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Hair Conditioners

Did you know hair conditioners are also anti static?

The Secret of a Hair Conditioner
by Doris Möller


We have great expectations of hair conditioners. When using a hair conditioner we assume that our hair will be as good as new. Is this really possible? Lets have a more scientific look at hair conditioners and find out how effective they really are.

Many people are very concerned about the health of their hair. There really is no need to worry so much because the human hair is a very strong fiber - much stronger than most of us realize. It can take a lot of abuse. Its physical and chemical make-up makes it possible for us to constantly wash, dry, perm, straighten and color it.

However, as hair grows longer and with continual washing, drying and coloring etc. the scales of the cuticle that lie flat to protect the inside of the hair start lifting up. You can see this when hair tangles and is difficult to comb through after a shampoo. When the cuticle rises up to such an extent that the cortex (the layer underneath the cuticle) becomes exposed, then you have what we call "damaged" hair. Besides tangling, damaged hair is characterized by an increase in negative charges which is the reason why it is flyaway and difficult to manage.

When you apply the best conditioner to your hair you expect it to make those protruding cuticles to lie flat and to prevent the hair from being flyaway. Hair conditioners are anti static.

The Secret of a Hair Conditioner

Fifty years ago the crème rinse was invented which made it possible to tame flyaway hair in other words to make it anti static. Today it is called a conditioner. The chemical make-up of this conditioner is such that its positive charges neutralize the negative charges in the hair.

These are called cationic compounds which are charged positively. They are attracted by opposite charges on the hair and neutralize them. The more porous the hair the more intense negative charges build up in the hair. This serves to attract the positively charged cationic compounds. In other words the effect of the conditioner is greatest when the hair is damaged or porous. When the conditioner is applied it attaches to the hair on contact. The positive charged substance combines with the negative charges of the hair. This is known as an electrophyllic attraction.

Now you can see how a hair conditioner can reduce the extent to which hair is static. But is it capable of restoring your hair to such a degree that the cuticle around your hair lies flat again? Not quite. It lubricates the hair making it easy to comb by depositing a fatty substance on the hair.

Some hair conditioners contain hydrolyzed protein. Since hair consists of 97% protein (keratin) it is the only substance that has any positive effect on its structure. The molecules of the protein have to be small enough to be of use to the hair. The protein is also positively and negatively charged and will be attracted by the hair.

In the days when the technology of putting amino acids (protein) in the hair was unknown and cationic compounds were not used on hair, people used lanolin, mayonnaise and hot oil on their hair (actually they are still used today) in the hope of improving the condition of their hair. But we now know that these types of conditioners are totally ineffective.

After you shampoo your hair the effects of the conditioner will have disappeared and you therefore need to apply the conditioner after every shampoo.

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