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New Hope for Hair

Contact Author Rachel L. Grabenhofer, Cosmetics & Toiletries
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Remember the 1980s, and what people did to hair? In 1984, mine started as a mullet. The following year, I had it cut short and permed (by my mom) for the first time. The result? Popcorn head. From there, heat styling began: an 1,875-watt hair dryer, 1/2-in curling iron and ultra hold hair spray combined to make hair stand on end and span like wings. Mousse and gels aided the transition, and perm after perm pumped up the volume. All of this, of course, required the right care products to strip, condition and protect hair from the next round of assault.

Now that the VOCs have settled, along with the styles, there’s new hope for hair, thanks to efforts by the industry. Proteomics, for example, are emerging as a means to assess damage in hair. The mechanics of hair movement have gained attention, as have non-formaldehyde straightening techniques. In this issue, Huang et al. present a new approach to measure deposition on hair by collecting and analyzing rinse water. Evans et al. explore the ability of glycolic acid to penetrate hair and change its internal properties, and Georgalas considers natural approaches to hair styling.

While the damage from the 80s is done and the voluminous hairstyle is long gone, it’s not forgotten. I’ve since made amends with my hair, although the current change in season brings with it the temptation for a new color . . . and need for supporting care products. Thank you, hair care R&D—but also, from this experimental consumer, you’re welcome.

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