Shine-protecting haircare products smooth cuticle, increase light reflection

June 1, 2011

The dramatic increase in the use of hair coloring, permanent waving and hair straightening has led to the need for haircare products that optimize the appearance of chemically treated hair. One of the new developments is a new category of shine-protecting haircare products.

Key Points

A: The dramatic increase in the use of hair coloring, permanent waving and hair straightening has led to the need for haircare products that optimize the appearance of chemically treated hair. One of the new developments is a new category of shine-protecting haircare products.

Chemically treated hair is dull because disruption of the cuticle is necessary for the chemical alteration. When the cuticle is disrupted, it becomes fragmented and rough, resulting in less light reflection from the hair surface. The new shine-protecting products contain substances that smooth down the cuticle and increase light reflection.

Q: Why is lanolin alcohol found in some hypoallergenic moisturizers?

A: Lanolin is an interesting, but controversial, ingredient with many skin benefits. Outside of petroleum jelly, lanolin is one of the best, most expensive skin moisturizers. It is derived from sheep and closely mimics human sebum, but its importation into the United States was stopped when scrapie was identified.

Lanolin also goes rancid and must be carefully preserved to prevent a noxious odor. There are some patients who are allergic to lanolin, accounting for the inclusion of lanolin on the standard patch test tray.

It should be emphasized that there are several different grades of lanolin with various levels of contamination by dander, hair and other materials. Pure lanolin is much less likely to be allergenic. Even less likely to cause allergy is lanolin alcohol, a derivative of lanolin but chemically distinct. Lanolin-allergic patients are not necessarily allergic to lanolin alcohol. Lanolin alcohol is used in some excellent moisturizer formulations because it is an excellent emollient, leaving the skin smooth and soft. It is hard to replace lanolin alcohol with any other ingredient that possesses such marvelous emollient characteristics. For this reason, it remains popular in skincare products.

Q: Is it necessary to shampoo twice, as recommended on the bottle?

A: Most bottles of shampoo recommend shampooing the hair two times immediately after one another. I find this suggestion quite interesting because it requires the use of twice as much shampoo.

I do not think that shampooing twice is necessary in persons who shampoo daily or work in a clean environment. People who work around automobile grease or dig ditches may require two shampoo steps to remove excessive dirt.

Additionally, persons who use heavy hair waxes or large amounts of leave-in styling products may need to shampoo twice to completely remove the grooming products from the hair. These are special cases. In general, one shampoo step is sufficient.

Q: Will home hair-removal lasers replace professional devices?

A: It is hard to predict the future, but I believe that home hair-removal lasers will decrease the demand for professional laser hair removal, but not replace it. Professional hair-removal lasers can more efficiently treat a large body area, as opposed to home-use devices that have a smaller spot size.

In addition, the home laser devices are not as powerful as the professional units, meaning that regrowth may be more of a problem. Home devices may need to be used frequently to prevent regrowth.

Remember that the Food and Drug Administration definition of permanent is inhibition of hair regrowth longer than one hair cycle. This would not meet most consumers' definition of permanent, but this is all that needs to be achieved by a hair-removal device.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a Dermatology Times editorial adviser and consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. Questions may be submitted via e-mail to zdraelos@northstate.net
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