Haircare Products Borrowing Your Favorite Skincare Ingredients

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

A stream of brands, from luxury labels Sisley and Omorovicza to cult, indie faves Sunday Riley and Drunk Elephant, have dipped their toes into the space as well. I saw a gap that I wanted to addressthere were tons of products designed for improving the hair, without looking at the overall health of the scalp, Riley tells W, regarding the debut of her namesake skincare-haircare collection. The scalp and the hair are two halves of a wholeyou can't have healthy hair growth without a healthy scalp.

Dermatologist Dr. Iris Rubin also took a holistic approach when she founded the non-comedogenic, clean haircare brand Seen, whose products include good-for-skin additives such as bisabolol, a skin-soothing naturally derived ingredient, and squalane, a silicone substitute derived from plant sugar. Your hair products can get on your scalp, face, and back. Even the rinse-off ones can leave an invisible residue, which in turn can cause breakouts, irritation, and scalp issues, she says.

Just like you'd choose a skincare product with a specific type of problem- fighting ingredient, you should do the same when making selections for your tresses. In skincare, you aim to treat, nurture, and improve the quality of the skin with active ingredients, nutrients, and soothing botanicals. The same type of love is needed for the scalp and mane.

Still confused on how hero ingredients originally derived for your epidermis can be beneficial in your haircare routine? Hair and skincare experts spill intel on why certain ingredients are making big waves on the mane scene, below.

Micellar Water

Micellar cleansing waters are gentle enough for sensitive skin and effective in removing all traces of makeup while cleansing your face. The same technology used in facial cleansers is now being incorporated into shampoos that can be used for all hair types, even in those with chemically treated, dry or brittle manes. Micelles are tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules suspended in soft water. Their outside is water soluble, explains Dr. Joshua Zeichner, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. But the inside is oil soluble. When they come in contact with the hair, the oil soluble inside attaches to dirt and residue to remove it from the hair.

Perfect for textured hair, this lightweight spray contains Babassu oil-derived micelles, which work like microscopic magnets to help lift impurities from the scalp and tame frizz. Rose and micellar water make this foaming hair cleanser perfect for curly and coily hair types who want to cut down the frizz in their wash-and-go styles. Enriched with jojoba seed oil and abysinnian oil, the pointy nozzle on DevaCurl's low-lather serum is great for targeting hard-to- reach sections, especially if you're rocking a protective style. Enriched with Amazonian Brazil nut oil and Thai rice bran oil, this lush micellar shampoo penetrates deep into your hair fibers to deliver a dose of nourishment for extra softness and shine.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a superhero ingredient when it comes to your skin, scalp, and hair. It's a lightweight humectant that deeply hydrates and binds moisture to cells. It can also draw moisture from air to keep your skin moist, holding almost 1000 times its own weight in water. Think of it as a sponge that pulls in hydration to soften and plump the hair shaft itself, which can make the hair appear fuller and softer, says Dr. Zeichner.

This heavy-hitting hair rejuvenator is loaded with hyaluronic acid, a hydrator naturally found in the skin that attracts moisture and locks it in. A must for humid climates: Hyaluronic acid forms a moisture and pollution barrier to combat frizz; coconut milk smooths and strengthens hairbut is lightweight enough not to weigh it down. This hair serum includes skincare-inspired ingredients that work on natural and bottled blondes by preventing and repairing damage caused by heat styling and UV rays. Grape stem cells are a powerful antioxidant that aids in minimizing oxidative stress to your hair while amping up the shine and luster. The addition of hyaluronic acid increases hydration and volume.

AHAs and BHAs

Although dead skin cells naturally shed and are replaced by newer ones, physical or chemical exfoliation can help expedite the process by increasing cell turnover and getting rid of any epidermal build up. Scalp exfoliation is particularly helpful for those with dry skin, dandruff or oily hair. AHAs and BHAs are chemical exfoliants that can be used in the reduction of flakes and in unclogging follicles of excess sebum, styling gunk, or Keratin debris.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), and is peripherally similar in concept to an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). They both dissolve the bonds that hold dull, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, letting it gently shed, revealing a smoother, brighter [layer] underneath. The difference is that while AHAs are water soluble and work on the surface of the skin, BHAs are oil soluble and can penetrate into poresmeaning they work on the inside as well as the outsidewhich is particularly helpful for those with an oily scalp or are prone to scalp acne, says NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King.

Formulated with salicylic acid, micellar water, caffeine, and vitamin E, this bubbling refresher will gently erase pileups of oil and gunk without stripping your hair of necessary moisture. This supercharged scalp exfoliator uses an AHA/BHA acid blend to efface dead skin cells and product buildup, while biodegradable beads lift other impurities away. This pre-shampoo treatment contains Hungarian Moor Mud, which is rich in calcium and magnesium, to detoxify the scalp and sop up unwanted oil; salicylic acid gently sloughs away at dead skin cells and unblocks hair follicles, while camphor and menthol relieve irritated and itchy pates. Sunday Riley's clarifying scalp serum is packed with glycolic and salicylic acids to gently rid of excess sebum and grime; vitamin F, a rich fatty acid complex, soothes and rehydrates; and niacinamide encourages healthy hair growth.


Collagen is the key to a youthful complexion. It's an essential building block of skin, but it naturally depletes with age. And, because of its large molecular size, it's unable to penetrate through skin when applied topically. However, according to Dr. Zeichner, it does make for an excellent skin protectant and has moisturizing benefits that is helpful in addressing a dry scalp. It coats the hair shaft to soften and strengthen it, he notes.

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