Up until a few weeks ago, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that my hair had metal in it. If you're thinking, "ew, gross," I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your hair most likely has metal in it, too. Scientific data confirms that metals like cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury can pile up in hair fibers through diet and different environmental conditions like hard water and pollution. While our bodies are built to naturally fight off these heavy metals, there are also a few products currently on the market that work to detox your hair and prevent metals from accumulating in the first place.
L'Oréal recently came out with a three-step hair "metal detox" system that features a patented molecule called glicoamine, a synthetic chelating agent the brand claims is small enough to attract and neutralize metals inside hair fiber. (Chelators are substances that bind to heavy metals.) When I was given the opportunity to test it out for myself, I jumped at the chance. The first step of the system can only be completed at a salon, but it's available at salons across the country through L'Oréal-trained stylists.
I split time between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and although I might need to be a scientist to understand metal in hair, I don't have to be a scientist to know that my hair feels infinitely better after washing my hair in San Francisco versus LA. In fact, earlier this year I even tried a few hair-washing hacks for softer hair because I was becoming fed up with the constant tangles and dryness that plagued my hair after every wash day in LA.
When I arrived at the salon for my appointment, a stylist talked me through the three-step treatment, which she said would cleanse the hair of existing metal build-up and prevent new metal particles from reentering the hair fiber. At the time, my hair felt dry and tangled, and although I wasn't sure whether metals, the wrong products, or just plain dryness was responsible for my current look, I was excited to see whether or not the metal detox would make a difference.
First, the stylist sprayed my dry hair with the L'Oréal Metal Detox pretreatment, a product you can only find in salons. Its main function is to neutralize metals before any color treatment, because, as I learned at my appointment, metals inside hair fiber can cause breakage and negatively affect color results. Then, she covered my hair until it was damp before letting it air-dry while she prepped a color formula for a clear gloss.
Next, the stylist applied the gloss from root to tips and let it sit for 15 minutes. We then made our way to the shampoo bowl, where she washed my hair using the L'Oréal Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo ($26), the second step in the hair metal detox and the product L'Oréal says is responsible for removing metal from my hair.
After rinsing out the shampoo, the third step in the treatment was to apply the L'Oréal Metal Detox Mask ($31) all over my hair, which the brand claims will help protect hair fiber from new metal particles. She left the mask on for about a minute then rinsed it out.
When I got back to the salon chair, she blow-dried my hair using a round brush then styled it using the L'Oréal SteamPod ($250), a flat iron that uses steam to style hair.
We didn't add any additional products afterward because I wanted to test the longevity of the treatment, and when it came time to survey the results, I was impressed. My hair looked shinier and felt softer, but it wasn't until I looked at my before and after photos that I was truly sold on the detox. Even though I didn't get a trim, my ends looked fresh, my hair was less knotty, and the frizz I was used to seeing all over was essentially nonexistent.
Although I was skeptical at first that a shampoo could remove metals from my hair and that a conditioner could protect it from future metals, I did notice that the former has more than 1,100 five-star reviews on Amazon. Most customers agreed that it was the only product that left their hair feeling soft after washing it with hard water. The conditioner also has more than 800 five-star reviews on Amazon, and reviewers stated that it left their hair feeling silky and smooth.
L'Oréal gave me the shampoo and conditioner to try after the treatment, and I have to say it made a huge difference in the way my hair felt after I washed it. Although I'm typically used to my hair feeling straw-like after a wash with Los Angeles water, this time my hair felt softer and more manageable.