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Industry Insight: Pollution, Microbiome and Consumer Behavior in Hair Research

Contact Author Rachel Grabenhofer with Gill Westgate, Ph.D., University of Bradford, UK; and Marta Bertolini, Ph.D., Monasterium Laboratory, Skin and Hair Research Solutions
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Returning to Cosmetics & Toiletries are Gill Westgate (GW), Ph.D., of the University of Bradford and Marta Bertolini (MB), Ph.D., of Monasterium Laboratory, Skin and Hair Research Solutions, in a continuation of our June 2019 discussion on insights from the latest World Congress on Hair Research.

Presented below is an excerpt adapted from Part II in our podcast series on new directions in hair research. Turn to Page 18 of the February 2020 digital magazine for additional content, including their views on missed opportunities for product developers, technologies enabling new discoveries and future concepts for the hair care market. Or, listen to Part III of our podcast series.

C&T: How has hair research changed? Does it align with consumer drivers?


MB: Besides the interests of principal investigators (PI), some work has moved forward driven by consumer demands and needs. Pollutants are one example. Consumers want to know how to protect their hair from environmental stress. In fact, in one study, we showed that caffeine can act as a cosmeceutical to prevent and protect against UV radiation-mediated damage in the hair follicles. Basically, it prevents the development of the regression phase in the hair growth cycle and subsequent apoptosis or cell death in the hair follicle. So, this work was certainly something driven by consumer needs rather than PI interest.

Another area is the microbiome, which I think is really an area of interest driven by the consumer. Beyond dandruff, which we know is really due to microbiome dysbiosis, now it’s about understanding where the microbiome is in the hair follicle, as opposed to on the scalp surface; the different microbiota in the hair; how the hair microbiome is composed; and how this changes in androgenic alopecia or other hair loss disorders.


GW: I thought it was interesting that the talks on hair cosmetics were all given by dermatologists. My conclusion is that dermatologists are now understanding more about the consumer needs of hair, and are better able to understand what consumers might do to the hair and how that might impact things like the management of hair disorders.

One example was that consumers who have patchy hair might use aggressive back-combing to make the hair sit over the area of hair loss. I think that might happen with many people with thinning hair ... including a very famous person in America with a very big comb-over ... but what the presenter was able to say to clients and attendees at the conference was that these practices really damage the hair. They also know about what heat and the use of chemicals can do, and understand that consumers who are struggling to manage a style or cover hair loss and are using these approaches are actually not doing themselves any favors.

Read more from this interview in the February 2020 digital magazine...

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