December 28, 2011

Suave Surfactants: Maintaining the Integrity of Your Shampoo

There is nothing quite like awakening to the screams of a woman (or man, for that matter) bewailing the efficacy of their shampoo. “I trusted you!” they moan, “you promised me everything, for better or for worse, wash, rinse, and repeat...”

Storming into the hairdresser's in a fury, however, is not the best approach to take. They will listen professionally to the dilemma, calm irascible nerves with a relaxing shampoo, explain that the product performs exceptionally for the price, offer a refund, and leave one feeling rather embarrassed.

To avoid this situation, take the time to learn the factors that could decrease the power of the perfect shampoo.

Hard water contains dissolved ions which can interfere with the surfactants in shampoo. (Trüeb, 2007) Much like the properties observed in phosphobilipid membranes, each end of the shampoo molecule has a slight charge. One end is lipophilic, attracting oil and debris in the hair, and the other hydrophilic, attracting water to rinse away. (Beatty, 2002) The presence of cations or anions in rinsewater can interfere with either end of the molecule, often leaving the user with residue in their hair. The installation of a water softener will convert hard water to soft, removing trace ions and restoring that silky shine. (Trüeb, 2007)

Shampoos are often formulated at a pH mimicking that of hair and skin, approximately 4.5-6.5. (Beatty, 2002) Ideally, water has a neutral pH of 7. Contaminants, dissolved substances, and phenomena such as acid rain can alter the pH of water. While the shampoo formulation anticipates water neutrality, slightly more acidic or basic water can strip the acid mantle, which may lead to oil overproduction. This can result in an oily scalp and dry, frizzy hair. (Beatty, 2002) Monitoring of home water pH and investment in water filtration equipment can alleviate these issues.

Bacterial contamination has become less of an issue due to modern preservatives. It may still occur in hair products in rare cases, or in products derived directly from organic ingredients. (Olsen, 1967) Contrary to popular belief, the bathroom is not the most hygenic place to store hygiene products. Bacterial cultures can develop in open products or in those exposed to contaminants. Ingredient efficacy can decrease with microorganic growth, and also through exposure to extreme temperatures or sunlight. (Olsen, 1967) As with any chemical, store shampoo in a closed and labelled container in a dark cool area. If a change is noticed in the product, such as odour or texture, dispose of it no matter how expensive it was. Although it is rare for degraded shampoo to cause illness, an important ingredient rendered ineffective may alter the entire integrity of the product.

As observed in [a class research project], water quality and pH can directly affect one's health and well being. While shampoo efficacy is hardly as crucial a substantiate to life as avoiding toxin ingestion, keeping one's hair strong and supple creates a peace of mind.

Works Cited

Beatty, D., 2002. Milady's Standard Cosmetology. , September 9, 2002.

Olsen, S.W.,M.S., 1967. The Application of Microbiology to Cosmetic Testing. Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, March 4, 1967, no. 18, pp. 191-191-198.

Trüeb, R.M., 2007. Shampoos: Ingredients, Efficacy and Adverse Effects. Journal of the German Society of Dermatology, May 2007, vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 356-356-365.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

much better text color!