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This is an abridged version of an article published in the April 2011 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine.
- The trend in frizz control products has been to create softer, less depositing products so the hair feels as natural as possible.
- Hair care products that control or repair frizz must eliminate lifting of the cuticle, minimize loss of internal lipids and improve hair tensile strength.
- Frizzy hair can temporarily be controlled with the daily use of a good conditioner, but challenges such as controlling the amount of deposited conditioner is difficult, and can be hindered by consumer application techniques.
Frizz control hair care has been around for almost 20 years. Frizzy hair is a major issue for women with curly hair, and particularly for curly hair that has been chemically or mechanically treated. These consumers spend time each day adjusting and controlling the style of their hair, specifically to control the onset of frizz in high humidity environments. To address this need, new technologies and products are consistently being introduced.
Moisture has a significant impact on hair frizz because water vapor in the air can be transported inside the cortex of the hair shaft, modifying the temporary hydrogen bonds created by hair proteins during styling. These proteins are based on four, twisted long chain amino acids running lengthwise down the shaft.
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The chemical bonds between the protein chains provide the cohesion that establishes the natural form of the hair.
Water/humidity/dampness can disrupt this cohesion, but drying allows for the reformation of the keratin chains, which can be temporarily altered as part of the styling process and during hair drying. Other contributing factors include damage to hair strands due to rough brushing (i.e., the lack of a good conditioning agent for wet and dry combing); chemical treatments such as perming, bleaching and coloring; UV exposure; and heat styling. All of these lead to a damaged cuticle and split ends, potentially increasing porosity and swelling of the hair cuticle and creating another entry point for style-disrupting moisture. Dry hair that becomes statically charged due to hair’s negative charge is a secondary contributor to frizz. This charge results in the repulsion of hair’s protein keratin strands—hard, fibrous proteins comprised of polypeptide chains—when shampooed with negatively charged depositing ingredients.1 As hair becomes coarse and dull from cuticle damage, it loses its tensile strength in the cortex.
Components for Frizz Repair
Hair care products that control or repair frizz must eliminate lifting of the cuticle, minimize loss of internal lipids and improve hair tensile strength. Conventional methods utilize a physical coating to smooth the cuticle, modulate moisture content in the cortex, and improve both wet and dry combing. The most widely used smoothing ingredients are silicone fluids.
Frizzy hair can temporarily be controlled with the daily use of a good conditioner. It does not matter whether the conditioner is deposited from a 2-in-1 shampoo, a rinse-off conditioner or a leave-on conditioning product so long as a sufficient quantity is deposited to reduce the degree of friction on hair during wet and dry combing. Controlling the amount of deposited conditioner is difficult, as it can be hindered by consumer application techniques, degree of damage to hair, and so on; thus it is important for consumers to adjust the amount or type of conditioner they apply to their hair to meet their individual conditioning needs. One popular frizz control approach is to apply an anhydrous serum, or a water-and-silicone emulsion, that deposits a high molecular weight silicone gum. This approach fills the gaps where humidity can enter the cuticle to smooth it.
Although this approach is effective, excessive deposition can result, leaving a greasy, heavy feel on hair that could be perceived as “dirty.” Since siloxanes are water-insoluble, they are also difficult to remove, and can build up after continued applications.
Challenges & Trends
Defining the elements to make a product control hair frizz is difficult. For the most part, hair damage is not repaired because hair is dead when it leaves the scalp. Therefore, consumers can only control frizz by styling it and making it more manageable. The trend in frizz control products has been to create softer, less depositing products so the hair feels as natural as possible, as well as to incorporate anti-frizz control into product forms other than the traditional serum such as shampoos, conditioners and styling gels.
When creating a frizz control product, it is best to avoid ingredients that will leave the hair sticky or impart a “dirty” feeling coating that result in unnatural shine/gloss, or that incorporate hydroscopic components, e.g., glycerin. If hair feels dirty or greasy, consumers will wash it more frequently, which consumers associate with increased frizz—and the demand is for hair that is as natural looking as possible.
Looking long-term at this product category, key ingredients to consider are siloxane elastomers that provide a hydrophobic film-forming cuticle smoothing coating. Also, there is a possibility to envision a growing segment developed around more flexible polyurethanes, as long as the film is light and not greasy feeling.
- Morphological and Macromolecular Structure, Ch 1 in Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, CR Robbins, Springer-Verlag, New York, 4th ed (2002) pp 1–4
Eric Abrutyn is an active member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, an advisory board member for C&T magazine, and chairman of the Personal Care Products Council’s International Nomenclature (INCI) Committee. Recently retired from Kao Brands, Abrutyn founded TPC2 Advisors Ltd., Inc., a personal care consulting business. Abrutyn has more than 35 years of experience in the raw material supplier and skin and hair care manufacturer aspects of personal care.