Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Beauty Q & A - The Truth About Rebuilding Hair

We've moved!! Check out this post on the new Beauty Brains website.

The Glitterati asks...
What is the deal with "restructuring" treatments for hair? I mean, I get that the vague concept is to "restore proteins" to your hair or some gobbledy-gook, but isn't hair essentially dead? Can a restructuring treatment really force-feed amino acids or whatever into our manes?

And The Left Brain responds...
By the tone of your question, a certain level of skepticism on your part is evident. And it’s a good thing because the idea of being able to slather on a hair restructuring treatment to actually re-form hair is ridiculous. True, hair is made of amino acids and putting them on hair may provide some minor benefit. But it won’t restructure, restore or rebuild the hair.

This would be a bit like trying to repair a weather-worn Kate Spade bag by pouring a basket of thread and fabric on it. Sure, the stylish sack is made of thread and fabric but you can’t just randomly put them on and expect to get a new purse.

It’s the same way with hair and amino acids. To really restructure the hair, the amino acids would have to be chemically arranged in a specific way. This arrangement can only be done in the hair follicle when the hair is growing. After that, nothing can be done except coat the hair with a good conditioner that mitigates some of the signs of damage.

So, what are these restructuring treatments? In essence, they are just glorified rinse-out conditioners. Just take a look at the ingredients.

Here is Tricomin Restructuring Conditioner

Purified Water, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Stearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Triamino Copper Nutritional Complex (see product information for ingredients), Hydroxyethylcellulose, Panthenol, Aloe Vera Gel, Soydimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Peppermint Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cholecalciferol, Retinyl Palmitate, Vegetable Oil, FD&C Blue 1, D&C Red 33

The rules of cosmetic labeling require that ingredients are listed in order of concentration above 1%. In general, the more of an ingredient in the formula, the more impact it has on the product. The ingredients near the end of the list are just put in there to make a nice marketing story or are color, fragrance or preservatives. In the Tricomin formula, some of the main “working” ingredients are Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, and Dimethicone.

But then take a look at a “regular” rinse-out conditioner. Say Pantene Pro-V Conditioner, Smooth and Sleek

Water, Stearyl Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Glutamic Acid, Dimethicone, Benzyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, EDTA, Panthenol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

Notice any similarities?? The main working ingredients here are Stearyl Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, and Dimethicone.

Both of these are good conditioners. But the Restructuring Conditioner will not rebuild your hair any better than a standard rinse-out formula. And it certainly won't rebuild your hair better than thread and fabric would rebuild a worn out Kate Spade.