Growth factors; hair dye, hair loss

Nov 01, 2007, 4:00am

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Q Are growth factors effective moisturizing ingredients?

A Growth factors are becoming very popular in the cosmeceuticals realm. Their topical efficacy is poorly understood. Much of the immediate visual improvement following topical growth factor application may be due to the film-forming characteristics of the proteins in the growth factor. Growth factors are a huge area of corporate research, with new sources appearing daily. Plant growth factors were the basis for a product marketed to dermatologists several years ago for office dispensing. The focus has now expanded to animal-derived growth factors either from fibroblast culture media or, the most recent source, from breast milk of nursing cows in the first two weeks after birth.

I expect many more growth factor-based moisturizers will enter the marketplace. I am not sure how well they function, however. Most growth factors are complex, with large-molecular-weight substances that do not readily penetrate the stratum corneum. This makes altering cellular function very difficult.

Q Why am I seeing so many younger patients with dyed hair and the complaint of hair loss?

A The currently popular hair-dying method is to select several different dye shades and dye each lock of hair a different color. So, a brunette individual will have different clumps of hair dyed black, red, copper, light brown and blonde. The hair that is dyed lighter than the original hair color - in this case, the light brown and blonde hairs - undergoes both a bleaching and dying procedure accomplished in one step by hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide weakens the hair shafts so that these hairs preferentially break during the grooming process, leading to the perception of hair loss. The most common cause of hair loss in young females with dyed hair is hair breakage. This can be ascertained by examining the scalp for short hairs without a tapered tip, indicating breakage and not new hair growth.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C., and primary investigator, Dermatology Consulting Services, High Point, N.C. Questions may be submitted via e-mail to zdraelos@northstate.net
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