A Hairy Situation

Ricki Lake’s return to the spotlight as a cast member on Dancing With the Stars recently motivated me to rent John Waters’ 1988 film Hairspray, which starred Lake as Tracy Turnblad, a teenager who auditions for a popular dance show. Turnblad’s defiant need to tease her hair against her mother’s wishes got me thinking about how hairstyles and hair technology have evolved in the past four decades.

In the 1960s, the decade in which the film is set, bouffants and beehives abounded, which I am told* required an immense amount of teasing, product and patience. Future decades saw hairstyles such as the feathered flip, the wave (my personal favorite), the jheri curl, the crimpy perm, the mohawk, the “Rachel,” dreadlocks and more. Each hairstyle required its own technique and styling technology, and formulators have adapted to meet these needs.

This issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine reviews the latest in hair care technology. Using micro- and nano-sized technologies to improve hairstyling is covered by R Lochhead, K McLeod, W Byrd and S Kirkland. Also, a “Hair Care Formulary” is provided that provides the latest styling, shampoo, conditioner and treatment formulations, as submitted by suppliers into the Cosmetic Bench Reference.

It can be argued that regardless of popular hairstyles, the consumer has always desired healthy-looking hair (although you would not have guessed it in the ’80s), with healthy-looking hair being identified by a vibrant color, a glossy shine, a smooth appearance and a lively bounce. To that end, M Wright and M Szerszen discuss their latest research on mending split ends with a polyelectrolyte complex.

Both parabens and silicones are important ingredients in hair care products; however, their safety has recently been questioned by various nonprofits. J Lambert, PhD, supports the safety of silicone, while E Jungman, C Laugel and A Baillet-Guffroy support the safety of parabens.

Since the 1960s, hair care products have evolved from simple to complex and from few to many. Today’s consumers can not only find a product that suits a desired need, but they can also choose the product form that fills that need. The current options are endless, making future hair care innovation possibly a hairy situation.

*Disclaimer: I entered the world in 1981; therefore, a portion of this hair history synopsis is based on hearsay and not on actual life experiences.

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