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 Folica.com 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.
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!)
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: Sci-Toys.com; The Chemistry Store.com; Best Knows; Snowdrift Farm; Lotus Blossom Bath & Body Products; and Chemistry.org