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Reversing Gray, Blackcurrant Color, Revitalization and More in Hair Care

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According to Mordor Intelligence, the global hair care market was valued at US $85.52 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach $106.57 billion by the end of 2023. One driver for future growth is the increasing professional work culture, where personal grooming and appearance have become primary concerns for employees wanting to maintain a professional outlook. Topics presented in hair care at the latest SCC Annual Meeting reflect innovations to address these hair care concerns, as a look back reminds us.

A Peptide to Reverse Gray Hair

Estelle Loing of IFF/Lucas Meyer Cosmetics looked at aging from the perspective of gray hair. Detailing a method of repigmenting hair using the natural and biological resources of hair could offer a solution for some consumers.

Hair turns gray due to a decrease of melanin in the bulb or via the oxidation of existing melanin. However, low-pigmentation gray hair still contains melanocytes and therefore, its discoloration is reversible; hair with no pigmentation cannot be reversed via the pathway described by Loing.

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To address hair graying, IFF/Lucas Meyer researchers screened biomimetic peptides to see which were effective against melanogenesis and oxidative stress. The researchers found that PTP20 bound to the MC1-R receptor, then increased TRP1 and TRP2 expression in the upper sheath and bulb of the hair.

PTP20 also increases melanosome transfer by 50% and stimulates the transfer of melanin (melanosome) from melanocytes to keratinocytes, according to Loing. The result is a decrease in oxidative stress.

IFF/Lucas Meyer evaluated the peptide in a test formula lotion for its effect on hair pigmentation. After a three-month treatment of Caucasian male volunteers, the variation of white hair density dropped 30% on average.

Green Chemistry Hair Care

Laura Muollo of The Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry discussed the role of responsible science in the development of non-toxic hair color restoration solutions. Muollo noted that, in order for any green chemistry solution to take hold, it must work and be cost-competitive.

She detailed a new initiative, HairPrint (myhairprint.com), which emerged from research into alternatives to traditional color. Researchers at the institute found that hair color could be enhanced via a green polymer that forms bridges between dye and hair to enhance dye deposition, improve color density and prevent washout.

A 2017 patent publication, “Aqueous colorant composition and use thereof,” detailed an aqueous solution of poly(lactic acid) and a colorant, which boosted color update and retention without harsh chemicals. The technology has been applied in HairPrint products like the True Color Restorer for men and women, which contains Mucuna pruriens, a plant that contains the amino acid L-dopa, a precursor of melamine pigment.

HairPrint cautions, “Hairprint Color Restorer works for naturally black, brown and light brown hair only. We do not have a formula for blonde or red hair.”

Muollo added there is also ongoing work in the arena of hair shaping. Traditional products like the Brazilian blowout are harsh and expose consumers to formaldehyde, she said. While the institute had developed a bio-based material that can straighten and coil hair, it is not yet effective enough to compete with conventional products.

Blackcurrant for Hair Coloring Effects

Richard Blackburn of the University of Leeds explained that natural extracts from fruits, vegetables and flowers can provide new sources of ingredients for the beauty industry. He noted that natural sources are ideally drawn from products that are associated with high levels of waste material, including grape, blackcurrant and aronia/chokeberry.

For instance, Blackburn explained that blackcurrant matter from juice processing can be extracted and purified using solid-phase extraction to maximize anthocyanins for semi-permanent hair color and silverizing effects.

Revitalizing Aging Hair

Finally, poorly aging hair is characterized by a loss of strength, thickness, luster, density and an unbalanced cycle, said Giorgio Dell’Acqua of Akott Evolution. A healthy hair cycle is regulated by human follicle dermal papilla cells. Herbal extracts, such as those from mung bean sprouts, may act as a source of active molecules to stimulate the gene transcription of human hair follicle dermal papilla cells (HFDPC) to support hair cycling and vitality.

Sprouts are rich in micronutrients, vitamins, flavonoids and phenolic acids, polyphenols and secondary metabolites, according to Dell’Acqua. In one study, mung bean sprout extracts were incubated with HFDPC for 24 and 72 hr, followed by mRNA analysis.

After 72 hr, the extract stimulated the transcription signaling molecules associated with the maturation of the dermal papilla cells and with the activity of the hair follicle. It also boosted insulin-like growth factor-1 by 142% and bone morphogenetic protein-4 by 67%, compared with a control. At the same time, the structural maintenance chromosome protein-3 jumped 48%, while platelet-derived growth factor subunit-A fell 52% in the sprout extract-treated subjects.

A water-gel-based serum containing 1% of the extract was tested against a placebo. Readings were taken for up to 112 days. Dell’Acqua reported an improvement of the anagen/telogen ratio by more than 38%. A pull test showed that hair was strengthened, though the researchers did not measure thickness. Scalp microcirculation jumped 92% and hair density increased.

This research is detailed in “A Natural Extract from Sprouts to Stimulate Hair Cycling and Vitality” by Dell’Acqua and Letizia Puleo, Ph.D.

Akott Evolution has commercialized the water/glycerine extract of mung beans as Akosky Azuki, which contains a high level of flavonoids, which act as inhibitors of 5 alpha-reductase and counteract the negative properties that DHT has on hair follicles by stimulating positive growth factors and genetic messages, according to the firm. The extract promotes the anagen and telogen phase, according to Akott.

Effective at 1% in formulations, the material reportedly results in a 40% reduction in hair loss through washing and brushing, increases the number of hair follicles during the anagen phase, and boosts hair density within 85 days.