Innovations in Hair Styling Technology

February 16, 2009 | Contact Author | By: Randy Schueller and Perry Romanowski, Alberto-Culver
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Keywords: VOCs | aerosol hair spray | pomades | hair dressing | packaging | solvents | polymers

Abstract: The regulatory climate for cosmetic products is becoming more difficult for formulators. Here, the authors describe how new rules have inspired cosmetic chemists to use a variety of strategies and partner with raw material suppliers and packaging houses in order to provide consumers with what they want.

In previous articles we reviewed the basic technologies behind the primary styling product forms including aerosols, pumps and gels. This article reviews how changes in technology and regulatory pressures have “inspired” innovation. In order to understand how and why chemists are innovating to accommodate regulations presently, we need to start by looking at where it all began.

For almost as long as there have been cosmetic chemists, there have existed regulatory agencies to control their work. The incursion of regulatory requirements has forced changes in hair styling products more than in any other type of hair product.

Since their introduction in the 1940s, hair sprays led the popularization of modern styling products. The first sprays were pump-type systems, but public demand for a better product prompted the development of the aerosol hair spray. The aerosol spray was based on Goodhue and Sullivan’s patent of low-pressure propellants (fluorocarbon 12) and Abplanalp’s patented valve design.

The first aerosol hair spray was introduced to the public in 1949 in Chicago by the Global Liqinet Corporation, and created a multi-million dollar business. These early formulas used shellac as the fi xative polymer but shellac exhibited several major drawbacks – such as being difficult to wash out of hair – that led to the development of synthetic polymers with properties that could be better controlled.