The ‘Drug Pushers’ of Haircare – Creating a cycle of need and addiction

December 19, 2021

The ‘Drug Pushers’ of Haircare – Creating a cycle of need and addiction

“What’s he going to tell us now?” I hear you say. “Taliban warlords make shampoo in their poppy fields! Colombian cartels launch new crack-cocaine conditioner!”

Not quite, but hear me out. What does drug addiction mean to you? For most people, it’s illegal supplies that are fantastically mood enhancing first time, whilst slowly ruining health and lives. But then most addictive hooks grab our emotions, and are so strong as to overwhelm our cognitive powers trying to warn us of future bad side effects.

I think drug-pusher is a pretty good analogy for knowingly creating an addiction that causes harm. And it fits many ‘wonder’ products that succeed by getting us hooked.


• The nicotine industry – they used to promote cigarettes as a health product years ago.

• Low-fat food - that 1970’s scheme built on bad science that helped launch the obesity crisis.

• Hair extensions for thicker hair that make your own hair thinner through extra stress and breakage.

• Blingy false nails that might make you an Instagram star, but can ruin the health of your natural nails.

• Silicone-rich products that solve the symptoms of coarse dry frizzy hair today, and can make the problem worse for tomorrow.

• Toners that ‘tone down’ your colour but make it lift quicker next time.


All these products are a marketeer’s dream because they can focus on the instant emotional hit, knowing most people have short attention spans and don’t want to think too hard beyond right now. I was even offered teeth veneers 25 years ago because it was the latest wheeze in dentistry. It would have involved permanently scraping down my own healthy teeth to apply them! My natural teeth are still perfectly fine.

Hair & Beauty

The good thing about silicone is that it disguises frizzy hair today. The bad thing about silicone is that it can make the hair even frizzier tomorrow. There are hundreds of products to choose from and many will make your hair feel nice today. But most use silicone to give the cosmetic glossy effect.

Silicone-rich hair products instantly lubricate and make the hair feel nice. All the roughness and frizz is temporarily disguised. The next week when the hair feels a little bit drier still, there could be many variables responsible. So the silicone varnish that felt so lovely won’t get the rap. You reach again, encouraged on by the fact that these products never boast about the silicone in the formula which can be over 90%, but refer to the fluffy and fairly irrelevant fragrance and flower oils.

They play semantics with the marketing copy to seduce you in. Telling you it’s hydrating and moisturising when it’s the complete opposite. It’s lubricating, yes, like engine oil, and most people will feel their soft hair after first use and think it must be moisturising because it feels less dry. But no, it’s just been varnished, and a side effect is that it will now be more dry tomorrow. What will you reach for? The thing that made it feel instantly soft. Kerching!

You simply cannot moisturise anything with hydrophobic ingredients. Most silicones repel water. For hair and the rest of the body, water conducts the vitality that supports life. So, slowly, slowly the silicone replaces the hair’s natural moisture and the hair becomes drier, more brittle, thinner and less flexible. The cycle of dependency and decay continues.

Marketeers prey on people being unaware that hydrophobic silicones are very drying for the hair and not great for the scalp either. Growing evidence points to the potential for clogging the scalp which interferes with growth and may encourage hair fall. And people who want to avoid silicones, don’t realise that they aren’t called silicone on the ingredients list. No, the scientific names are cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, trimethicone and anything with ….cone or ….conol at the end.

Going Silicone-free

Silicone wedges itself in the cracks and voids of hair and can take 10-20 washes to remove. If it’s been covering extreme colouring and aggressive heat styling, that hair is likely to be too damaged to return to natural health. It will take time for new protected hair to grow through and replace this.

But a better colouring strategy, healthier styling techniques and silicone-free products like our best-selling LifeSaver treatments will deliver hair quality you probably forgot you had. Depending on length, the rehab can take 3–36 months to fully recover genuinely healthy hair.

We may have started the silicone-free movement but we are no longer alone. Other independents are coming to market too. The conglomerates are fighting back.

They lobby the EU to ban us from saying silicone-free on our products. They know it might get consumers digging a little deeper and find out it’s in 99% of hair products, because it’s cheap and wonderfully deceptive. And once hooked……


Not only haircare


It’s not just illegal drugs but prescriptive ones too. As the misuse of opioid painkillers attests - lowering average US life expectancy for the first time in a hundred years. The body gets to crave what it knows and the emotional attachment to the initial rewarding hits are very powerful.


Food giants used dodgy science of the 1970’s to run rampant with processed ‘low-fat’ food, loaded with salt and sugar to replace the lost natural flavour. It’s tasty, but processed, denatured food has little nutritional value so leaves you hungry and reaching for more.

The brain doesn’t go through an intellectual analysis of why this should be. It remembers the emotional high from the first taste and reaches for the same. But the body stores the low nutritional-value bulk of the food just in case. The addiction decline continues and you can look forward to the extra kilos. Bigger people buy more food. Kerching! The obesity crisis (one of malnutrition) has shortened millions of lives.


Health is important to me and I want to be conscious of the things I bring into my life. But I’ve no plans to check-in to a monastery, and never forget that, “a little bit of what you like does you good”.

Michael Van Clarke

 Michael Van Clarke

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