the Fine Print in Your Quest for Healthy Hair

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If you want strength

Ceramide

What is it: A complex lipid or fatty oil found naturally in the hair

What it does: Holds cuticle cells together to protect the inner structure of the hair

Product Pick: Soft Sheen Carson Break-thru Anti-Breakage System, $6.99, drugstores nationwide.

Dimethiconal Methionine

What it is: An amino acid

What it does: Protects the hair shaft and fortifies the cuticle

Product Pick: Nexxus Y Seum Younger Looking Hair Treatment, $20, 800-444-NEXXUS

Triamine Complex

What it is: A patented formula containing the same 19 essential amino acids found in our hair

What it does: Protects hair from styling damage by fortifying cuticles and detangles and conditions without weighing down the hair

Product Pick: Joico K-Pac Strengthening Tonic, $13.95, 800-80-JOICO

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If you want Conditioning


Avocado Oil

What it is: A triglyceride (natural fat, similar to those found in our body) that is easily absorbed by the hair and scalp and is rich in vitamins A,B,D and E.

What it does: Lubricates the hair and scalp

Product Pick: Burt's Bees Avocado Butter Hair Treatment, $9, burtsbees.com

Horsetail

What it is: An herb containing calcium and high levels of amino acids

What it does: Strengthens and conditions

Product Pick: Hairobics Hair and Scalp Leave-In Conditioner, $19.99, hairobicsallnatural.com

Stearly Alcohol

What it is: A fatty alcohol with emollient and moisturizing properties

What it does: Keeps hair hydrated

Product Pick: Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Nourishing Conditions, $3.99, drugstores

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If you want Moisture

Jojoba Oil

What it is: An oil with a molecular structure small enough to penetrate the hair and scalp

What it does: Moisturizes

Product Pick: Barry Fletcher Liquid Moisture, $14.50, barryfletcherproducts.com

Panthenol

What it is: A vitamin

What it does: Gets inside the hair shaft to keep the cuticle moisturized

Product Pick: Luster's Pink Oil Moisturizer, $3.99, drugstores nationwide

Shea Butter

What it is: A fat obtained from the fruit of the Karite tree

What it does: Moisturizes and nourishes the hair and scalp

Product Pick: L'occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Conditioner, $17, usa.loccitane.com

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If you want Shine

Cyclomethicone

What it is: A silicone (synthetic compound principally derived from sand)

What it does: Adds gloss while preventing dryness

Product Pick: Organic Root Stimulator Jojoba Oil Maximum Shine Hair & Scalp Moisturizer, $4.99, drugstores

Mica

What it is: A mineral

What it does: Enhances Shine

Product Pick: Toni & Guy Shine Junkie, $15.99, 800-295-8596
 

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