Friday, May 12, 2006

Product Review: Biosilk

I just saw Bring It On for the first time ever this week. I'm not really sure how I've existed for 23 years without experiencing its genius. I mean, I even actually seriously had to DO spirit fingers on a real-live stage. I'm sure now that my performance was woefully lacking, as I had no proper appreciation of what exactly spirit fingers were, and why exactly they were GOLD.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. While we were at the video store though, I saw a copy of Undercover Brother, with Denise I-Stole-Mr.Locklear Richards on the cover. Which reminded me of that day I had Denise Richards Hair. Which reminded me that I had wanted to trot out my little diatribe on Biosilk. Which is what I'm doing now.

I'm guessing most of you have heard about this product -- it's a hair conditioning treatment with silk extracts that's supposed to protect hair, and add shine and manageability.

So what's little miss "drugstore-beauty-or-bust" doing talking about this salon product? It's $13 for a 50mL bottle! While this is cheaper than Frédéric Fekkai, it's not exactly frugal. But I was coerced! My student-stylist raved and raved about clients who somehow managed to keep their hair healthy and soft despite frequent heat styling and colouring: the common denominator was Biosilk. She also said that these well-coiffed ladies claimed to rub Biosilk on their elbows to smooth out rough skin. I was skeptical of these claims (hair serum on elbows? Come on now!), but with promises that I could return the product if I hated it, I bought the 50mL (2 oz.) bottle. Besides, the haircut itself was only $7, so I felt somewhat justified.

But, because I am a Google-whore, I had to look up what other people thought of Biosilk once I got home. (Yes, I realize this would have been a lot more useful before buying the product, but a wildly disproportionate sense of practicality is a classic symptom of internet addiction, dig?) Anyway, here's a sample of what folks are saying about Biosilk:

- "Makes my hair incredibly silky & smooth!"
- "Biosilk saved my fried hair!"
- "I put Biosilk on my legs after shaving... it makes them feel so soft!"
- "I put Biosilk on my wrinkles, now all my friends think I'm rich enough to afford Botox!"
- "I add a few drops of Biosilk to my morning cereal to give me an all over glow from within!"
- "I can see!!! It's a miracle!!! THANK YOU BIOSILK!!!!"

Well... maybe the reviews were not exactly like that. But you get the drift. There were a lot people who claimed Biosilk did good things for their skin though, which I found puzzling. So, taking a page from the Beauty Brains' ever-informative book, I decided to track down the ingredients in Biosilk and see what they actually do.* I posted a version of this on because I was feeling particularly rant-y that day. So if you run into a similar review out there, rest assured that no one's jacking my posts (or vice versa). This review is pretty darn long, so if you don't have the attention span, or if you only care about my subjective experience with Biosilk, just skip all the chem talk and go to the part about what I actually thought of the stuff.

Breakdown of the ingredients:

Cyclomethicone & Dimethicone: these are silicone-like substances that coat the hair follicle, making the cuticles lie flat and the hair look shiny. They give a "dry" silky feel, so that it doesn't feel like you have sticky oil on your hair. Prevents moisture loss by forming a barrier on the follicle.

SD Alcohol 40B: A quick drying alcohol solvent. Often used in hairsprays and perfumes. These alcohols are basically straight ethanol (aka: booze), but denatured, which makes it too bitter for desperate alcoholics or testosterone-fueled frat boys to drink.

Panthenol: aka vitamin B5. Attracts moisture from the air and binds it to follicle. Doesn't *nourish* the hair, simply coats it. Used in many shampoos. Interesting to note that panthenol only becomes a vitamin (pantothenic acid) IF it contacts a live cell. Since hair is dead, panthenol in the hair never actually converts to its vitamin form. But, "Now With Almost-Vitamin B5!" doesn't look quite as appealing on your shampoo bottle, does it?

Ethyl Ester of Hydrolyzed Silk: This is a form of silk protein; the "silk" in Biosilk. I can't find out much about this ingredient, but it appears to form a film on the hair, which fills in cracks, binds in moisture, and makes the shaft feel smooth.

Octyl Methoxycinnamate: a form of sunscreen.

C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate: From what I can gather, this serves a similar purpose as the -cones do. Also supposed to condition hair & skin. Whatever that means.

Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben: These are all preservatives which maintain the integrity of the product (keeps it free from mold, for example). Parabens may or may not cause cancer. The Beauty Brains posted a great discussion of the subject here. I'm currently of the mind that the parabens you find in your products are going to be in such small amounts that it shouldn't be a problem. But who knows? If you're really concerned about this, go get Chi Silk Infusion instead. It's made by the same company as the Biosilk people, and sounds like it's basically the same product minus the parabens. I haven't seen Silk Infusion in Canada yet, but I haven't been looking all that hard either.

Overall: Since hair is essentially dead, you can't "feed" it. You can only prevent further damage and moisture loss, which is what the -cones and alkyl benzoate do. Some of the ingredients in Biosilk are often found in lotions and creams for the skin because they give a silky smooth feel and help lock moisture in. However, I'm not so sure how putting SD Alcohol on your skin could actually add moisture, so I'd take the claims about Biosilk being good for your skin with a grain of salt. Sure, it migh feel smooth on your elbow, but I reckon you'd be much better off with a proper moisturizing cream or lotion. ("Reckon" y'all! I'm chanelling Dr. Phil again!)

What I actually thought of the stuff:

Despite my skepticism about what Biosilk will do for your skin, I can't deny that I LOVE what it does for my hair. In addition to my internet-habit, I am also addicted to my Conair straigtening iron. I have straight-ish hair to begin with, and I know the flat iron is not doing my hair any favours, but it just looks so much better when I use it! Needless to say, my hair is pretty dry, but Biosilk really does make it feel silky. I use it on wet hair, let it air dry, and then apply more before running the iron through my strands. The result is a deep satiny shine... not exactly glassy, but it looks and feels really healthy. Think the patina on a buttery leather jacket, rather than the shine on patent leather pumps.

For sure this is the best shine product I've ever used. It might not do as much for fly-aways as a heavier cream might, but I fortunately don't have mega-flyaways to contend with. Biosilk feels pretty thin in the palm, which is great because it translates to feeling light in the hair. I've heard that it's possible to over-load on this product, so I purposefully put too much product in to see what would happen. It took me like 5x what a sane person would think of using to hit the over-load point. Then again, I do have ridiculous, product-eating hair. I can see how fine-haired chicas would have to use this stuff sparingly.

Biosilk kicks the other shine sprays/serums I've tried to the curb because it actually makes my hair feel soft, unlike other products that just add shine (and usually gunkiness). Plus, 2nd-day (and even 3rd-day) hair is unbelievable when I use this. Still so shiny and soft!

One thing: some people might take issue with the scent. It's really strong and perfumey... I saw it described as an "Old French Whore Scent", which is actually kind of (inappropriately) appropriate. I don't especially like it, but I don't hate it either. Scent is obviously a personal thing. At any rate, the smell doesn't stick around that long. But while it's there, it's definitely THERE. Oh well, at least it doesn't smell like coconut.

So yeah, in my books? Biosilk is totally worth paying a bit extra for. You really don't need to use much... I've been using it for about 3 weeks now, and there's still like 80% of the bottle left. Biosilk's the poo, people!!

* I'm totally not a hair stylist or a chemist or anything... all this info is just based on random internet research. I DID get a B+ in my first year chem course. Which isn't that spectacular, really, but there it is anyway. So if you know better than me and you see mistakes in what I've said, please do post corrections in the comments!

Info in this post shamelessly pilfered from sites like:; The Chemistry; Best Knows; Snowdrift Farm; Lotus Blossom Bath & Body Products; and



At 7:40 a.m., Blogger SpillToJill said...

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At 10:22 p.m., Anonymous MicheleP. said...

This is something I truly just can not live with out....
I have tried just about every shine enhancer out there, from the 3.00 a bottle upward's of 40.00 and this is my hair staple that I swear by,and yes I have even shaved with it!

At 7:00 a.m., Blogger Lee said...

LMAO at the putting Biosilk in cereal! Good one. Actually here's the secret: biosilk is CRAP! CRAP I tell you! Biosilk is toxic and reeks of toxic fragrance, gives me a migraine! There's more but I forget, I inhaled too much biosilk and it's got my brains! HEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLP!t

At 10:53 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like Biosilk's hair gel, but I think the conditioner is crap. It made my hair feel very brittle. I guess maybe it does well for those who have crap hair from frying it with irons, but for those who take care of our hair, not really doing much.

At 11:46 a.m., Blogger The Glitterati said...

I've actually never used Biosilk's gel, but I agree that their shampoo and conditioner are not great. Still lovin' the serum though -- the giant size bottle has lasted me almost 3 years, and counting!

At 9:59 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use Biosilk on my face after my morning shave and aftershave. It sinks in after a bit, but after about 5 minutes, give your face a good rubdown to remove excess goo.

At 2:48 p.m., Anonymous Anthony said...

It's $40 for the big bottle, but if you buy the shampoo/conditioner/silk therapy combo it's all only $28 at Target. I used to buy it from Salons long enough to know what the "real stuff" feels like and I can assure you that when I buy it from target it isn't fake, old, or diluted. Just a good idea for those living on a budget.

I like the smell of the shampoo and conditioner, but I'm not too crazy about using them in my hair. Although I do put a few drops of the conditioner on the body buff with my body wash. Not sure if it works, just throwing ideas out there

At 1:12 p.m., Blogger The Glitterati said...

Hi Anthony, that's a neat idea about using a bit of conditioner on your bath pouf. The -cones in the product probably make skin feel nice and smooth... I'll have to try it out, thanks for the tip!

At 12:11 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the research on Biosilk. Been using a couple of years on and off. 6 mos ago a stylist fried my hair and I've been using Biosilk every wash to prevent further damage until it grows out. But one day I thought what the h/// is in this stuff? I can't read the ingrediants; it's the writing on grain of rice. So I got suspicious and looked it up and so now I know - Thanks for the info.....It is the ONLY thing that has made my hair bearable to live with until it grows out again..

At 10:21 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keratonics by Neways at Essa Natural Essa Books is less expensive by far, uses European Union fragrance guidelines which is goood for me due to allergies. Makes for lovely hair. Silk therapy and botanicals. Found it from a book contest. Julianne

At 10:44 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi... I am virtually a new born in the world of hair styling! All my like, shampoo was the only hair product that I used... but since I bought my Revlon flat iron from Walmart recently, I have grown really interested in using more products to make my hair look better. My question to you is, I read somewhere that any product when used on wet hair before flat ironing the hair could melt (due to the heat of the iron) and stick permanently to the surface of the hair and make a mess out of it in the long run! And it does make sense, right? Do you think this problem might not occur with the use of this product... or any other serum for that matter? Also, what would you think of using a Revlon flat iron??

At 3:30 p.m., Blogger The Glitterati said...

Hi Anon, thanks for your questions. I'm not a chemist, but here's my take on it:

Whether a product is used with heat (e.g., a flat iron or dryer) or not, it should still be washed away by your shampoo. First, serums and shine products are generally made up of silicones. Their purpose is to coat the hair shaft, making it smoother and more light-reflecting. They also 'protect' the hair from heat styling by giving the hair shaft a smooth surface, so that your flat iron will glide over you hair without snagging, which prevents uneven heat spots (e.g., if your iron got stuck on a particular are of hair for a while).

If it's the case that heat styling will somehow permanently adhere the product to your hair, then you'd expect this to be the case with all silicone products. Well, many conditioners (and some shampoos) use silicones! So that would mean you couldn't use ANY product (not even shampoo) before heat-styling. That doesn't make much sense to me.

Or, you can think about it this way: is it any harder to wash a pan that is coated in a thin layer of melted butter than it is to wash one that has chunks of unmelted butter on it? Not really - your dish soap will dissolve the butter regardless of what form it's in. Likewise, a good shampoo will dissolve/wash off any residual shine product in your hair, regardless of whether heat has been applied. Granted, if the butter is actually *burnt* onto the pan, that might be harder to get off (chemically speaking, this is no longer just a state change like melting is, it's a chemical change -- you can cool melted butter back into solid butter, but you can't ever get burnt butter to turn into unburt butter).

However, even if you somehow tried to "burn" a shine serum onto your hair, it is my intuition that silicone will take a lot longer to melt than your hair will. For example, think about silicon baking sheets, or pots w/ silicon handles that can stay in a hot oven for hours. At that high of a temperature, I think hair would burn up a lot faster than the pot handle will. So, by the point you have enough heat to actually melt/burn the silicon into your hair, I doubt there would be much hair left in the first place. So, to me, it seems like the amount of heat exposure that you'd get by ironing your hair would not be enough to chemically change (e.g., burn) the shine serum. As for any styling product that remains on your hair, a good clarifying shampoo will take care of that.

Finally, I've never used a Revlon iron, so I can't say specifically. For me, the main things I want in an iron are 1) high heat (so I only have to pass over the hair 1x and it's straight -- repeated passes = more heat & more damage), 2) adjustable heat (b/c my thick coarse hair needs a lot more heat than fine blonde hair might), and 3) a smooth plate surface (again, to prevent snagging and pulling). You also want the iron to heat the plates evenly in all spots, but short of touching the hot plates (which I DON'T recommend! :D), I don't know how you'd test that.

Whew, long reply! Hope this helps, and welcome to the addictive world of hair products! :)

At 3:53 p.m., Blogger Rita said...

My 2 cents on your reply to Anon:

I have been using silicone/serum/shine for years and years as my hair has been totally wrecked by several hairdressers that feel they need not take responsibility for/care of your hair when you pay them to do just that. It has really saved my hair on every occasion along with a good protein based treatment to help fill in the gaps in my poor damaged cuticles (sob sob etc).

Now one thing I do have to say AGAINST these wonderful products, is that yes, they do build up and become a semi-permanent layer on top of the hair surface that does not come off/dissolve with the use of shampoos that are color-safe/moisturising or even "treatment" shampoos (that includes all 2-in-1 products) as these are designed to just clean the surface of the hair enough to not look or feel dirty atleast. This is good because that means that the color (if you've colored your hair, obviously) is not washed away as quickly due to the shampoo and subsequently, alot of the hair's own natural moisture is retained. The bad side to this is that it doesn't do quite as good a job at cleansing or essentially "stripping" all product from the hair as it is needed to, and so you end up with layer by layer of product build-up, especially with silicones. After a while this becomes more noticable and the hair suface starts feeling almost waxy and looks lack-lustre and heavy.

My current hairdresser gave me a very useful tip on this. Have your normal everyday shampoo by all means, as a deep cleansing shampoo does tend to make the hair dry because it removes alot of the natural oils/moisture, but do have a clarifying shampoo on hand aswell. If you wash your hair every day with an "everyday" shampoo, use the clarifying/deep cleansing shampoo at most once per week. This will lift most if not all of the product/serum your everyday shampoo does not quite reach. If, on the other hand, you only wash your hair once every 2, 3 even 4 days like I do, use the clarifying shampoo once every 2 to 3 weeks. I only use the serums and so on right after I've washed my hair and so I really don't have to deep clean that often, which is GREAT news for any haircolor I choose to use. As an added boost after I've clarified my hair, I tend to use a protein rich + moisturising hair mask which puts back all of the needed moisture that the shampoo has stripped off. Besides, it's a bit of a treat for me too ;).

Phew, yeah, my 2 cents are alot more than I thought, more like $1.75-ish, but I do hope this helps someone :)

Thanks for this in-depth review. I adore people who take the time to do a proper bit of research into a product before they rate it.

At 12:46 p.m., Blogger The Glitterati said...

Hey Rita, thanks for that great reply! I guess under the dish soap analogy, the clarifying shampoo would be extra-strength dish soap, to help get rid of the stuck on grease that is product buildup? (Wait, is this a beauty blog or a house cleaning blog? =P)

That's a great tip about clarifying shampoos, I don't remember to use them often enough (er... ever, that is).

At 8:56 p.m., Anonymous HairCare said...

If the Biosilk Shampoo and Conditioner don't work for your hair, it means you don't need them. If your hair is pretty healthy, not lacking in protein, and/or not damaged, you DON'T need the deep reconstructing that the Biosilk Shampoos and Conditioners give. By using them when you're hair doesn't need them, you cause build up of proteins in your hair, making your once healthy hair dry, brittle, and break. Biosilk makes great products and totally saved girls like me who need them to make our hair look great and be healthy because it's not already.

At 9:01 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I really love what Biosilk does for my hair, and I love the scent, it completely wrecks my skin. I had a really strong allergic reaction to something in it - no idea what. The skin on my face, behind my ears, my scalp, all got red hot and prickly - like a really bad sunburn minus the nerve pain. I am guessing it spread all over my face because I brush my hair forward into my face when I am blowdrying it. It's a shame. I have been looking around to see if anyone else has had this reaction.

At 1:02 a.m., Blogger Princess Cindy said...

Love all the information you shared. Ive been debating on whether or not to buy this product, and you pretty much broke it down for me. My hair is fine and it frizzes easily, while the hot iron causes some pretty bad damage. Just hate it cause I do love using the flat iron. Im gonna try some of this product and see what happens. Thank You!

At 1:10 p.m., Blogger Frenchfried said...

Hey, thanks for that great investigation work on biosilk, i've been using it for some time now but always wondered what was in it. I don't see why our whores would smell worse than yours though.

At 11:49 p.m., Blogger Anderson said...

Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.

Silk Hair Spray

At 10:09 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just purchased the 3-set from Target thinking it was a Biolage product but Biosilk is a completely different manufacturer. I had been using Biolage products but my hair needed "something" more. This product worked great on my hair and looks healthier than it has looked in years; however, I also had an allergic reaction to something in the mix, probably fragrance. Fragrance is usually what gets to me. Anybody else have allergic reactions to this product? If so, what did you do? I would like to keep using this on my hair but can't deal with the red-face issue...


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