Dr Vikas Sharma
Hair is an important component of personality. It is one of the few physical characteristics we can change and manipulate to the dictates of culture and fashion. Hair is an integrated system with a peculiar chemical and physical behaviour. A strong hair is a hair with its full capacity of growing healthy in both diameter and length and an intact cuticle and cortex.
Hair cosmetics are widely used to alter the physical and mechanical properties of hair, which are dependent on internal structural organisation and protein constituents. Although hair cosmetics are available, a better understanding of the hair shaft structure and behaviour, as well as information about the hair cosmetics is of utmost importance.
While wet hair can be stretched by 30 per cent of their original length without damage; however, irreversible changes occur when hair is stretched between 30 and 70 per cent. Stretching to 80 per cent causes fracture.
Hair is porous. Damaged hair is intensely so.
Hair shafts, when dry, produce static electricity. Static hair can cause hair shafts to repel, creating flyaway hair. Hair moisturizers help in reducing the static and frizz.
Successful cosmetic hair alteration requires chemical processes that alter the normal structure of the hair shaft. Bleaching, perming and straightening alter the physical properties of hair. The outer layer is removed with most of the chemical procedures and the internal disulfide bonds of the cortex are broken in hair styling with permanent waves. Excessive or repeated chemical treatment, poor grooming habits, and environmental exposure produce changes in hair texture and if extreme can result in hair breakage. These changes can be seen microscopically as “weathering” of the hair shaft and contribute to rendering the hair structurally weaker, more prone to tangling, and rougher in appearance.
Modern cosmetic products are formulated to cleanse hair of detritus, restore and improve cuticular and cortical function and reduce detangling and grooming force. Improvement in hair shine is a key benefit of modern hair cosmeceuticals.
Neat & clean
Hair cleansers are not only scalp cleaners, but indubitably act as preventing the hair shaft damage. Many scalp diseases can now also be treated by active ingredients that are added to the formulations. The cleansers are typically composed of 10–30 ingredients although products with as few as four ingredients are available.
The products are grouped into—cleansing agents; additives that contribute to the stability and comfort of the product; conditioning agents, intended to impart softness and gloss, to reduce flyaway and to enhance disentangling facility, and special care ingredients, designated to treat specific problems, such as dandruff and greasy hair.
Conditioners are used to decrease friction, detangle the hair, minimise frizz and improve combability. They contain anti-static and lubricating substances that are divided into five main groups—polymers, oils, waxes, hydrolyzed amino-acids and cationic molecules. The most active and used conditioner agent is a silicone. There are different types of silicones with different deposition, adherence and wash out capacity, which will lead to different performances of the conditioner. Dimethicone is the most widely used silicone in hair care industry, and entropy is important for its adsorption to the hair surface. Dimethicone is the main ingredient of the two-in-one shampoos. Functions of the hair conditioners include improve combability, restore hydrophobicity, seal the cuticle, avoid or minimize frizz, neutralize the negative charged net and enhance shine, smoothness and manageability.
Filling the gap
Hair serums play an important role in protecting hair from damage. These can penetrate the hair and can result in lower hygral fatigue (repeated swelling and drying), a factor that can damage hair. The hair serum can fill the gap between the cuticle cells and prevent the penetration of the aggressive substances such as surfactants into the hair follicle.
(Dr Sharma is a Panchkula-based skin specialist)
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