Consumers have become increasingly aware of hair damage caused by chemical processes, heat styling and environmental factors. In addition to healthy, shiny, smooth and silky hair, both men and women look for protection against split ends and breakage, along with greater strength and resilience.
Many women believe they have damaged hair, and products that make hair-strengthening claims have caught the attention of these consumers. Silicones hold promise for providing hair-strengthening benefits, especially in products designed for damaged or ethnic hair.
A New Role for Silicones
A variety of silicone materials are recognized for their sensory and functional benefits in hair care products. Initially incorporated into formulations for their conditioning properties, silicones also provide shine, aid color retention and protect against heat damage from curling irons and blow dryers.
In the study described in this article, a method was developed to determine whether silicones could also provide strengthening properties to hair, helping to counteract potentially damaging treatments. In combination with the other multifunctional properties of silicones, hair strengthening would offer additional consumer benefits from individual products.
The hair care industry has responded to these market needs, and a number of commercially available products incorporate organic ingredients traditionally used to strengthen or repair hair. These typically include various wheat, soy or hydrolyzed vegetable proteins. Another conventional ingredient, panthenol, is claimed to provide hair strengthening as well as some degree of conditioning.