Moroccan Oil + Other ‘oil’ Products: Bad For Your Hair!
***IMPORTANT UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2016! Please ask all questions about this article in the COMMENTS section below so that other people can see my responses – do not email me. There are some wonderful questions coming via email and we would all benefit from seeing them posted and answered here.
Please read through the comments section below for advice I’ve given already, before asking your questions. I do my best to reply to everyone within a few days. Also I would love for you to share this article if you find it eye-opening! The more people who learn about Moroccan Oil, the better.
Please go to my haircare section if you are interested in product recommendations. As far as I have discovered with my own clients, the Malibu C Crystal Gel treatment and Undo Goo shampoo as weekly maintenance are the best ways to clear out buildup from Moroccan Oil. Make sure to follow up after Undo Goo with a low pH conditioner (4.5) to seal the cuticle and help preserve colour/hair health.
The Moroccan Oil product line, as well as other ‘oil’ lines, have been bothering me since they invaded the market. I have always been suspicious of products in the beauty industry that are heavily marketed and unusually popular – beginning with the original Brazilian Blowout, and we all know how that turned out. After seeing many friends, brides, models and clients with dry, damaged hair after using these trendy oil serums and product lines, I decided to do some research. My goal? Discover why this stuff is ruining everyone’s hair!
It has come to my attention that when I recommend products to a client, often the retailers or salons will push Moroccan Oil onto them instead. I received an email from a client last year, complaining that ‘the product you recommended ruined my hair, and it is dry and completely unmanageable now’. Guess what she bought instead of the curl product I suggested? Moroccan Oil, at the insistence of the stylist! This is but one example of many, so that now when I recommend a product I bring it with me to the appointment and have the client take a photo so she can buy the exact thing without being distracted. We need to get something straight here. I know a lot of salons and hairdressers will be angry for my giving this next tidbit away, but it is one of the offensively dishonest things about working in a salon; it is one of the many reasons that I went mobile. Hair product companies often have sales competitions wherein the team or the top seller on the team wins a big prize for selling the most products. I disagree with this so strongly because it does happen a lot with Moroccan Oil brand, and often the products that are recommended are not in the best interest of the client. In seminars we hairstylists are often told we can get rich quick from product revenue alone. Now that I’m working for myself, I am proud to say I do not sell products, but recommend the best products for my clients and tell them where to buy them at the best prices. Many of them take my recommendations seriously and have some of the most beautiful hair I’ve ever worked with.
Anyway, back to Moroccan Oil. I went to the beauty supply store and read the ingredients for their products. I was shocked (but not surprised) to discover that in products such as their curl cream, there is more fragrance than actual argan nut oil! This is a big deal, as it shows that there is really not a lot of the good stuff in Moroccan Oil at all. You’re paying top dollar for the name brand while getting the same junk as you’d find in a drugstore product: the product line is completely silicone based. The first 4-6 ingredients are all silicones, depending on which product you’re looking at. Silicones are what I like to call ‘hair cosmetics’ because they cover up the problem (dryness and frizz) for a long time but do nothing to heal it. They make the hair feel ultra sleek and soft for the first while that you’re using them. Please do your research and read the labels of products before buying. It will save you a lot of money and a lot of hair damage down the line! Also, it’s really very important to note that although I am targeting Moroccan Oil here, this issue applies across the board for all ‘oil’ lines. I do make sure to take a photo of every miracle product that my clients tell me about, so that I can find out what exactly is in there that’s so special. Sadly, it is always SILICONES. Dimethicone, cyclomethicone, phenyl trimethicone, cyclopentasiloxone…any of the ‘-one’ suffixes basically. Hair cosmetics.
So! Why is it bad for your hair if the strands feel soft, shiny and smooth? Well, for starters, silicone molecules are too big to penetrate your hair’s cuticle. They tend to build up over time and leave the hair looking dull, greasy and feeling drier than ever. It looks greasy, but is dry/coarse/stiff to the touch. I have literally scraped off old built-up silicone from clients’ hair with my fingernail – this buildup seals and locks in the dry damaged hair so that nothing can help the condition. It takes drastic measures and funky tricks to remove this old gunk, and often one trick is not enough. For example, one method is to use a clarifying shampoo (I love Kevin Murphy’s Maxi Wash!) but it will need to sit for 5-10 minutes and be repeated over the course of a few days to get everything out. Dimethicone, for example, is not water soluble and can really build up, so it does need a lot of scrubbing to clear off. Another method is to use a Malibu Treatment such as Crystal Gel and apply it using heat for 45 minutes. For more intense stripping and a faster processing time, try using cheap dish soap and leaving it for 10 minutes. A paste made of shampoo and crushed aspirin also works. You get the picture: it takes harsh chemicals to strip silicones out.
I just want to quickly mention that silicones are OK in the right proportions. Many lines have silicones in them – just not as much or as many as Moroccan Oil does.
In contrast to silicones, natural nut oils such as argan, coconut, avocado, jojoba (and more) have teensy little molecules that soak up into the hair and can provide great benefit for its health. You can probably already see a big problem here! If the cuticle is already overwhelmed and clogged with silicones, how do the meager amounts of nut oil in Moroccan Oil products (and others, remember there are many similar lines) stand a chance to penetrate the hair? Well, any idiot can see THEY DON’T. They can’t! The makers of these ‘oil’ lines know this, and that’s why they put such a small amount in their products – they know the good stuff is getting wasted!
I am feeling so angry and worked up, because I have now arrived at the main issue.
Moroccan Oil, Argan Oil, Saryna Keys, and other fancy ‘oil’ lines are LYING to you about what is in their products!!! They have loaded their products with a bunch of silicones that stick together and can’t be properly rinsed off! They are also marketing dishonestly by bribing hairstylists into selling you their products instead of what might be best for your hair!
If you had dry, damaged hair before, it will be much worse after using these products. I have seen it time and time again. Any masque conditioners, protein treatments, true natural oils and other healing products simply do not penetrate your hair if you’re using heavy amounts of silicones. Your hair will stop feeling so soft and instead start to feel a bit dry or damaged…and you’ll use more serum…then it gets drier over time….and you apply more…you can’t understand why your hair is so dull and dry and frizzy…so you apply more because that miracle product worked so WELL when you first got it! And it smells so yummy…you simply LOVE to apply it for the smell alone, so why not go nuts?
…The cycle continues until your haircolour stops working properly. It won’t fully pass through the clogged cuticle and fades quickly. Your blonde looks dull, even brassy or rusty. Your brunette looks greyish and greasy. Your natural grey or white gets a yellowish tint regardless of how much you use your toning shampoo. Your sexy natural curls fall limp and flat while feeling drier and frizzier than ever before. Straight hair sticks all lank and greasy against your neck. Blowouts and curling irons do nothing. Your scalp gets sticky and packed with what appears to be oil. Shampoo stops working and your hair stinks and feels dirty no matter what you do. You may get acne on your scalp. Most notably, your hair will smoke as if it’s on fire when using hot styling tools. You can scrape the buildup off with your fingernail.
I cannot stress this enough: throw out your expensive ‘oil’ products and invest in some heavy duty clarifying treatments. Ask your hairdresser about a Malibu treatment or do some research online to find your own home care products. Go to your local health food store and spend your money on some honest, natural and true Argan Nut Oil. The page over at Saadia is the best resource for how to choose the right type of natural oil. When you start to strip the silicones out of your hair, it will feel weird and gross for the first few times. Stick with it! There will be a detox period where the clarifier actually causes buildup on your hair as the surfactants grip onto the silicone molecules but cannot break them apart. You can do this! It will be worth it!
Then when your hair finally starts feeling normal again, buy some Undo Goo shampoo by Malibu (it’s 100% vegan!), and use it once a week as maintenance. Leave it for 5 minutes in your hair and rinse. It’s good to clarify weekly for scalp and hair health, no matter what products you’re using. Undo Goo is of a very high pH, so make sure to balance it out with something 4.5 pH (such as Schwarzkopf Colour Freeze conditioner) or even do an apple cider rinse. This will seal the cuticle and prevent your colour from fading.
Remember: NATURAL doesn’t always mean BETTER. UN-NATURAL silicones are completely OK to use in your hair if they are in well-formulated products that can be rinsed out. Synthetic chemicals sometimes do better than natural ones and I recommend mostly ‘un-natural’ products that still do great wonders for all hair types. Silicone based products can even be awesome for the health of your hair (for example the Sealed Ends leave in treatment by Schwarzkopf, which builds up a teensy bit on your ends to protect them and help them stay fresh and healthy so that you can go longer in between haircuts). The problem I am discussing in this article is strictly about ‘miracle’ products that are heavily marketed and claim to be oil based…but are instead loaded with the stickier types of silicones in the wrong proportions to natural oils. It is a problem because of dishonesty and NOT because of silicones themselves. People end up over-using these kinds of products since they claim to be natural and healthy when they absolutely are not.
Update July 2016 – One of my own clients picked up some Moroccan Oil Restorative Hair Mask and started using it about 6 weeks ago. I saw her last week and her normally beautiful clear skin was breaking out all around her hairline and down her neck. I didn’t want to comment in case she was embarrassed (I sure hate it when someone comments about my skin). Near the end of our visit she mentioned the breakout, saying it was abnormal and she doesn’t know what’s going on, but that it started suddenly 6 weeks ago and she was looking for solutions. She said the acne was on her shoulders and back as well. I asked her if she had changed any hair or skincare products around that same time…and then it clicked – that was exactly when she bought the Moroccan Oil. She said she hadn’t changed anything else and was certain that it was due to that product alone. It’s so full of pore-clogging junk that merely the rinse water caused a breakout! So – if you are having skin troubles don’t despair, it might be the Moroccan Oil!
Any questions? Please ask in the comments section below!