As a scientist and creator of www.hairwonderfulday.com I always get questions about hair care and how to maintain healthy hair growth and avoid split ends. The truth is a lot of us forget to think about hair wash, the simple process that many of us do on a daily basis.
I believe that good hair care and looking after your scalp is the key to maintain healthy hair growth, however not a lot people know that how we wash our hair can have a huge impact on our overall hair look.
It is not enough to have gold shampoo, rich hair conditioners and Morrocanoil oils, simple things can be the key to achieve your dream look and all of that comes to the hair wash.
Here are some tips that you could apply day-to-day and trust me they do work:
- When you are washing your hair be GENTLE, don’t rub your hair fibers into each other, because that will cause extra friction and formation of split ends.
- When you applying shampoo and conditioner distribute it gently through your hair and massage your scalp, it is essential to use the right shampoo to maintain healthy scalp condition, which is equals to healthy hair growth
- When you drying your hair with the towel make sure you are lightly pressing to get that water out, not rubbing your hair against towel because that again can cause extra friction.
- Best way to dry your hair is with low heat because water in our hair causes cuticle swelling, which again can lead to the breakage. A lot of us believe that natural hair drying is the best, but actually low temperature heat can do more good (of course don’t forget to use heat protection!)
I always believed that simplicity is the key to everything so if you have already perfect hair care regime, adding these tips into your daily hair wash will only help you to maintain healthy hair growth and of course achieve shiny and beautiful look.
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).