• scissors
    January 22nd, 2011ImogenUncategorized

    Myself as a nipper. That hair is in need of some silicone!

    My family loves potato omelette. Recently, leftovers of said omelette were left in the dish it was cooked in for several days and the baked-on grease became very difficult to remove. After it had been soaking for a day with no improvements and we were driving home with Brillo pads I had a brainwave! It went thus: Washing up liquid cleans (in part) by breaking down fats, but the problem here seemed to be the stubborn bits of egg, which are protein. Therefore surely we needed an enzyme which could digest the protein, such as biological washing powder! Unfortunately, it appeared the protein was not the problem so my genius idea was not as useful as I had hoped.

    However, it got me thinking about how we clean other things. In particular; 2-in-1 hair products. I don’t use them a lot, personally, because I don’t want to get shampoo on the long bits of my hair (which are dry already) nor conditioner on my roots (not that dry). But am I being naïve in assuming this will happen? Are 2-in-1s, as I had assumed, just the two individual concoctions mixed together? Well, as I discovered from this very interesting article on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s site, the 2-in-1 is a carefully engineered product in its own right.

    The purpose of shampoo is primarily to remove grease and dirt from hair. However, conditioner adds oils to the hair in order to leave it glossy and smooth. So the question is, how can these two co-exist in the same bottle? One solution that scientists have come up with is to use shampoo and conditioner molecules which repel each other. As the product is rinsed out and mixes with water, the conditioner molecules (which have been coated in a “crystalline matrix” and suspended in the shampoo) are precipitated out since they are not water-soluble. Think of this as like the evaporation of sea water. Salt is soluble in water but not in air, so when the water becomes water vapour suspended in the air, the salt is left behind as little crystals. So the shampoo is washed away, leaving the conditioner to do its work.

    This is all news to me. I thought you were meant to leave conditioner on for a few minutes to get the full effect but this obviously doesn’t translate to 2-in-1s. As to my conditioner-on-hair-roots no-no, this should not be a problem with the combined products, since the conditioner targets dry or damaged regions of your hair. Another interesting point in the article is the balance between mildness and lather-osity. The more lather produced, the more grease the shampoo is taking from your hair. The dirt is then suspended in the lather to prevent it being re-deposited in the hair. However, some shampoos such as those formulated for babies, need to be milder and so produce less lather.

    On an interesting final note, an article in a similar vein on the Beauty Brains blog (“Real Scientists Answer Your Beauty Questions”) tells us that since dimethicone (the silicone bit) is nearly always present in products which condition your hair, even if you don’t realise it. This means that if you only want your shampoo to remove oils from your hair, check the ingredients first! It’s more common to find it in shampoo than you think. Now before you head off to check the ingredients of everything in your bathroom, check out the Electron Microscope photos of damaged hair on Procter and Gamble’s site. The most striking piece of information comes from their assurance that “backcombing is one of the most damaging physical treatments that can be inflicted on hair.” This, along with photographic evidence is definitely going to make me respect my tresses a bit more. Silicone is my saviour!