Saturday, November 4, 2017

Is this oil good for MY hair?

Greetings! The blog has been very quiet lately. Life gets busy, busy, busy.

I keep reading how many people experience problems with oils. Some people's hair never met an oil it didn't like. And for others, their hair has a problem with all but 1 or 2 oils. Occasionally we try an oil and get such a bad result, we want to swear off all oils. But then you're probably missing out on some beneficial, inexpensive effects.

Here's my quick assessment checklist for whether your hair gets along with an oil or not. Don't worry that somebody else's hair does really well with an oil that makes yours look and feel awful. We're all as different as we are the same. Skin and hair chemistry vary subtly from person to person.

Good oils for your hair: A good oil for your hair will look and feel good when you apply it - maybe adding a little sheen, a smoother feel, ease of detangling. And it will still have that sheen and smoothness hours later. You may need to re-apply the oil at some point between washes, but your hair should not be worse off after using the oil.

Oils that don't work for your hair: Obviously limp, flat hair means your hair doesn't get along well with an oil - or you used too much. If your hair becomes dry, frizzy, waxy, brittle, tangly, stiff, crunchy or dull-looking - your hair is NOT getting along well with an oil you used. This may happen right away, or it may occur over the course of many hours - or maybe not until after days or weeks of use. Sometimes we blame other ingredients for some of these effects and forget to consider the oils in products.

Oils that are underwhelming: Do you keep adding oil to a deep conditioner or doing oil treatments and not seeing any result? You may not yet have found the right oil for your hair. Some people's hair will tolerate a lot of different oils without showing much change for better or worse - but when you find the right one - that's when your hair stands up and does a little dance!

Watch out for: 

  • Many products combine 1 or 2 or a whole bunch of oils (and butters, too) in a single product. If your hair does well with one of those oils, but the product as a whole does not agree with your hair - the problem may be an oil you are not familiar with. If your hair is picky about oils, save your money and don't buy products that use several different oils.
  • A problem with quantity vs. the oil itself. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If you've only ever used enough oil to get your hair greasy or wet-looking and found it too difficult to wash out, and leaving your hair feeling crunchy and like artificial hair you may need to use less to get a useful result.

Make it work for you: Not all oils are good in the same application. Some oils are nicer to use on dry or damp hair, but terrible if mixed into a conditioner - save those for oil treatments. Some oils might not provide a nice result when used during styling, but are good in a conditioner (added by you upon use, or by the manufacturer). Some oils work well for one part of styling, but not another - for example, smoothing frizz in dry hair only, or sealing damp hair only. You never know what will work - sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised. Sometimes you'll have to go wash your hair again. It's all part of the learning process, right?

What sort of hair is more picky about oils? I don't know if there is any foolproof, always-accurate way to guess with the tools we all have at our disposal. Low-porosity hair seems to be more reactive to oils sometimes. Hair which is quite coarse (wide in width) may be more picky because any added rigidity is more noticeable. Hair which tends to feel or behave wiry or springy may also be more sensitive about oil choices because of the "added rigidity" problem. Hard water can go either way, it can make your hair more or less oil-friendly. Porous hair may be more oil-loving, but it can still have bad reactions to different oils. Temperature and humidity matter too - oils may behave differently in your hair in hot weather vs. cold weather.

Monday, July 10, 2017

UV Protectant Hair Ingredients and Products

UV protectants are ideal for active people, for going to the beach where sand and water amplify UV radiation, and especially helpful for gray hair which tends to discolor (usually turning yellowish) in sunlight. Any hair benefits from UV protection because direct sunlight increases hair's porosity. Sunlight tends to make your hair's cuticles shrink and fuse together - like "shrinky dinks" or similar to what happens to hard plastic placed in a hot oven. That means tiny pores are opened up where the cuticle used to cover the hair. This takes only 200 hours in the sun - half an hour a day for just over a year.

Brown to black hair tends to fade both lighter and reddish in the sun and blonde hair and red hair lose color. Highlighted hair tends to become "brassy" and gray/white hair can turn yellowish as well.
One may not blog about summer and
sunshine without invoking a beach
scene. Here you go.

The Ingredients:
These are all UV light absorbers - the word "protectant" is commonly how these are marketed.

  • Octylmethoxycinnamate - This works best as a spray containing oils or oily ingredients - not as well in gels or shampoos or conditioners. 
  • Cinnamidopropyltrimonium chloride - This is a good UV protectant simply because it is also a substantive (bonds to hair) conditioner - it bonds to the hair whether applied as a shampoo, conditioner or spray, it stays on if you go in the water. It also helps prevent breakage because it is a conditioner. This is used in quite low concentrations – it does not need to be at the top of the ingredient list. 
  • Benzophenone-3, Benzophone-4 - Water-soluble UV absorber. For leave-on products, but may wash off if you go in the water. 
  • Quaternium-95 and Propanediol - This is also fairly new and is also a substantive conditioner, so it can be applied as a shampoo, conditioner, or leave-on and should stay on if you go in the water.

You know, wear a hat. A hat with a dense fabric (straw hats need to be a reasonably tight weave) will keep off much of the UV. Or you can buy a UPF 30 or 50-rated hat (the fabric has the UPF rating). Hats protect your eyes from sun so you don't get cataracts, keeps the sun off part of your face so you don't end up with lots of wrinkles or dry skin, prevents "part-burn." Hats keep the UV light off your hair, but your hair can still get pretty hot under a hat and dehydrate.

UV Buffs with UPF of 30 or 50 are handy too. Cover all your hair - if you have long hair, pin the ends up so they're covered.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Humidity-Resistant Hair Styling Products

It's the unofficial start of summer this weekend. For a lot of us, that means humid weather and frizzy hair - whether the dewpoint is high (above 50°F/10°C) or it's foggy, dewy or rainy.
Raindrops on a Monarda

In the last decade or so, the creative folks who make cosmetics ingredients have developed ingredients that withstand high humidity better than some of the older ingredients for providing "hold." They are slowly working their way into products in a variety of brands.

These ingredients are polymers - film-forming, even hold-providing. The performance of the product as a whole is the sum of its parts - so you do want to look for these ingredients if you really need to keep your hair together in high humidity - but keep in mind that just because they're in a product doesn't mean the product will suit your hair or your hairstyle.

What is humidity-resistance? It means a product is less likely to lose it's hold or allow your hair to lose its shape in high humidity as your hair (and the products in your hair) absorb moisture from the air around them. This is tested in the lab by applying a product to locks of hair and placing them in a humidity and temperature-controlled chamber for a period of time - usually many hours. Sometimes the hair is left in its natural state to see how much it expands. Sometimes the hair is intentionally curled to see how well it retains the curl. Good humidity-resistance means the hair doesn't lose it's shape too much, despite very high humidity conditions. That should apply to straightened hair too.

The Ingredients:
  • Polyquaternium-69
  • Polyamide-1 (usually used with another ingredient for hold and humidity-resistance)
  • Polyquaternium-72
  • Polyquaternium-11
  • Polyquaternium-10
  • Polyquaternium-4 
  • PVA/VP Copolymer (particularly in addition to any of the others here, alone it tends to fail in very high humidity over time)
  • "Acrylates copolymer" ingredients (often found in hairsprays, but now also in gels and other styling products) such as:
    • VP/DMAPA Acrylates Copolymer
    • "Polyacrylate acid"
    • Polyacrylate-2 Crosspolymer

Some Products Containing These Ingredients - as always, double-check the ingredient lists:
  • Alba Botanica Soft Hold Style Cream
  • Alba Botanica Strong Hold Gel
  • AG Volume Foam Weightless Volumizer
  • Arvazilla Ultra Curl Defining Cream with Argan Oil
  • Aussie Miraculously Smooth gel
  • Aussie Instant Freeze Gel
  • Bain De Terre Bamboo Ultra Control Styling Gel
  • Beyond The Zone Bada Bing Super Hold Gel
  • Biosilk Rock Hard Gelee
  • Bounce Curl Light Creme Gel
  • Boo Bamboo Frizz Contro Curl Defining Gel
  • Boogie’s Bold Hair Gel
  • Bronner Brothers Foam Moisturizing Wrapping Lotion
  • Bumble and Bumble Anti-Humidity Gel-Oil
  • Bumble and Bumble Curl Defining Creme
  • Bumble and Bumble Curl Conditioning Mousse
  • Bumble and Bumble Multi-Talented Sculpting Medium (gel)
  • Boldify Curl Defining Cream
  • Curl Friends Control Gel
  • Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper Gel
  • Deva Curl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam
  • Dippity-Do Girls with Curls Curl Boosting Mousse
  • Fragfre Styling Gel
  • Free & Clear Styling Gel
  • Got2B Glued Spiking Glue
  • It’s A 10 Miracle Hold Gel
  • It's A 10 Miracle Styling Cream
  • Jessicurl Spiralicious
  • Kenra Curl Control Gel 10
  • Kenra Curl Glaze Mousse 13
  • Kenra Curl Defining Cream
  • LA Looks Nutra Curl
  • L'Oreal EverCurl Sculpt and Hold Cream Gel
  • L'Oreal Studio Head Lock Mega Gel
  • Madam CJ Walker Humidity Block Curl Gel
  • Mop Top Medium Hold Anti-Frizz gel
  • Moroccanoil Styling Gel Strong hold
  • North American Hemp Co. Mousse
  • Not Your Mother’s Kinky Moves Curl Defining Hair Cream
  • OGX Coconut Curls Moisture Mousse
  • One N Only Argan Oil Mousse
  • Ouidad Climate Control gel
  • R+Co Twister Curl Primer 
  • So Gorgeous Non Aerosol Volumizing Mousse
  • Schwarzkopf Amino-Q Hold Gel
  • Smooth Viking Strong hold Hair Gel
  • Tresemme Tres Two Extra Hold Hair Gel
  • Tigi Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier
  • Paul Mitchell Curls Ultimate Wave beachy texture cream-gel
  • Paul Mitchell Express Style Fast Form
  • Philip B Styling Gel
  • V05 Mega Hold Styling Gel (UK and European product)
  • Wet Line Xtreme Professional Styling Gel

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Scientifically tested, over-the-counter treatments for thinning hair

Please remember that this information can and should never replace the care and advice of a physician. If you experience hair thinning, seek consultation with a medical professional who listens and will physically examine your scalp.

Be aware that scalps can be sensitive to any and all treatments and products, including natural ones. Scalps that are losing hair may be more sensitive than scalps in which hair density is stable.

This post has lots of links. Where I can link you to a full article, I did. Otherwise, I linked to abstracts, which contain a summary of the study's contents.

Updated: January, 2018

Androgenic alopecia is the clinical term of male and female pattern hair loss. It’s one of those diagnoses of exclusion. If you don’t have telogen effluvium (hair loss following an exposure to an allergen, due to physical or mental trauma), or alopecia areata (patches of hair loss), traction alopecia due to tension on your scalp, or hair loss due to thyroid disease, scalp disease or polycystic ovarian syndrome - then you likely have androgenic alopecia.©Science-y Hair Blog 2017

If you start to experience hair loss that is more than you are accustomed to, it’s ideal to have a doctor or dermatologist check for other causes of hair loss before concluding you have androgenic alopecia. Hair loss can be a sign that something else is wrong.

Female pattern hair loss and male pattern hair loss take on different patterns, which you can find men's here and women's here. ©Science-y Hair Blog 2017

Androgens are hormones which are more abundant in men than women, specifically testosterone. Testosterone circulates in your blood and in the hair follicle, can be transformed into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme alpha-5 reductase in your hair follicles. This is thought to be damaging to hair follicles. The end result is that hair follicles begin to produce narrow, “vellus” hairs. Like the hairs on non-hairy parts of your body, they are very thin, narrow and difficult to see. As these replace normal-width hairs on your head, overall hair thickness decreases.

Note that the "DHT-causes-hair-thinning" idea is not unequivocally proven. There are other variables at work on scalps with thinning hair like low-grade inflammation and atopy (allergy to airborne allergens, contact allergens, yeasts in normal scalp flora).©Science-y Hair Blog 2017

There are some proven treatments for Androgenic alopecia which work in a variety of ways. These are ones you can buy over the counter, they don't require a prescription. Some of them you can use together because different treatments address different causes of hair thinning, such as enzymatic pathways or circulation or inflammation. If in doubt, ask a pharmacist, doctor or dermatologist.

1) Minoxidil. For example: Rogaine. Minoxidil must be applied twice daily as indicated on the label. ©Science-y Hair Blog 2017
Everybody (women and men) can to use the 5% men’s strength to get the best result.
Minoxidil must be used twice daily to achieve the best result. Minoxidil is effective in around 50% to 60% of people who use it. Minoxidil is a vasodilator (expands blood vessels to increase blood flow).

2) Topical caffeine.  
It has to go on your scalp, drinking caffeinated beverages doesn’t count. 

Caffeine is a quickly-absorbed vasodilator to increase blood flow in the scalp. Caffeine does not need to stay on the scalp until the next washing (that's why shampoos work), but it does need about 2 minutes to absorb into your skin before rinsing
In men especially, topical caffeine may decrease trans-epidermal water loss, which means skin stays hydrated.
The concentration used in the studies linked here is 0.001% to 0.005% - very low for an active ingredient.
Topical caffeine affects the whole body and too much on your skin is the same as too much when ingested. Larger concentrations can be dangerous. If you're caffeine-sensitive, yes - this might keep you awake if you use caffeine in products at night.
In lab tests on skin in culture which was treated with testosterone, hair growth was suppressed. When topical caffeine was added, it stimulated hair growth back to normal, so there may be an element of DHT and alpha-5 reductase.
Caffeine stimulates hair growth and helps hair stay in anagen phase longer - the growing phase - than it otherwise might in people with androgenic alopecia.
Caffeine can slow down excessive shedding and stimulate hair growth.
Topical caffeine has been measured to stay active in hair follicles for up to 48 hours, so it needs to be used every 1-2 days to be most effective.©Science-y Hair Blog 2017

There are a number of products - shampoos, sprays, serums you can purchase which already contain caffeine. Some contain additional ingredients which may be beneficial. There is a do-it-yourself recipe following this list.

Caffeine-Containing Hair Products

Alpecin Caffeine shampoo (with ketoconazole)
Alpecin After Shampoo Liquid
Amplixin Intensive Hair Growth Serum
Dove Men + Care Fortifying 2 In 1 Shampoo, Complete 2-in-1 shampoo
Art Naturals Organic Argan Oil Hair Loss Shampoo
GrowMe Shampoo, Sulfate Free - Watermans UK brand
ConditionMe Hair Growth Conditioner - Watermans UK brand
Hair Lab Hair Growth Serum
Hair Lab Regrowth & Thickening Shampoo
Man Cave Caffeine Shampoo
OGX Fight Fallout Niacin & Caffeine Plus Shampoo
OGX Fight Fallout Niacin & Caffeine Conditioner
OGX Fight Fallout Root Stimulator
Pura D'Or Anti Hair Loss Argan Oil Shampoo (with pyrithione zinc)
Revita Hair Stimulating Shampoo (with ketoconazole) (Sulfate free) (Not for vegetarians)
SebaMed Scalp Activating Shampoo for Thinning Hair
Thicker Fuller Hair Shampoo
Thicker Fuller Hair Weightless Conditioner
Thicker Fuller Hair Instantly Thick Serum (this is a styling product, not a scalp product)
Ultrax Hair Surge Caffeine Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo
Ultrax Hair Solace Conditioner
Ultrax Labs Hair Lush Thickening treatment serum
Wick and Strom Anti Hair Loss Shampoo (with ketoconazole)

DIY caffeine recipe: Mix the contents of one, 200 mg capsule of caffeine powder (such as this one with no fillers or additives) with 1 gallon (about 4 liters) distilled water. Use as a spray or put in a dropper bottle. Using too much can cause the same side effects as ingesting too much caffeine, or can cause scalp irritation. ©Science-y Hair Blog 2017
The end concentration is 0.005% with this mixture.
This recipe is cheap and it really works! I was experiencing extra hair loss and using this on my scalp every other day has reduced my shedding by about 60%.

Can brewed tea or coffee be used?
Yes! But not decaffeinated tea or coffee. Tea and coffee can create cool tones in hair. The tea or coffee needs to contact your scalp and be left on for at least 2 minutes.

3) Ketoconazole shampoo

Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal medication that can help reduce hair loss - it’s sold for managing seborrheic dermatitis - dandruff. Higher concentrations are found in Nizoral shampoo, and Regenepure DR in the US. There are some shampoos with both caffeine and ketoconazole in the list above (Alpecin Caffeine shampoo, Revita Hair Stimulating Shampoo, Wick and Strom Anti Hair Loss Shampoo). Ketoconazole may help by ultimately reducing inflammation, or by interfering with the alpha-5 reductase enzyme. ©Science-y Hair Blog 2017
Ketoconazole shampoos are used every 2-3 days in studies that showed decreased hair loss by about 17%, a greater number of hairs in anagen phase (growing phase), greater hair density and width (compared to narrowing hairs with androgenic alopecia).
It may be especially helpful for thinning hair if you have ever had seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, or itchy scalp or any sort of scalp flaking, including little powdery dry flakes.
Results are similar to 2% Minoxidil - which is response in approximately 40% to 50% of people using it.

4) Pyrithione zinc shampoo

This is another dandruff shampoo that can decrease inflammation in the scalp and slow hair shedding (by about 10%). It may or may not encourage more normal-width hairs to grow, depending on the study.
It may be more helpful if you’ve ever had seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, or itchy scalp.
Use a pyrithione zinc shampoo every 2-3 days.

5) Pumpkin seed oil (with other active ingredients) 

Pumpkin seed oil supplements in one, 6-month study which was double-blinded and placebo-controlled (the gold standard for studies such as this) had a positive effect on hair re-growth in men with mild to moderate androgenic alopecia. That translates into 40% increases in hair counts in men treated with pumpkin seed oil after 24 weeks versus only 10% increases in hair counts for men in the placebo group.
In animal studies, pumpkin seed oil alone has been demonstrated to block the action of alpha-5 reductase.
The dose was 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil in 4 capsules, 2 were taken with a morning meal and 2 with the evening meal, though the product used was not exclusively pumpkin seed oil. 

The specific supplement used in this study was
Octo-Sabal Plus” which is not available in the U.S., containing : Octacosanol, Pumpkin seed powder, Mixed vegetable powder, Evening primrose powder, Corn silk extracted powder, Red clover powder, Tomato powder. These are not inactive ingredients, though we don't know the dosage. 

  • Red clover extract is a phytoestrogen (plant estrogen), corn silk extract contains plant sterols which may help with glucose metabolism. Phytoestrogens from plants may modify the onset of androgenic alopecia by reducing inflammation around hair follicles.
  • Octocosanol may have anti-inflammatory effects and/or improve lipid metabolism. 
  • Tomato powder may reduce inflammation and improve lipid metabolism.
  • This supplement contains some of the same active ingredients.
Pumpkin seed oil may also support nitric oxide formation, an effect which may be supportive of healthy skin barrier function

A tablespoon or about 15 ml of pumpkin seeds contains about 5 grams of fat (oils), which is 5000 mg - more than used in this study. If you regularly eat pumpkin seeds - it may be having a similar effect. And you get other nutrients too!

6) Protective foods and nutrients: 

  • Regular consumption (1-3 days per week at least) of soy beverages (for the phytoestrogen content). One study of men with moderate to severe androgenic alopecia (including more of the scalp) found that regular consumption of soy beverages and higher vanadium intake appeared to be protective of hair thinning. It is a study done in Taiwan, of men only.
  • Higher vanadium intake. Having an adequate intake of vanadium, which is especially high in shellfish, mushrooms, parsley and dill, is correlated with a lower likelihood of having moderate to severe androgenic alopecia, mild androgenic alopecia is still possible. 

7) Protective behaviors: Sleep
Sleeping for fewer than 6 hours each night is correlated with more widespread hair thinning in men with androgenic alopecia (in the reference linked in #6). I know, you don’t need to hear that, busy people and night owls. Get 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night!

8) Nigella sativa oil (topical), aka black cumin seed oil for telogen effluvium.

One double-blinded, placebo controlled study (pdf link) showed this oil, diluted and applied topically, can be helpful in re-growth of hair after telogen effluvium, which is significant hair loss following childbirth, serious illness, major surgery, exposure to severe allergens or irritants, severe emotional stress, significant weight loss. Acute telogen effluvium can persist up to 6 months after the initial provocation, but it lasts typically 3-6 months. Chronic telogen effluvium lasts longer than 6 months and can last for years. It is spread over the whole scalp, not in a pattern like androgenic alopecia although one may have thinning at both temples.

The “recipe” used in the study is 0.5% Nigella sativa oil, 3% glycerin, 0.4% lavender oil, and 60% alcohol, adding water to make up the balance of 100%. You should not put Nigella sativa oil on your scalp undiluted.
This was applied daily to the scalp for 6 months.
At 3 months, 9 of 10 patients receiving this treatment had increased hair counts, and half continued to have increased hair counts at 6 months.
Placebo-treated patients had improvement in 6 of 10 at 3 months and 6 months showed hair loss rather than increase.
Can you create this formula at home? Yes. You need a scale. This would usually be formulated with ethanol as the alcohol. the “60%” is a volume or weight, not a percentage alcohol or “proof.”
So if you were making 100g of this, you’d use 0.5g Nigella sativa oil, 0.4 g lavendar oil, 3 g glycerin, 60 g ethanol (vodka, or something with the highest proof number you can get) and just under 40g water.
What about another application method? If you oil your scalp overnight, add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Nigella sativa oil to 1/2 cup (4 oz., 125 ml) oil of your choice and use that mixture lightly on your scalp. Add 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil if you like that fragrance better than smelling like cumin.

9) Melatonin (topical)

One study of topical melatonin in androgenic alopecia found that both men and women, treated with a 0.0033% melatonin solution (with other ingredients) experiences a reduction in hair loss of up to 60%. Seborrheic dermatitis was also improved, when it was present. Melatonin may work through an anti-oxidant effect on a scalp experiencing oxidative stress. ©Science-y Hair Blog 2017

Products for the scalp containing melatonin include Asatex
One "Full dropper" of this liquid melatonin product in 100 grams water will equal approximately the concentration used in the study linked above.
Melatonin products are applied to the scalp daily or taking 1 or 2 days off per week.
Because we have melatonin receptors in our skin, you may experience some sensations of sleepiness or dizziness after applying such a product, just like melatonin supplements. People who have asthma are cautioned to avoid melatonin, and probably need to avoid topical melatonin too. Use with caution! 

DIY leave-on melatonin: If you have a scale that weighs in tenths of milligrams, you can use a powdered melatonin with no fillers like this one. The final concentration would be 0.3 mg melatonin per 100 grams distilled or deionized water. But it won't dissolve in the water. First, mix the melatonin powder with glycerin. Use as little glycerin as you need to get it to dissolve so it won't be sticky. Once it is dissolved, add the water to the glycerin/melatonin mixture. Use this as a spray or in a dropper-type bottle to apply to the scalp.

10) Essential oil blend in carrier oils (for alopecia areata)

In one study, 44% of participants treated with a blend of essential oils in a carrier oil blend (compared to only 6% of the group who used the carrier oils without the essential oils) experienced improvement in return of hair with this particular form of hair loss. The study is linked here and they provide their formula (Scroll down to "Materials and Methods). 

These essential oils have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial effects and can promote healing in skin. The oil was applied to the scalp at night (every night), massaged for 2 minutes, then wrapped with a warm towel. No mention is made of whether the scalp/hair was washed in the morning.
This was done nightly for 3-7 months.

This formula is not without risks. Essential oils, even diluted, can cause scalp irritation (which can provoke hair loss - ironically). People with seborrheic dermatitis or very sensitive skin may react badly to the application of oils to the scalp, or may be sensitive to the essential oils. The fragrance of this blend is very strong!

11) Red Clover extract with Acetyl Tetrapeptide-3 (topical)
This ingredient has been shown to inhibit the alpha-5-reductase enzyme, encourage collagen production in the hair follicle (which may stimulate hair growth - this is not entirely clear), and inhibit some pro-inflammatory compounds in the skin. After 4 months of treatment, in a very small (14-person treated, 15 placebo) study, the treated group had significantly (statistically significant = unlikely to be due to chance) more hairs in anagen phase - new hair growth - than the untreated group. 15% more hairs in anagen phase than the untreated group. There was also a reduction in hairs in telogen -getting ready to fall out- phase - was about 30% fewer than the untreated group. That means a net gain in hairs both growing in new, and staying on the scalp longer before falling out. This study was published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science (pdf link). For people with male/female pattern hair loss, that means hairs stay growing for a "normal" life span rather than a shortened life span typical of pattern hair loss. Bear in mind - this is a very small test group!

The treatment was left on, and based on the molecular weights of the active ingredients, a leave-on treatment may be more effective than a shampoo.

You can find these ingredients in:
  • Alterna Caviar Clinical Root and Scalp Stimulator
  • Amplixin Shampoo
  • Amplixin Conditioner
  • Beauty Facial Extreme (BFE) Hair Regrowth Serum
  • Keranique Follicle Boosting Serum
  • Peter Thomas Roth Hair To Die For Treatment Serum
  • Strong Hairpro Deep Scalp Hair Therapy
  • Shea Moisture Jamacian Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Grow Shampoo

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Shampoos Which Remove: Product Build-Up

This is essentially a recycled and updated post from 2011. Recycling is good, right!?

Build-up from hair products is usually 2 things:

- Oily residues like actual oils and butters, creamy ingredients like Cetyl alcohol and other emollient ingredients
- Cationic ingredients that bond to the hair. When they're good, they're very good and when there is too much, you feel "build-up."

Here I’m referring to 2 classes of chemicals: Quaternary cationic surfactants and cationic polymers. First off, cationic means something has a net positive charge (+). Hair has a net negative charge at the pH environment in which it usually exists (somewhere between pH 4.5 and 5 is average). Opposites attract (positive and negative) when it comes to hair and conditioner. More-damaged hair (the ends, heat-styled, sun-damaged, chemically relaxed, permed, highlighted) has more negative bonds and will bond with or "adsorb" more cationic ingredients. But it also loses them more quickly.

Low porosity hair has fewer negative charges to adsorb conditioners and cationic ingredients. It is also more likely for the owner of low-porosity hair to notice / experience "product build-up."

Quaternary cationic surfactants (and cationic polymers) are the real “conditioners” in hair and skin products. They bond to hair (and skin). Cationic polymers in styling products (Polyquaternium-4, for example) also bond to hair to form a film that provides hold and humidity resistance.

Build-up tends to look like you'd rubbed your hair with a balloon (static-y, flyaway, self-repellant). Or it can look sticky and stringy. Or dull and matted. Wavy, curly or coily hair might not pull together in it's proper curl pattern when you have build-up. Straight hair might get stringy or increase in volume (not necessarily in a good way).

Quaternary Cationic Surfactants:©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Quaternary cationic surfactants include ingredients such as:

Behentrimonium chloride, Behentrimonium methosulfate, Cetrimonium bromide, Cetrimonium chloride, Stearalkonium chloride, Dicetyldimonium chloride, Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride.

Most of these are not water soluble, but water-solubility doesn’t much matter because they’re bonding to your hair. Imagine magnets – the positive end of the quaternary cationic surfactant bonds to the negative hair. The thing is, it’s a pretty tight grip. Think giant magnets. Electromagnets that are used in scrap metal yards. This is known as “substantivity” in cosmetics chemistry.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Having these ingredients on your hair is not a problem in itself. Not unless you experience symptoms of build-up. Shampooing is not always a solution because most shampoos are based on anionic (negatively charged) surfactants. And now you’re saying, wait, that should mean that it should remove the cationic stuff because it has a negative charge and opposites attract. Yes! But the hair holds the cationics too tightly. The shampoo (anionic) may not be a big enough “magnet” to remove the cationic (conditioner or polymer).©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Cationic Polymers:

Cationic Polymers include polyquaterniums (Polyquaternium-4, Polyquaternium-10, Polyquaternium-11, for example). These ingredients are very often water-soluble, but that’s not terribly relevant because they also get a tight grip on hair and so they don’t rinse off. Polyquaterniums are used in shampoos and conditioners to provide lightweight conditioning and frizz-prevention and used in hair styling products because they form stiff films over the hair to provide firm hold. They can add body to fine hair because of their hold/fixative-providing and film-forming behavior.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Polyquaternium 4 gives strong hold and may be easier to remove than Polyquaternium 10 or 11, in other words, it is more possible to pry it off with water and a detergent. Certain proteins and quaternary cationic surfactants can bond more firmly with hair than does polyquat-4. There are many other Polyquaterniums (with other numbers following them -7, 37, 44, 67…), all of which will bond more or less tenaciously to hair. Polyquaternium 10 may also be easier to remove than some of the others, there is even a “low residue” version of this polymer available, although it is doubtful that this distinction would be revealed in an ingredient list.

Concentration is important. The more polymer there is, the more the possibility for build up. If you are looking at a product with 20 ingredients and a Polyquaternium is ingredient #15 or #30, there isn’t much in there. But if it is ingredient number 3 or 4, there is more present. And even that is misleading because the actual percentage could be pretty low. So it’s best to judge by whether or not you get consistently good results from a product.©Science-y Hair Blog 201

How to Deal With Build-Up

There are 2 ingredients to look for in a shampoo to remove cationic build up most effectively:

Alkyl sulfates or alkyl sulfonates are anionic, but are better at removing cationic soils than other “sulfate” detergents (this has been demonstrated through controlled testing).

Look for C14-16 olefin sulfonate. These are deep-cleaning detergents, but can be diluted with water for a milder product. However - this is not an especially mild detergent, it's a good de-greaser. Formulation matters!!! When there is more detergent (higher concentration), the product will be more "stripping." When there are fewer mildness-increasers like humectants, or ingredients to make the product look pearly and translucent, the formula will feel less pleasant to use.

Also look for Sodium polystyrene sulfonate. This ingredient helps remove 25% more cationic soil than rinsing alone or shampooing (even with a “sulfate” shampoo). It is not a detergent.

Shampoos with the ingredients mentioned:

Chi Infra Moisture Therapy Shampoo

Pure & Basic Clarifying Citrus Shampoo (C 14-16 olefin sulfonate and Sodium polystyrene sulfonate)
Nexxus Phyto Organics Kelate Purifying Shampoo (Sodium polystyrene sulfonate)

Pureology Safeguard Your Color Purify Shampoo (Sodium polystyrene sulfonate)

Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo (Sodium polystyrene sulfonate)

Ouidad Superfruit Renewal Clarifying Shampoo (C 14-16 olefin sulfonate and Sodium polystyrene sulfonate)
Warren Tricomi Style Smoothing Shampoo (Sodium polystyrene sulfonate)

Kinky Curly Come Clean (C 14-16 olefin sulfonate)

Kenra Volumizing Shampoo (C 14-16 olefin sulfonate)

Trader Joe's Refresh (Body Wash), (C 14-16 olefin sulfonate)

Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo (C 14-16 olefin sulfonate)


J. Soc.Cosmetic Chem.,43, 259-273 (September/Octobber 1992)

J. Soc.Cosmetic Cthem.,40, 205-214 (July/Augus 1989)

Removal of Cationic Buildup From Keratin Surfaces By Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate

Presented at PCIA Shanghai - March 2002

Monday, May 30, 2016

Detergents Which Remove: Silicones

If you're not already aware of it, and I assume you are if you're reading this, some people avoid silicone-based ingredients in hair care products for various reasons. Some people get a slick, fake-hair feeling in their hair, or a heavy, limp feeling. Silicone build-up's feel (if your hair gets any at all) depends on which silicone you've been using. If you don't use shampoo - you wash your hair with conditioner for example - your hair is more likely to accumulate silicones because you are not washing them off with detergent between applications. If you used them very rarely though - would it matter?

Don't avoid silicones if they don't cause problems for you. For real. Silicones are reversible. They wash out. You'd think they were permanent, based on some of the bad press they get. They can even be removed with non-detergent ingredients if you dare not let a single bubble near your hair (blog post about that is coming up soon).

"Silicones" refers to a group of synthetic emollients that are used in products for their lubrication (in wet and dry hair), shine, and increased flexibility. Silicone ingredients do not soak in to the hair because they're too large, so they stay there on the surface, doing their job, adding shine and lubrication.

Lubrication prevents friction and tangles and help hairs line up neatly with their neighbors - an effect that also increases sheen (shine).

You can find a list of silicones in this post. Dimethicone is a common silicone in conditioners, anti-frizz serums and shampoos, for example.

If you're usually a silicone-avoider but want to use them occasionally, or you just love them, but your hair needs to start with a clean slate occasionally, this post is for you. As emollients (synthetic oils), silicones need a detergent to remove them, should you want or need to do that.

Some detergents are better at "de-greasing" than others, so they'll do a much better job at removing silicones. Anionic detergents typically are the better de-greasers. Anionic detergents make lots of foam. The polar end of the detergent is negatively charged, that's where the name "anionic" comes from.

Look for these detergents in a shampoo to remove silicone accumulation. Keep in mind that if you have some build-up in your hair that you attribute to "silicones" - it may be more complicated than you realize. You may have hard water residue in your hair. Or conditioner build up as well, or residue from a styling product. Stay tuned for a post about what to use to remove those as well!

Anionic detergents common in shampoos: These detergents remove silicones alone or (for the milder ones) in combination with others.
  • Sodium laureth sulfate (milder of the sulfates - milder than "lauryl sulfate")
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Ammonium laureth sulfate (milder of the sulfates - milder than "lauryl sulfate")
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium coco sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • C14-16 Olefin sulfonate or Sodium C14-16 Olefin sulfonate
  • Sodium carboxylate (soap)
  • Sodium cocoyl isethionate (mild)
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (mild)
  • Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (mild)
  • Sodium methyl cocoyl taurate (mild)
  • Sodium lauroyl glutamate (mild)
  • Sodium cocoyl glutamate (mild)
  • Sodium lauroyl Sarcosinate
  • Sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate
  • Sodium methyl cocoyl taurate (mild)

Amphoteric detergents common in shampoos: These likely help remove silicones, especially in combination with anionic surfactants but may work alone or with non-ionic detergents also. These detergents tend to make a formula milder.
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Coco betaine
  • Cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine
  • Lauryl hydroxysultaine
  • Sodium cocoamphoacetate
  • Sodium Lauroamphoacetate

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Vegetarian-Friendly Protein Treatments for Hair

The only vegetarian protein recipe treatment I have listed on this blog is for beer, which you can find here along with an explanation of why it works. I like that treatment because it gives you a very noticeable result with one treatment, whether you leave it in or rinse it out - no conditioners. The products in the list below may or may not meet your preferences for natural or organic or any particular ingredients or manufacturing practices you wish to avoid, but the protein sources are plant-based.

How to make a protein-containing product (of any kind) MORE strong/intense:
1) Leave it on for more time (5, 15, or 30 minutes - if your hair really loves protein, maybe 60 minutes). More time allows small, penetrating-size proteins to soak in, medium-size proteins more time to bond with hair.
2) Use heat. Heat causes wet hair to swell slightly - creating more surface for proteins to bond with and allows more "soaking in" of small proteins

How to make a protein-containing product (of any kind) LESS strong/intense:
1) Leave it on for less time
2) Don't use heat

How do I know how strong these are?
  • Protein treatment: Product with a higher concentration of protein, will be more "strong" in any method of application.
  • Protein-containing conditioner: A conditioner which has protein added in a lower concentration than a protein treatment. Includes protein-containing deep conditioners which aren't labeled "protein treatments," "protein packs," or "intensive strengthening."
  • If protein is in the first 5 or 6 ingredients listed, it's a strong treatment.
  • Refer to this post to find out whether the protein is large or small - combinations of several large proteins can be more problematic than combinations of small and medium proteins. I don't have molecular weight for all the vegetable proteins. Corn and soy tend to be medium, hydrating and conditioning. Oat, wheat, and quinoa proteins tend to be large and supportive (there are some smaller wheat proteins out there) - good in styling products. Amino acids are small and hydrating. "Vegetable protein" - anybody's guess!
Now that's all out of the way, the list:

  • Nutress Hair Moisturizing Protein Pack - Vegetable protein (quaternized to make it extra conditioning)
  • Nutress Stop Break (spray) - Wheat or vegetable protein (ingredient lists are difficult to come by)
  • Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Conditioner - Corn, soy and wheat proteins
  • Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Shampoo - Corn, soy and wheat proteins
  • Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Reconstructing Strength Butter - Corn, soy and wheat proteins
  • Hydratherma Naturals Amino Plus Protein Deep Conditioning Treatment - Soy, silk amino acids, rice, corn + 8 individual amino acids
  • Hydratherma Naturals Moisture Boosting Deep Conditioning Treatment - Wheat protein
  • Giovanni Smooth as Silk Xtreme Protein Hair Infusion - Soy protein
  • Giovanni Smooth as Silk Deeper Moisture Conditioner - Soy protein
  • Hugo Naturals Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner, Vanilla and Sweet Orange - Rice protein
  • Mane N Tail Deep Moisturizing Conditioner  - Wheat protein
  • Mill Creek Fantastic Silver Conditioner - Soy protein
  • Nature's Gate Conditioners: 
    • Awapuhi - Soy, Vegetable proteins
    • Lemongrass and Clary Sage Volumizing - Wheat protein
    • Pomegranate Sunflower Hair Defense - Soy, Vegetable proteins
    • Chamomile Repleneshing Conditioner - Soy, Vegetable proteins
  • Nature's Gate Shampoos: 
    • Awapuhi Volumizing Shampoo Soy protein
    • Biotin Strengthening Shampoo - Soy, Vegetable proteins 
    • Lemongrass and Clary Sage Volumizing Shampoo - Wheat protein
  • Ouidad Botanical Boost spray  - Corn, wheat proteins
  • Shea Moisture Noni & Monoi Smoothing and Repair Masque - Vegetable protein