SeneGence recently dropped a new hair care line – HairCovery!
Then the army of distributors started asking questions. A lot of questions. The first about red clover extract. For more information read: The role of phytoestrogens found in red clover (Trifolium pratense) extract.
The second, requesting a product comparison of HairCovery to Monat. In addition to our typical ingredient reviews, I compared these products on YouTube based on ingredient mode of action.
Then the questions kept coming. Questions about detox, natural hair care & ingredient function… to name a few.
The following is my scientific opinion, based on lots of reading. It may not agree 100% with what your best friend/hair dresser says, but based on what I have seen there doesn’t seem to be in full agreement regarding this topic among professionals… Now on to the 30k foot overview of what may or may not cause hair to “detox“.
Articles that refer to hair detox always mention sulfates. What do we know about sulfates? Sulfates are an effective, cheap & easy way to clean your hair. Also responsible for the suds we associate with a shampoo they found in face wash & household cleaners. The good? By lowering the surface tension of skin/hair/counter they make it easier for oil & dirt to mix with water & wash away. The bad? They also wash away the good oils & are capable of penetrating the hair causing frizz & other damage.
The three most commonly used sulfate compounds within the beauty industry are sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. (You’ll find these in pretty much any cosmetic that foams, from facial cleanser to toothpaste.) Each type of sulfate is different in intensity, but all can be irritating to your skin or hair. The general rule of thumb is as follows: the “-eth” versions (laureth sulfate) are milder than the “-yl” version and the ammonium version is milder than the sodium version.
Why are they of concern? Sulfates are taken up by the hair. Effect increases with colored or damaged hair. But does your hair shaft detox when stop using sulfate shampoo? Let’s just say that your scalp will probably experience some changes. Its generally accepted that sulfates strip the hair of beneficial oils. These oils, called sebum are produced by the sebum glands. Sebum is responsible for keeping hair shiny & soft. Sebum production is not consistent across individuals. We all produce different amounts at different times. Sebum is involved in development of epidermal structure, carrying anti-oxidants to the skin surface, and is the primary food source for the pathogen responsible for dandruff. It goes to follow if you stop using harsh cleansers that strip beneficial oils from the scalp there will be an adjustment phase. Is detox the right term? Maybe. Maybe not.
Surfactants used in HairCovery are all synthetic fatty acid amide containing a long hydrocarbon chain at one end and a polar group at the other (the same general form of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)).
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine– considered to be less irritating that purely ionic surfactants. Largest concern is contamination by skin sensitizing materials.
- Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate- molecularly similar to sodium Lauryl sulfate
- Lauryl Glucoside- Considered to be less irritating than other surfactants
There are no sulfates in HairCovery. Molecular differences characterizing the 3 surfactants listed above affect the pH of these chemicals and how they behave in solution making them a less irritating choice than SLS.
This post has been brought to you by Exclussive: Nerdy for my SeneSisters.
Structure and function of the hair
- cuticle -the outer most layer made up of hard over lapping cells comprised on keratin (the same stuff your nails are made of). The cortex (similar in function to the stratum corneum) protects the inner layers of hair and controls moisture loss.
- cortex -the middle layer comprised of proteins responsible for texture and color.
- medulla -the inner most layer sometimes absent from finer/lighter hair, the exact function of the medulla is not well understood.
Applying chemicals, sulfates included, and heat to your hair lifts the cuticle or outer layer of keratin. Keratin is a sulpher-rich protein characterized by strong disulphide bonds that hold the protein strands together. Obviously, once hair is totally stripped of cuticle, diffusion of soluble protein from the cortex becomes the dominant contributor to protein loss. Under friction (think rubbing when shampooing) hair treated with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) experienced protein loss 7x greater than water alone. Protein is essential for healthy hair. Severe protein deficiencies in your diet can affect hair growth. Topical protein treatments can help strengthen the hair shaft by coating it. But that is only temporary and you still need to consume enough protein.
#hottake There is not strong scientific support for a detox phase resulting from eliminating sulfates from a hair care routine. It is possible gentle surfactants leave more beneficial oils behind. However, I think individual variations in sebum production could easily be an overriding factor. Literature does support the elimination of sulfates from your hair care routine to help prevent protein loss contributing to split ends and damaged hair.