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HerCut haircare targets your hair style

Is a Solution for:
Dry or Brittle Hair, Limp Hair, Dull Hair
December 11, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 3 Comments
HerCut caught my eye at Sephora the other day for two reasons: the packaging was modern, clean and cute (OK, so I'm superficial); and it promised a new approach to hair care - products for your hair style rather than your hair type. When I started to think about this, it struck me that HerCut's approach is pretty radical. Generally, when you buy a you buy a styling product it is aimed at, say, curly hair or at an effect, like imparting shine. Hercut is saying, so you've had your hair bobbed, or you have a shag cut, and our styling products will make that cut work. I had to take a closer look.

My shoulder length, wavy hair loosely approximates a shag cut, so I went for HerCut The Shag Catalyst ($28). The first thing that jumped out at me was the long list of things that I won't find in HerCut: parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, triclosan. We were off to a good start.

HerCut, then claims it has a "groundbreaking technology"  that fits the unique requirements of a shag cut. "Its macromolecular complex creates interactions between the hair fibers via a system of charges that impel the cut to behave brilliantly." Regular readers will know that when beauty companies talk about "groundbreaking technologies", my BS antennae become highly tuned.

HerCut Shag Catalyst comes in a dual dispenser, with one squirting out "polymers" and the other "collaterals". Now what does that mean? Polymers is a really broad term that encompasses plastic, cellulose, Bakelite and silicone to name but a few. In the case of Shag Catalyst, the polymer dispenser probably includes the silicone cyclohexasiloxane, polyimide-1 (a particularly strong polymide), polyacrylates, polyquaterniums, several other silicones and various copoylmers. My guess is that there are about 20 ingredients in the polymer corner. Collaterals are presumably the various amino acids (I counted 10 including histidine and proline) and natural oils like avocado and abyssinian (both full of fatty acids) and panthenol (vitamin B).

The difference between Shag Catalyst and, say, Bob Catalyst seems to be in the type and order of the polymers. The collaterals seem to be identical. All in all, it seems worth trying out so I've ordered it from and will report back.


Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Polyimide-1, Hydrogenated Castor Oil/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Stearyl Alcohol, C18-21 Alkane, VP/VA Copolymer, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Panthenol, Abyssinian Oil, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Avocado Oil, Cyclopentasiloxane, Linoleamidopropyl PG Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Dimethicone, Ceteareth-20, Dimethicone, Acrylates/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Copolymer, VP/Dimethylaminoethylmethacrylate Copolymer, Phenyl Trimethicone, Polyacrylate-21, Microcrystalline Wax, Acrylates/Dimethylamino Methacrylate Copolymer, Sodium PCA, Arginine, Polyquaternium-91, Aspartic Acid, PCA, Glycine, Alanine, Serine, Valine, Sodium Lactate, C13-16 Isoparaffin, Oleth-20, Triethanolamine, Polyacrylate 15, Polyquaternium-59, Proline, Threonine, Isoleucine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Fragrance, DMDM Hydantoin, Disodium EDTA, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.
  • December 11, 2009

    by marta

    Hello Arandjel,

    I think the point is that we try to give readers the information that will help them make their own decision. I try very hard not to be a purist or a scaremonger. I would love it if we could only review, buy and use products that are 100% pure and effective, but the reality is that trade offs are necessary. Making those trade offs is a personal decision, so yes, sometimes I like a product DESPITE some of its ingredients.

    Regarding the EWG, we do quote it often because its one of the few sources. But we always try to second source and when we do we often find that the EWG is quoting research that is way out of date. And both Copley and I have mentioned that they can be extreme, even slightly hysterical.

    Our ingredients database covers nearly 1,000 ingredients and we try very hard to give balanced information. So in the case of <a href="" rel="nofollow">DMDM</a> we point out that it is "controversial" (ie not everyone agrees on how harmful it is) and the CIR (although they would, wouldn't they) considers it safe.

    Similarly, we have written extensively on butylene glycol and I don't want to bore everyone by making every post a laundry list of repetitive explanations (that's why we created the ingredients database). But since you raise it: Glycol’s have extremely wide variations in toxicity that match their many dirfferent uses. Ethylene glycol is very well known as automobile anti-freeze. It is toxic upon ingestion, causing direct toxicity to erythrocytes [red blood cells]. The very similar propylene glycol has none of the same toxicity associated with ethylene glycol. It is both a skin irritant and a sensitizer. You can read our research on PG <a href="" rel="nofollow">here</a>.

    Butylene glycol (1,4-butanediol) is not toxic. There has been no documented organ-specific toxicity associated with 1,3-butanediol. Butanediol is also not a carcinogen. It is not a skin sensitizer, and is not considered a skin irritant. In undiluted form butylene glycol may irritate the eye and lining of the respiratory tract.

    Having said all that, I genuinely appreciate your comment. It gave me pause for thought, which is a VERY good thing. Please don't hesitate to keep me honest.

  • December 11, 2009

    by Arandjel

    Oh, and I totally left it out in my previous post, but butylene glycol is, as I understand it - and correct me if I'm wrong - a petrochemical.

  • December 11, 2009

    by Arandjel

    Not to be nitpicky or anything, but microcrystalline wax is a petrochemical. Also, triethanolamine is rather hazardous, according to your favorite source, the Enviromental Working Group. And I would much rather use a product with parabens, than to slather DMDM Hydantoin on my scalp. Why would you favor a substance that relies on formaldehyde to preserve a product, rather than parabens, which occur naturally in plants and fruits?

    I have always been impressed by the thorough research you do, and all the new and exciting products you manage to review; which is what initially drew my to this blog. But lately you've become slightly inconsistent, when it comes to judging a product by its ingredients. I would call it biased. Because, as long as you personally like a product, it doesn't really seem to matter whether or not they contain harmful substances.

    With that said, I also have to add that I still find "Truth In Aging" to be an excellent resource, and am very grateful for all the great work you do - so keep it up! :)

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