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The beauty industry is a popularity contest. It thrives off buzzwords and trendy ingredients, some of which provide little evidence to support the claims. It's the lesser-known ingredients that rarely get their shine—no matter how good they may be. Enter zeolite, the under-the-radar ingredient that's secretly banishing second- (and third-) day hair with its magnet-like properties. Think: a less popular but cooler version of charcoal.
To learn more about this ingredient, we turned to board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Herrmann, MD; celebrity hairstylist Ashley Streicher; and Michele Burgess, executive director of global product development for Oribe. Read on for what they had to say.
Zeolite for Hair
TYPE OF INGREDIENT: Cleanser and detoxifier
MAIN BENEFITS: The porous structure of zeolite acts as a sponge to soak up oils on a deeper level, leaving your hair and scalp feeling oil-free longer.
WHO SHOULD USE IT: Considering it is a naturally absorbent ingredient, zeolite is suitable for anyone looking to eliminate oils, dirt, and odors on the scalp sans chemicals. Those with thin hair or fine hair types are particularly great candidates for zeolite; however, it is not always recommended for those with coarse or dry hair.
HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT: It is safe for use as often as your hair needs added texture, volume, or a clean feeling without a formal wash.
Benefits of Zeolite for Hair
The name zeolite comes from the Greek words zeo, which means to boil, and lithos, which describes a stone. Zeolite is silica-based volcanic ash that forms over time when ash and lava from volcanoes chemically react with seawater. It's all very scientific, but what does this mean for your hair? According to Burgess, "Zeolite acts like tiny sponges that absorb dirt, oils, and odors—they are used for absorption purposes and are especially effective in dry shampoos or products that add volume to the hair." But traditionally, this ingredient has been known to absorb much more than dirt. Herrmann tells us, "It's been used to pull harmful byproducts like ammonia or radioactive waste out of materials for purification, and it's been shown to be a natural antimicrobial as well and is used in some natural crystal deodorants."
- Regulates oil production: Zeolite is an excellent ingredient for those who have an excessively oily scalp or don't wash their hair frequently. The porous structure of zeolite acts as a sponge to soak up oils on a deeper level, leaving your hair and scalp feeling oil-free longer.
- Supports long-lasting texture: The microstructure of zeolite adds grip to the hair, creating long-lasting texture to create certain hairstyles.
- Promotes a fresh scalp: Zeolite adds an instant freshness to the scalp and hair by absorbing dirt, oils, and odors. This commonly used ingredient in dry shampoo is perfect for freshening up between washes.
- Creates volume and adds density to hair: The gritty texture of zeolite instantly thickens strands and creates all-day volume in thinner hair types.
- It's a natural addition to your routine: Zeolite is a naturally derived mineral found on earth that forms from a chemical reaction of lava and water. It's a safe alternative to chemically produced ingredients.
Hair Type Considerations
Considering it is a naturally absorbent ingredient, zeolite is suitable for anyone looking to eliminate oils, dirt, and odors on the scalp sans chemicals. But if you find yourself constantly having to wash your hair, Burgess says that "zeolites are a great ingredient for those who have an oily scalp or prefer not to wash their hair frequently." It's also a great solution for someone with fine or thin hair types. Ashley Streicher says it's ideal for "anyone looking for texture and to maintain long-lasting volume." However, she warns that it can be drying. "It can add additional dryness for someone with very course or dry hair," says Streicher. Herrmann also adds that "anyone with extremely sensitive skin or active skin injury may experience irritation from [zeolite]." For those with very dry skin, Herrmann recommends using more hydrating products.
How to Use Zeolite for Hair
As Burgess explains, "Zeolites are a group of minerals found in volcano fields that form small crystals. The crystals are often crushed into powder form and are used for a variety of purposes, including hair products." As the ingredient is not readily available for consumer use, it's best to enjoy its benefits via these five zeolite-infused hairstylist faves.
This tried-and-true hairstylist pick goes on invisible for buildable volume and texture while also absorbing oils at the roots. Use it to extend the life of your blowout, or add it to clean hair for a fuller look. It also provides UV protection and boasts a vegan formula.
This color-safe texture spray contains silica, a type of zeolite, to build instant volume, an airy texture, and a flexible (non-crunchy) hold. Perfect for thinner hair types, this lightweight spray won't weigh down fine strands.
While some texture sprays have a matte finish that can leave hair looking dull, this lightweight mist also adds shine. Spritz it on your strands for a flexible, non-sticky texture, volume, and hold that won't weigh down your hair at the roots or through the shaft.
If you've ever tried to hide greasy roots and were only left with a white residue on your scalp, this lightly tinted texture spray eliminates oils without the powdery look. Spray it directly onto the roots for volume and on your hair from mid-shaft to ends for texture. Finally, the fragrance blend of palo santo, white cedarwood, smoky tobacco leaf, fresh pine needles, and water lily leaves your hair smelling like a dream.
This cult-favorite finishing spray adds density and a dry hold for big bombshell hair that lasts all day. And the best part: It is formulated without parabens or sodium chloride, making it safe for color- and keratin-treated hair. Finally, it adds UV protection to your strands, for healthier hair.