The natural hair community is an awesome resource. It’s full of people who want to learn what is best for their hair and scalps and people willing to help. However, there comes a time when a medical professional must enter the picture. When should you call the Dermatologist or a general medical practitioner?
- When there’s redness, swelling, heat, itching, puss or odor of the scalp, there is no ointment or grease that will help. Think of this in another area of the body. If this were your arm, leg or even in your genital region, you would be in a doctor’s office quickly. Don’t take these symptoms for granted. It usually is indicative of some sort of infection. Please don’t ignore it. Contact a dermatologist and get in as soon as possible.
- If there is sudden balding or areas that refuse to grow after applying product x, y or z for x number of days, weeks, months, years, please see a doctor. You may need to receive cortisone shots and or steroid creams to help get the follicles active and moving again. They can also look at your follicles to see if they are normal size, miniaturized or scarred. It makes a difference
- If your scalp is flaky with what appears to be severe dandruff, or scales and you have used tea tree, grease, no grease, plant based, peppermint oil, acv (apple cider vinegar) and you still have flakes, it’s time to see a doctor. You could have seborrheic dermatitis, in which the scalp is over producing oil (so adding oil may not be wise) you could have a scalp fungus that can be treated with an anti-fungal shampoo, you could have any number of things that the untrained eye would see as dandruff but it could be eczema or even psoriasis. Call a doctor.
FYI, licensed professionals should not service any head that looks as if there is an infection or communicable disease/disorder present. Stylists are also not to be the one to prescribe and treat the disease/disorder of the hair and scalp. They can, however, refer clients with hair and scalp conditions to a medical professional.
It is always nice to see a professional who has first hand knowledge of black hair. However, some cities do not have dermatologists of color or of African descent. Don’t let that keep you from going to see a dermatologist or trichologist. There are certain universal properties of the hair and scalp. Although the doctors are trained professionals they are not hair stylists and they are not always (some are, some aren’t) culturally competent. I always advocate for my clients to go to the doctor with clean unbraided hair with very little oil.
Curly/Coily hair does not receive the sebum from the scalp from roots to ends, so to keep it supple, many with this hair type add plant or commercial based oils to the hair and sometimes the scalp. If a doctor who is not of color feels the oil, he or she may think that is the reason you may have the issue. They may even advise you to use anti fungal shampoos daily, vs. when you shampoo (at least 1x every 2 weeks). Those shampoos can be harsh and strip the hair of moisture so follow it up with your standard shampoo after rinsing the medicated shampoo out and continue with a moisturizing conditioner. The hair should not be in braids, as a popular journal of dermatology did a study of tight braids and traction alopecia. If they don’t know the difference between a loose and tight braid, there could be an error and misdiagnosing. It’s better to go where they can see/feel/ and biopsy the scalp if needed.
If you don’t have insurance, contact a local clinic that may have a sliding scale for services. You can also try contacting a local university/medical training center where they train graduate level students to become dermatologists. They will usually offer clinic hours and will be supervised by a medical professional.
Many of you heard of “pH balanced” shampoos or even bought some of those, and maybe you wondered what does it mean.
I personally found these labels very confusing for the consumers. As a chemist, the first time I saw the “pH balanced” label I thought that maybe the pH is 7 (what we call neutral or balanced in chemistry). As a second thought I was asking myself: “Balanced to what?” You need to have a reference point.
The reality is there is no standardized value for the pH of a shampoo and pH value varies among different shampoos on the market. A research group in Brazil (2) analyzed 123 shampoos on the market and found pH values anywhere from 3.5 to 9.
To understand better how pH influences the hair, lets first define pH:
What is pH?
Described for the first time by the Danish biochemist Søren Peter Lauritz Sørensen in 1909, pH stands for “power of Hydrogen”(1). The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. It ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH greater than 7 is basic (or alkaline). An increased concentration of (negative) hydroxyl ions [OH-] will make a solution more alkaline, where one with increasing concentration of (positive) hydrogen ions [H+] will make it more acidic.
How does the shampoo pH influence my scalp and hair strands?
Shampoos are not cleaning only the scalp they have a strong influence on the hair shaft as well. The pH of the scalp is 5.5 and the hair shaft pH is 3.7 (2).
Any product applied on hair that has pH higher than 3.7 causes an increase of the negative charge on the hair strand which is actually an increase of static electricity and provokes repulsion between hair fibers, causing the “frizziness” effect. Water is more alkaline in nature so when the hair is rinsed, it becomes negatively charged and repels the anionic cleansing agents (surfactants), washing away the residues (2). Furthermore, hair has an increased capacity to absorb water in alkaline environment: water penetrates the cuticles which open up and breaks the hydrogen bond of the keratin molecules, causing increased cuticle removal and breakage (3).
Therefore shampoos with pH higher than 5.5 will induce frizz on normal and dry hair, and will be hard to detangle.
In order to overcome this, the pH of the shampoos is reduced to the “balanced” range (3.5 – 5.5) by addition of mild acidic substances, such as glycolic acid or citric acid. Also the hair shaft negative charges can be reduced by introduction of cationic surfactants.
This is the reason that cationic surfactants are the main components in conditioners and leave-in crèmes.
On the contrary, higher pH in a shampoo can induce the “volumizing” effect to an oily hair.
Many clarifying shampoos (used to remove a lot of buildup on the hair) use alkaline ingredients to swell the hair shaft and allow the surfactants to penetrate more deeply. Persons who use these shampoos need to use also an acidic conditioner to protect the hair shaft by contracting it and keeping the moisture inside (4).
Shampoos for colored, chemically treated hair should be formulated with a lower pH (around 4-4.5) to compensate for the raised cuticles and hair damage. And also persons with curly hair that is usually drier than the straight hair should use shampoos with lower pH.
Because the scalp pH is 5.5 like the rest of the skin, shampoos that target scalp treatments should not have pH higher than 5.5.
Pediatric shampoos have a pH around 7.0 because of the “no-tear” concept and they are not intended to treat scalp.
My hair looked and felt better when I lived in Florida
When travel or move to another location, you might have observed that your hair feels and look different, even when you use the same shampoo. That is because the water in different areas has different hardness. Hard water (which has a higher dissolved mineral content) is more alkaline (higher pH) than softer water and so the difference in hair behavior. Well water from areas that have a lot of limestone is often hard. Water that comes from lakes and rainwater is often devoid of minerals, making it soft. Adding some lemon juice and vinegar in your rinse water (to decrease the pH) are often helpful to deal with hard water issues.
- Acidic ingredients will harden and contract the hair, while alkali ingredients expand and soften the hair shaft, making it more prone to frizz and breakage.
- Enough of moisture and oil in the hair are signs of good healthy growth, which can get affected when the acidity is disturbed (5).
- In general, it is better to use shampoos with pH lower than 5.5 and avoid the use of clarifying shampoos as much as possible.
- There is no such thing as “the best shampoo” on the market. Each person should look for the “suitable shampoo” for her/him, as we all have different hair types, textures, concerns, daily activities, and live in different environments.
- Gavazzoni Dias MFR, de Almeida AM, Cecato PMR, Adriano AR, Pichler J. The Shampoo pH can Affect the Hair: Myth or Reality? International Journal of Trichology. 2014;6(3):95-99.
- Robbins CR. The physical properties and cosmetic behavior of hair. In: Robbins CR, editor. Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair. 5th ed. New York: Springer-Verlag; 2012
- Bouillon C, Wilkinson J. The science of Hair Care, Ed. Taylor & Francis, London, 2005, 92-139.
The fact that solar radiation can alter the appearance of hair is becoming more and more conscious to the mind of cosmetic consumers. In response to this, cosmetic products are tending to be more than just a concept in trying to protect the hair from those photo-induced changes.
There is also some confusion around SPF and how this translates to hair and the actual damages the rays have on our hair.
So, good to know that:
- SPF is a standard measuring factor applied to the skin ONLY. There is no Hair-SPF and the hair products that have a SPF on the package are just sending you erroneous and confusing messages.
- Some hair products show a SPF but you will see below “for scalp”; it is referring to protecting the scalp, not the hair strands.
- Effects of UVR on hair are different than those on skin.
Chronic Effects of UVR on skin and bald scalp
Terrestrial solar UVR ranges from approximately 280 to 400 nm: UVB (280-320 nm) typically induces erythema and direct DNA, whereas UVA (320-400 nm) is associated with tanning and photoaging (1). UVA also generates excess reactive oxygen species that indirectly damage DNA. (2,3). So, photocarcinogenesis and photoaging are the most two important chronic effects of UVR on the skin and bald scalp. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) has become a worldwide standard for measuring efficacy of sunscreen products in shielding the sun’s UVR.
The SPF is defined as the ratio of the UVR dose that induces the first perceptible erythema (sunburn) on sunscreen-protected skin to the UVR dose that induces the same erythema on unprotected skin. (4).
Effects of UVR on hair fibers
Contrary to the skin, the hair will not send a message of pain because of UVR overexposure; the results are rather seen after cumulating solar radiation over several weeks.
As hair is nonliving, it cannot be sunburned or undergo photocarcinogenesis; however, UV and visible radiation are very damaging to the cosmetic value of the hair. The hair will noticeably be less manageable, weaker, more brittle and will have developed more split ends (5).
Photochemical impairment of the hair includes degradation and loss of hair proteins as well as degradation of hair pigment. UVB radiation is responsible for hair protein loss and UVA radiation is responsible for hair color changes. Moreover, a study showed that acute Telogen Effluvium (sudden increase in hair loss) from prolonged UVR exposure could occur (6).
UV exposure involves considerable changes in the structure of keratin including the photo-oxidation of amino acids, sterol and fatty acids, resulting in rupture of sulphur bridges inside the hair fiber and on the surface of the cuticle, decomposition of lipids, and degradation of the pigment (melanin).
The worst effect of sunlight on hair is cystine oxidation to cysteic acid, which modifies its mechanical properties (7,8).
The natural photoprotection in hair is melanin; the degradation of the melanin by visible and UVR in the hair shaft is called photobleaching. This phenomenon is especially pronounced in blonde hair, which lightens dramatically in the summer, but also results in permanent changes in the hair shaft internal amino acids and external lipids.
Un-pigmented hair, such as gray and white hair, is more susceptible to UV damage than pigmented hair. Also, the rate of cystine disulfide bond breakage is greater for un-pigmented than pigmented hair. This means that one of the best sources of photo-protection is hair dye.
White un-pigmented hair looses more mechanical strength after UV radiation than semi-permanently or permanent dyed brown hair. The permanent hair dye acts as a passive photo filter reducing the hair fiber protein damage by attenuating the incident light. The darker the hair color the more photo-protection imparted by the dye (9). In the same time, the hair color of the artificially dyed hair is also sensitive to sun exposure, resulting in faded and dull colors.
UV filters used in hair formulations
There are many chemicals used in hair care products in order to decrease the damage of sun exposure. They are used to protect the mechanical integrity of the hair shaft or to protect the hair color, especially for hair that has been dyed. Among these, most popular are benzophenones (for UVA-UVB), phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid (UV-B), butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (UV-A), octyl dimethyl para-aminobenzoic acid PABA (UV-B).
Among these, the benzophenones have the best protection ability both on color and morphology, but there are also most unstable chemicals in formulations (10).
Most hair care products with UV filters on the market today are formulated with ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, also called octyl methoxycinnamate or octinoxate. There are also some polymeric filters, such as the polymeric organosiloxanes, which protect the artificial hair color from fading (11).
- Divya R. Sambandan and Desiree Ratner, Sunscreens: An Overview and Update, J Am Acad Dermatol 2011;64:748-58
- Dahle J, Kvam E. Induction of delayed mutations and chromosomal instability in fibroblasts after UVA-, UVB-, and X-radiation. Cancer Res 2003; 63:1464-9.
- Marrot L, Meunier JR. Skin DNA photodamage and its biological consequences. J Am Acad Dermatol 2008; 58:S139-48.
- Reinau, U. Osterwalder, E. Stockfleth and C. Surber, Meaning and Implication of the Sun Protection Factor, British Journal of Dermatology 2005.
- Dubief, C. Experiments with hair photodegradation. Cosm.Toil.107, 95-102 (1992).
- Trüeb RM (2003) Is androgenetic alopecia a photo-aggravated dermatosis? Dermatology 207: 343-348.
- Fernández et al. / Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology 106 (2012) 101–106
- Habe, T., Tanji, N., Inoue, S., Okamoto, M., Tokunaga, S. and Tanamachi, H. (2011), ToF-SIMS characterization of the lipid layer on the hair surface. I: the damage caused by chemical treatments and UV radiation. Surf. Interface Anal., 43: 410–412.
- Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, Hair, sun, regulation, and beauty, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 13, 1—2.
- Bernhardt et al., UV filters for hair protection, International Journal of Cosmetic Science 15,181-199 (1993).
- Maillan, UV Protection of artificially colored hair using a leve-in formulation, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2002, 24, 117-122.
I often hear people complaining about how their dry scalp causing them dandruff and wanted to be clear about a fact: dandruff is NOT caused by dry scalp, rather by too much oil.
What is dandruff?
Unlike classical seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff is a non-inflammatory condition of the scalp that is characterized by scaling and is considered to be a form of mild seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff is a common scalp disorder affecting almost half of the post-puberty population regardless of ethnicity and gender. Dandruff occurs when the flakes are large and are accompanied by itching and inflammation.
Although the etiology of dandruff is complex, multifactorial and not fully understood there is a general consensus that it is predicated by the following main factors:
- yeast of the genus Malassezia;
- sebum production;
- various environmental and genetic factors (episodes tending to be worse in early spring and winter, sensitivity to oleic acid).
The levels of Malassezia species on a dandruff-afflicted scalp are more than twice the levels on a normal scalp. Sebum is implicated because the yeast uses it as a feedstock, it multiplies and dandruff appears; so basically oily skin is heaven for this yeast-like fungus.
What is dry scalp?
Well, dry scalp is just dry skin on your head. Unlike dandruff, dry scalp is characterized by small, white flakes of scalp. It can be caused by severe dehydration and over-shedding of the scalp, using poor quality shampoo and conditioner which are stripping your scalp of it’s natural oils, over-washing your hair, washing your hair with hot water, or change in the seasons. Sometimes small flakes can appear as a consequence of building up styling products (certain resins can cause that) or medications like Rogaine. All these can cause flaking and can be easily mistaken for dandruff.
It’s important to understand whether you truly have dandruff or just dry scalp. Then you can decide how to best take care of your scalp; because a healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp.
- Frederik Manuel and S. Ranganathan (2011), A New Postulate on Two Stages of Dandruff: A Clinical Perspective, Int J Trichology. 2011 Jan-Jun; 3(1): 3–6.
- Park HK, Ha M-H, Park S-G, Kim MN, Kim BJ, Kim W (2012) Characterization of the Fungal Microbiota (Mycobiome) in Healthy and Dandruff-Afflicted Human Scalps. PLoS ONE 7(2).
Buriti (Mauritia flexuosa) is a palm tree native to Brazil that normally grows in swamp regions of South America. Its fruit has a hard, red and scale like skin that covers a soft and oily pulp, with color variations ranging from dark yellow to reddish (after ripening). It is possible to extract 45 kg of buriti oil from 1000 kg of ripened fruits (1). Brazilian natives, who call the buriti tree “The Tree of Life” treat this tree as sacred because it contains the nutrients and support needed to sustain life. They use the oil to protect the skin and to treat a variety of skin conditions including burns and sunburn.
Chemical composition and benefits
The buriti oil contains high concentrations of monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) which have hypocholesterolemic action (2); these concentrations (~72%) are higher than in the olive and Brazilian nut oils.
The nutraceutical fraction of the buriti oil consists of tocopherols (3) and carotenes (4), which have nutritional importance as antioxidants (vitamin E) and pro-vitamin A.
The low concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids (~4.5% of linoleic and linolenic acids) gives this oil a high oxidative stability.
Buriti is the food product showing the highest known beta-carotene concentration among the wide range of Brazilian foods already analyzed; the amount of beta-carotene can vary between 252 and 1700 mg/Kg (6,7).
Furthermore, it has been shown that topical creams and lotions, produced with buriti oil and commercial surfactants, can exert a photoprotective effect against UVA and UVB irradiation on keratinocytes and fibroblasts (8). The buriti oil emulsions could therefore be considered as potential vehicles to transport antioxidants precursors and also be used as adjuvant in sun protection, especially in after sun formulations.
Buriti oil performance on hair
Natives of Central Brazil have used buriti oil to treat dry hair (9) for a long time. Furthermore, researchers from the Natura Inovação e Tecnologia de Produtos, Brazil, evaluated the effect of different Brazilian oils (among them buriti oil) on human hair physiochemical properties (10), and the results are briefly summarized here:
- When applied on dry hair, buriti oil showed the highest difference in gloss between treated and untreated hair strands. This makes this oil very good as a shine treatment for dull and faded hair.
- The study also showed that the buriti oil helps in reducing the number of split ends during blow drying/styling.
- When doing a combing analysis, the buriti oil treatments rendered about a 60% reduction of combing force at wet conditions. The reduction of combing forces is a combination of water wetting and the lubricant effects of the oil on the hair strands. This makes the buriti oil a very good detangler agent when used on course and curly hair. On the other hand, the application of the oil on dry hair didn’t show much combing improvement (less than 10% reduction of combing forces at dry conditions).
- Mechanical properties (such as stress at break) were not influenced by the burity oil treatment. Hair strength is attributed to the cortex, which forms the bulk of the hair fiber and is responsible for mechanical properties of the strands (11). Buriti oil, being composed of high molecular weight fatty chains that are not able to penetrate through the cortex.
How to use buriti oil on hair
- ON WET HAIR – excellent hydrating, conditioning and detangler agent
Add a small amount to the conditioning treatment (conditioner or hair mask);
Use it as a combing aid on wet hair (it gives great curl definition for curly hair and decrease the frizz);
Spread it through hair it as a heat protector before styling/blow drying.
- ON DRY HAIR – great against dryness and as a shining treatment
The best use for dry hair is to dab at the ends of the hair for dryness and split ends.
For dull, color treated hair, add a small amount and spread it through the strands to add gloss to the hair.
- Because of the contributory role in protection against UV rays, it would be good to use on dry or wet hair at the beach during the summer.
Buriti oil is one of the key ingredients in the Teadora body and hair products. Teadora is the most exotic Brazilian rainforest ingredient focused bath and body product line. They have the buriti plant as the key figure in the brand logo.
We are excited to partner with Teadora to bring these all natural, organic luxurious Brazilian products to our customers.
- Simone M. Silva, Klicia A. Sampaio, Thiago Taham, Silvana A. Rocco, Roberta Ceriani, Antonio J. A. Meirelles, Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, July 2009, Volume 86, Issue 7, pp 611-616.
- Binkoski, A. E.; Kris-Etherton, P. M.; Wilson, T. A.; Mountain, M. L.; Nicolosi, R. J.; J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 2005, 105, 1080.
- Albuquerque, M. L. S.; Guedes, I.; Alcantara Jr., P.; Moreira, S. G. C.; Barbosa Neto, N. M.; Correa, D. S.; Zilio, S. C.; J. Braz. Chem. Soc. 2005, 16, 1113.
- De Rosso, V. V.; Mercadante, A. Z.; J. Agric. Food Chem. 2007, 55, 5062.
- Jailane de Souza Aquino; Débora C. N. de Pontes Pessoa, Kassandra de Lourdes G. V. Araújo; Poliana S. Epaminondas; Alexandre Ricardo P. Schuler; Antônio G. de Souza; Tânia Lúcia M. Stamford, J. Braz. Chem. Soc. vol.23 no.2 São Paulo Feb. 2012
- Silva, S. M.; Sampaio, K. A.; Taham, T.; Rocco, S. A.; Ceriane, R.; Meirelles, A. J.; J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 2009, 86, 611.
- Albuquerque, M. L. S.; Guedes, I.; Alcantara Jr., P.; Moreira, S. G. C.; Vib. Spectrosc. 2003, 33, 127.
- Zanatta CF1, Mitjans M, Urgatondo V, Rocha-Filho PA, Vinardell MP., Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Jan; 48(1):70-5.
- Renata C. Martins et. all, Ethnobotany of Mauritia flexuosa (Arecaceae) in a Maroon Community in Central Brazil, in Economic Botany, 66(1), 2012, pp. 91–98, 2011, by The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A.
- Adriana Fregonesi et. all, Brazilian oils and butters: The effect of different fatty acid chain composition on human hair physiochemical properties, J. Cosmet. Sci., 60, 273–280 (March/April 2009).
- C. R. Robbins, Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, 4th ed. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 2002), pp. 386–469.
Cosmetics industry is a highly competitive market. Many companies are in this space, providing today’s consumers thousands of skincare, hair care, make-up, fragrances and toiletries. An estimated of 10,000+ hair care products were launched in only in 2012. To have success in such competing sector, cosmetic products must differentiate which can be achieved by means of using emergent technologies, such as micro or nanoencapsulation.
Encapsulation technologies add value by introducing different functional properties to products.
What is micro/nanoencapsulation?
Micro/nanoencapsulation is the process of packaging small droplets of liquid or particles with a thin film (1). Microcapsules have diameter greater than 0.1 µm and less than 1000 µm (for comparison – 100 µm is the average diameter of a human hair strand). Nanocapsules have diameter less than 100 nm (for comparison – 2 nm is the diameter of a DNA helix)
Micro/nanocapsules are composed by two parts: the core and the shell. The core contains the active agent that can be: essential oils, fragrances, vitamin, antioxidants, or other active ingredients. The shell can be made of polymers, lipid bilayers (in the case of liposomes), lipids, nonionic surfactants (in the case of niosomes). Shells can also consist of a continuous film or can be porous.
What is the scope of encapsulation in cosmetics?
There are 3 main objectives:
- protection against degradation from external factors; protect fragrances or other active agents from oxidation caused by heat, light, moisture, or from contact with other substances over a long shelf life (2);
- controlled release of the active ingredient over a period of time (3);
- penetration enhancer into the skin or hair strands; encapsulation and carrier systems like liposomes, nanoemulsions, or lipid nanoparticles serve to transport agents to deeper skin layers.
In my opinion, hair care is one of the most promising field where encapsulate (specially at the nanoscale) can have a fast and strong impact. While the majority of research has been focused on skin care, hair care was a little bit neglected. However, in the last years, research is ongoing to discover how encapsulation techniques and nanotechnologies can be used to prevent hair loss and to maintain shine, silkiness, and health of hairs (4).
- Unlike ordinary hair straightening products nanoemulsion in hair cosmetics does not destroy the outer structure of the hair fibers (the cuticles), to penetrate into the hair strands (5).
- For example, sericin (composed of cationic sericin nanoparticles) is an active area of hair cosmetics. Studies have shown that sericin nanoparticles easily adhere to the surface of hair, sealing and treating the damaged cuticles (6).
The present and the future look very innovative as more hair care companies borrow ingredients from skin care products and apply them to both scalp and hair care. It has to start with a healthy scalp, and the scalp has to stay healthy for the hair to follow.
- Blair, H.S., Guthrie, J., Law, T. and Turkington, P. Chitosan and modified chitosan membranes, preparation and characterization. J. App. Poly. Sci 1987; 33: 641-656.
- K. Ghosh, Functional coatings and microencapsulation: a general perspective, in: Swapan Kumar Ghosh (Ed.) Functional Coatings, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, 2006, pp. 1–28.
- J. Greay, K.A. Hammer, Recent developments in the bioactivity of mono- and diterpenes: anticancer and antimicrobial activity, Phytochem. Rev. (2011)
- Alka Lohani, Anurag Verma, Himanshi Joshi, Niti Yadav, and Neha Karki, Nanotechnology-based Cosmetics, ISRN Dermatology, Volume 2014, Article ID 843687.
- Ereno, “Well-grounded Beauty,” http://revistapesquisa fapesp.br/en/2008/04/01/wellgrounded-beauty/.
- D. Carmen, V. Pereda, A. Polezel et al., “Sericin cationic nanoparticles for application in products for hair and dyed hair,” U.S. Patent 20120164196, June 2012.
Sophia Loren once said that there is a fountain of youth in each of us: “it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” If Sophia is right, and we just truly need to look into our inner self to find the fountain of youth, than why the most of us are looking to attain the modern model of physical attractiveness? Could self‐perception of aging and the perception of others aging be effected by media’s aging portrayal and the current societal “norms”?
The results of a quantitative study done with 304 Canadian women (2) puzzled the researchers: women in the study who used anti‐aging products still favored natural aging and strongly disagree with negative advertisements perpetuated by the mass media related to women and aging. Researchers in the area are still working on understanding this contradiction (5).
Youth is highly valued in western society, and younger adults are consistently viewed as more physically attractive than older adults (1). Many industries are capitalizing on these values by marketing their products and services as “anti-aging”. The term ‘anti‐aging medicine’ is used to describe “a combination of practices which include aesthetic procedures, hormone supplementation, medically supervised weight loss and exercise regimens, stress management, massage therapy, and pharmaceutical grade vitamins” (3).
I do agree with all good products and regimens that help us prevent future diseases, maintain our mind & body health and keep us healthy and sane overall. I am a scientist and curious about new and old ingredients – chemicals and biochemicals – made in the lab or derived from nature; I applaud new scientific methods that give us better and more efficient products, that make us feel good and keep us healthy, products that make our skin look better and our hair shinier.
What I do not agree with, is the term “anti-aging”. First, the term “anti‐aging medicine” implies that aging is a “disease” that can be “cured.” Secondly, it signals that the normal signs of old age, such as wrinkles and gray hair, are shameful and ugly rather than conditions to be expected and accepted (4). It seems no longer socially acceptable or even preferred to age “normally” (5).
It looks as the older woman is a part of an “at-risk” population who must monitor, treat and prevent any markers of old age. Furthermore, nowadays, young women in their yearly 20’s are told to use preventive methods or products against future unpleasant wrinkles.
We all want to experience cosmetics products that make us feel beautiful, at any age. It is good for our soul, a beauty therapy for our bodies. I just don’t want to be told that I buy a particular product because I am getting older.
How do you feel about the “anti-aging” term?
- Bugental, D. B., & Hehman, J. A. (2007). Ageism: A review of research and policy implications. Social Issues and Policy Review, 1, 173–216.
- Muise, A., & Desmarais, S. (2010). Womenʹs perceptions and use of ʺanti‐agingʺ products. Sex Roles, 63(1/2), 126‐137.
- Watts‐Roy, D. M. (2009). A protest vote? Users of anti‐aging medicine talk back. Health Sociology Review, 18(4), 434‐445.
- Palmore, E. B. (2007). Healthy Behaviors or Age Denials? Educational Gerontology, 33(12), 1087‐
- Clair Maureen Williams, Behind the mask: an analysis of women’s perceptions and rationale toward the purchase and use of anti-aging products, 2013.
Micronutrients, as opposed to macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat), are comprised of vitamins and minerals that are required in small quantities to ensure normal metabolism, growth and physical well‐being.
Do the supplements make my hair thicker, shinier, more dense, healthier in general?
Some micronutrients deficiency in our bodies lead to poor hair growth or quality, among other health-related conditions. As a consequence, different articles in general media report that the administration of these micronutrients as supplements would improve hair health and appearance. But, generally speaking, there is a lack of scientific evidence that the nutrients have a real effect on hair quality.
Despite some anecdotal reports relating that some administered substances are able to improve hair changes, in clinical practice, the results obtained are still disappointing when we are confronted to problems (1).
In developed countries, hair growth disorders caused by nutritional deficiencies in healthy individuals are rare and tend to be overestimated by patients and physicians, especially concerning vitamins. The evidence on dietary supplements in hair disorders is limited, combinations containing L-cystine are studied the most (2).
In general, when considering administering a dose of nutrients, blood flow becomes an important issue. With skin being one of the largest organs in the body and the fact that it is the primary thermoregulatory organ, there are a considerable number of vessels dedicated to perfusion of blood and nutrients. Supplying sufficient nutrients to the hair follicle and sebaceous glands are as important as acquiring the nutrients. The long and winding road to the skin and hair starts with ingestion, digestion, and absorption of nutrients. So all these stages are important when taking supplements and many factors (such as UV radiation and smoke, drug use and pathologies associated with the hair shaft and skin) will influence the digestion and assimilation of the nutrients.
Here are some micronutrients that I found scientific knowledge (or lack of) and prove on:
The primary component of hair strand is keratin (about 65–95%), the remaining constituents being represented by other proteins, water, lipids (structural or free), pigments and trace elements (3).
So healthy hair requires an adequate daily source of protein, from either animal protein or non-animal source. This is the basic important requirement for healthy hair.
Vitamin A (Retinol)
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps keep skin and mucous membranes that line the nose, sinuses, and mouth healthy. It plays a role in immune system function, growth, bone formation, reproduction, and wound healing. However, vitamin A taken in high doses especially through the intake of supplements is not only a potentially life-threatening condition due to intracranial hypertension but is also hepatotoxic. Mild hair loss is frequent in patients taking vitamin supplements containing vitamin (4).
Since vitamin A deficiency is rarely observed in people with normal nutrition, the addition of vitamin A to preparations intended to improve hair is not justified.
Vitamin B1: Thiamine
Vitamin B1 shares a role with vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (riboflavin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) as essential coenzymes for energy metabolism (5). Thiamine deficiency leads to beriberi, one feature of which is also thin hair. Recently, also particular nail alterations were described under extreme malnutrition. Both skin and nail alterations responded dramatically to thiamine injections and improvement of nutrition (6).
Thiamine is found in grains, oysters, pineapples and pork. A lot of foods are fortified with vitamin B1 in the developed countries where it is rare to get the disease. To my knowledge, there are no studies that show vitamin B1 supplementation will increase hair growth rate, hair density or thickness of the hair strands.
Vitamin B3: Niacinamide
Niacin and niacinamide respectively, make up the vitamin B3 complex. A deficiency in niacin is called pellagra, meaning “rough skin.” Early signs are diffuse hair loss, weakness, irritability, and stomatitis.
No specific data were reported on the effect of niacin substitution on hair and nail growth and quality in normal persons. Topical application of niacin derivatives, on the contrary, was shown to improve hair growth in female pattern hair loss (7), although the exact mechanism is not well understood.
Niacin occurs naturally in many foods, including greens, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, and many products are also fortified with niacin during manufacture.
Vitamin B5: Pantothenic Acid
Panthenol, the alcohol of pantothenic acid, is assumed to be a humectant and to improve the strength and flexibility of hair and the nails (1). Panthenol is also the major constituent of several oral preparations claiming to enhance hair and nail growth (8). However, excess vitamin B5 caused enlargement of the testis, diarrhea, and hair damage in rats (9).
Vitamin B6: Pyridoxal Phosphate
Vitamin B6 injections administered for a period of several weeks induced improvement in the hair condition in a number of women and it reduces the hair loss especially in alopecia of telogenic patomechanism (10).
Vitamin B12: Cyanocobalamin
The human body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and carry out other functions. Vitamin B12 cannot be made by the body; instead, it must be gotten from food or supplements.
The only foods that deliver it are meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, and other foods from animals. Strict vegetarians and vegans are at high risk for developing a B12 deficiency if they don’t eat grains that have been fortified with the vitamin or take a vitamin supplement. Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older people, one of the main reason being that the body cannot absorb the vitamin. A B12 deficiency can cause gray hair, megaloblastic anemia, peripheral neuropathy (2). However, no positive effect of vitamin B12 on hair and nail quality of well-nourished subjects has been demonstrated (11).
Studies in humans have shown a significant effect in the treatment of diffuse telogen effluvium (a type of diffusive hair loss ) with administration of L-cysteine (12).
Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid
There is no scientific basis for a general recommendation of vitamin C supplementation in individuals with poor hair and/or nail growth except when a vitamin C deficiency has convincingly been proven (13).
The process of keratinization is highly dependent on hormonal control like vitamin D3. Skin and hair follicles contain the nuclear vitamin D receptor for vitamin D3, the active hormone. Therefore, the lack of this receptor, but not vitamin D deficiency results in alopecia. Despite these apparent junctions, vitamin D supplementation has not proven to be beneficial for hair or nail quality (1).
Vitamin E: a-Tocopherol
There is some evidence for an adverse effect on hair growth following excessive vitamin E intake. However, current opinion considers vitamin E to be one of the least toxic fat-soluble vitamins (14).
There are no reports about vitamin E in persons with hair problems (15).
Vitamin H: Biotin
Biotin was called the hair and nail vitamin. It is a cofactor of several enzymes that are important
for carboxylation and epidermal differentiation. Biotin deficiency is rare because it is also produced by intestinal bacteria, but when it happens, it is reported to cause dermatitis and
hair loss in experimentally induced states. Biotin administration has been shown to be a beneficial therapy. Biotin improves hair density in people with alopecia. Apparently, when given long enough, it can also restore hair color (1).
It has not been sufficiently shown that additional supplementation of biotin in patients with normal blood levels can improve hair quality, although an effect on hair and nail structure is possible (2).
The major cause of hair loss in women before the age of 50 is nutritional, with 30% affected. Increased and persistent hair loss and reduced hair volume are occurring. The main cause appears to be depleted iron stores, compromised by a suboptimal intake of the essential amino acid L-lysine. Correction of these imbalances stops the excessive hair loss, however, it can take many months to redress the situation (16).
If iron anemia is present it should be treated with iron supplementation. However, hair loss treatment without anemia is still controversial.
A study (17) conducted on healthy young females showed that the hair calcium levels were weakly related to the quality of diet, with some synergistic interactions between nutrients, especially vitamin D and magnesium.
Zinc deficiency leads to poor hair and nail growth. A clinical response to zinc supplementation confirms the diagnosis.
Although traditionally used in unspecific hair treatments, an effect of zinc supplementation on
hair growth in patients with normal serum zinc levels has not been sufficiently proved (18).
Selenium, which is nutritionally essential for humans, is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection (19).
A deficiency has been reported in areas of soil with low selenium content and in parenteral nutrition. Although symptoms are mostly muscular and cardiac, hypopigmentation of the hair and skin can occur.
The major food sources of selenium in the American diet are breads, grains, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs (20).
Excess selenium can produce selenosis in humans affecting liver, skin, nails, and hair (1).
- E. Haneke and Robert BaranJ in . Krutmann and P. Humbert (eds.), Nutrition for Healthy Skin, 149 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2011.
- Andreas, M. Finner, Dermatol Clin 31 (2013) 167–172 Nutrition and Hair Deficiencies and Supplements.
- A. L. Miranda-Vilela, A. J. Botelho and L. A. Muehlmann, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2013, 1–10.
- A. Tosti A, Pazzaglia M. Drug reactions affecting hair: Diagnosis. Dermatol Clin 2007;25:223-31.
- Hugh D. Riordan, Nina Mikirova, Paul R. Taylor, Cindy A. Feldkamp, Joseph J. Casciari, Food and Nutrition Sciences Vol. 3 No. 9 (2012) The Effects of a Primary Nutritional Deficiency (Vitamin B Study).
- Lee, B.Y., Hogan, D.J., Ursine, S., Yanamandra, K.,Bocchini, J.A.: Personal observation of skin disorders in malnutrition. Clin. Dermatol. 24, 222–227 (2006)
- Draelos, Z.D., Jacobson, E.L., Kim, H., Kim, M., Jacobson, M.K.:A pilot study evaluating the efficacy of topically applied niacin derivatives for treatment of female pattern alopecia. J. Cosmet. Dermatol. 4, 258–261 (2005).
- Taneva, E.: Pantogar-modern treatment of hair loss, structural hair lesions, early alopecia, and dystrophy of nails, Akush. Ginekol. Sofia. 41(Suppl 1), 37–40 (2002).
- Shibata, K., Takahashi, C., Fukuwatari, T., Sasaki, R.:Effects of excess pantothenic acid administration on the other water-soluble vitamin metabolisms in rats. J. Nutr. Sci. Vitaminol. (Tokyo) 51, 385–391 (2005).
- Brzezińska-Wcisło, L.: Evaluation of vitamin B6 and calcium pantothenate effectiveness on hair growth from clinical and trichographic aspects for treatment of diffuse alopecia in women. Wiad. Lek. 54, 11–18 (2001).
- Scheinfeld, N., Dahdah, M.J., Scher, R.: Vitamins and minerals: their role in nail health and disease. J. Drugs Dermatol. 6, 782–787 (2007).
- Lengg N, Heidecker B, Seifert B, et al. Dietary supplement increases anagen rate in women with telogen effluvium: results of a randomized, placebo controlled study. Therapy 2007;(7).
- Vald.s, F.: Vitamina C. Actas. Dermosifilograf. 97, 557–568 (2006).
- McLaren DS, Loveridge N, Duthie G, Bolton-Smith C. Fat soluble vitamins. In: Garrow JS, James WPT, eds. Human Nutrition, Dietetics, 9th edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1993: 208–38.
- Pehr, K., Forsey, R.R.: Why don’t we use vitamin E in dermatology? Can. Med. Assoc. J. 149, 247–1253 (1993).
- Rushton, D.H.: Nutritional factors and hair loss. Clin. Exp. Dermatol. 27, 396–404 (2002.)
- M. Jeruszka-Bielak and A. Brzozowska, Biol Trace Elem Res. Dec 2011; 144(1-3): 63–76.
- Garcia-Machado R. Letter: zinc and hair. Lancet, 1975;2(7929):322.
- Sunde RA. Selenium. In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:225-37.
- Chun OK, Floegel A, Chung SJ, Chung CE, Song WO, Koo SI. Estimation of antioxidant intakes from diet and supplements in U.S. adults. J Nutr 2010;140:317-24.
Hair loss has really created chaos around the world now days. Recent data shows tendency of hair fall has increased in past two decades (1) being a psychological problem as well.
In particular, the Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL) is a very common form of hair loss that can occur in all ages but most commonly in postmenopausal women. It is a non-scarring progressive thinning of hair and results from a progressive decrease in the ratio of terminal hairs to shorter, thinner vellus hairs, a process known as follicular miniaturization.
In the past, the term “androgenetic alopecia” (AGA) was the primary term used to refer to this condition in both men and women. The term “andro” from ancient Greek refers to male subjects and “genetic” referred to the contribution of heredity. Over the years, “female pattern hair loss” became the preferred term for this form of hair loss. This terminology helps to distinguish the different features of the condition in women versus men and shows the lack of clear hormonal contribution in many cases. Although hormonal factors and genetic predisposition are believed to contribute to FPHL, the complete mechanism remains elusive and the most affected women have normal androgen levels (2).
So, scientists don’t know yet why certain hair follicles are programmed to have a shorter growth period than others.
However, several factors may influence hair loss, specifically in the case of temporary loss:
- Deficiency of useful minerals & vitamins in body
- Mental & emotional stress
- Prolonged illness
- Hormonal imbalance commonly seen in hyperthyroidism, imbalance in androgen & estrogen
- Usually after child birth due to hormonal imbalance
- Certain medications like blood thinners, vitamin A if taken in excess amount, non-contraceptive pills, anti depressant drugs & medicines used in chemotherapy.
- Certain infections that can promote hair loss for example fungal infection on scalp
- Diseases like diabetes may also be a precipitating factor in hair loss
- Poor blood circulation or excess blood loss
- Lack of sleep & life style disorder
- Hereditary factors
Horsetail – composition, uses and DIY
Equisetum arvense (or field horsetail) is one of the oldest plants on earth and what remain today from tree-sized fossils are the field horsetails.
Composition: No other herb in the entire plant kingdom is as rich in silicon as is horsetail. This trace element really helps to bind protein molecules together in the blood vessels and connective tissues. Silicon is the material of which collagen is made. Collagen is the “body glue” that holds our skin and muscle tissues together. It contains silicic acid and silicates (5-10%), potassium (1.8%), calcium (1.3%), aluminium, sulphur, magnesium and manganese (4). It also contains flavonoids, alkaloids and phytosterols.
Uses: Equisetum arvense extract is used mainly as collagen promoting agent in cosmetics.
In skin care, it is considered to be the best possible tonic to cure acne and eczema, known to provide excellent healing effect for most skin conditions. Horsetail improves the texture and tone of skin, and it is also used as in cosmetics as a moisturizer and skin conditioning agent (5).
In hair care, because of the high content in silica, it promotes hair growth and improves the quality and condition of hair (6). It prevents grey hair, acts against dandruff and seborrhea (7,8).
Horsetail extracts showed hair growth-stimulating effect in an aged man with alopecia (9).
Horsetail infusion preparation for use at home: Add 3 Tsp of plant (the stems are pre-cut in very small pieces) to 1L of boiling water, cover the recipient and leave it for 10 minutes. Filter the solution and use it to rinse your hair and to massage the scalp very well. The procedure needs to be repeated every time you wash your scalp and continue for 4-5 months.
Jain Deepak, Jain Yogita1, Hair loss and Herbal Medicines, Global J Trad Med Sys. 2012 September 1(1): 13-15
Anja Vujovic and Véronique Del Marmol, The Female Pattern Hair Loss: Review of Etiopathogenesis and Diagnosis, BioMed Research International, Volume 2014.
Sasaki I, Inoue S, Togiya H. Collagen synthesis-promoting agents containing plant extracts. Jpn Kokai Tokkyo Koho 2001, 11.
Carnet A, Petitjean-Freytet C, Muller D, Lamaison JL. Content of major constituents of horsetails, Equisetum arvense L. Plantes medicinales et phytotherapy 1991; 25(1): 32-8.
Yamamoto Y, Takei M. Skin-moisturizing and -conditioning preparations containing plant extracts and lipids. Jpn Kokai Tokkyo Koho 2001, 22.
Semwal et. al/ Alopecia: Switch To Herbal Medicine, Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Medicine, 2011.
Fukuda R, Kidena E. Hair preparations containing Equisetum arvense extracts for prevention of gray hair. Jpn Kokai Tokkyo Koho 2001, 10.
Kuriyama K, Watanabe Y, Hotta H, Takisada M, Senoo M, Kameyama K. Anti-acne and anti-dandruff compositions containing lignan glycosides and antisebum/antibacterial agents. Jpn Kokai Tokkyo Koho 1998.
Ikemitsu S, Ikemitsu H, Maeda T. Hair growth stimulants containing Equisetum arvense extracts. Jpn Kokai Tokkyo Koho 2001, 5.