Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cosmetics And Marketing

This year alone has seen its fair share of hard times for people. We all need basic cosmetics for hygiene and others sometimes just to feel good, or to enhance our appearance.

I do not understand how incredibly expensive shampoos stay on the market or those marketed primarily for their fragrance. I do understand the marketing strategies for both. One appeals to the false concept some consumers believe regarding cosmetics, that "You get what you pay for." The other appeals to the consumer who thinks all such products are basically the same and fragrance can be very appealing and mean freshness and more. Great marketing to me is humourous, informative but not outrageously so and showcases a product well.

Price nor fragrance determines cosmetic product value or performance. Formulation is the key factor.

The truth is that if marketing really reflected what many cosmetic products were capable of doing, no one would buy them. It is not that the products are bad. It is because other, less expensive products can work just as well and some can work much better.

Updated November 18, 2012
In the United States, the FDA is paying attention and is taking strong actions in response to improper cosmetic marketing claims. A number of claims focus on hair restoration and growth. That means the product falls under the classification of a drug and requires stringent approval under drug regulations and for statements made on labelling, paper and online. Canada has marketing regulations and claims restrictions too, as do other countries. From emails on the topic I receive, the problem is worldwide these days. Government regulations, marketing restrictions and the recent actions taken, reveal the increasing need to protect consumers from such claims. Here is an article on cosmetic marketing problems from within the cosmetic industry.

I admire the entrepreneurial spirit. I am appalled by poorly made, badly or not at all preserved products sold online and elsewhere, just to make a quick dollar at the expense in both cases, of the consumer. Products need to be safe and well made, especially with cosmetics, which many people take for granted are so, if they appear to contain more natural ingredients than otherwise. Not true. It depends on what natural ingredients are used and what they actually contribute to a formulation, other than marketing appeal.

It is tough surviving in poor economic times, while at the same time facing efforts by cosmetic companies to "seduce" consumers to spend hard earned money on products, that at best may do the job but not that well. This is an article from 2009. I got an empathetic chuckle reading about the dermatologist who purchased that expensive cream, only to discover that it did not live up to its marketing claims for him.

While I have never spent that amount of money on a cosmetic and will not, I remember in my early teens waiting "breathlessly" for a hair texturizing or styling cream, I had seen marketed on television and in magazines, become available to me. When my local pharmacy finally got it in stock and I bought it with excited anticipation, the pharmacist warned me that it was not a revolutionary product. He was right! In fact, it added nothing of note to the appearance of my hair.

I prefer to read labels and research ingredients before buying cosmetic products these days and scour reviews, reading the negative ones first, to see what kinds of problems people have had, if any. The latest marketing strategy for many kinds of products, involves paying people for positive and negative reviews posted on forums and other websites. Payment can be made in the form of free goods and discounts, or money. While that may or may not be legitimate, I am appalled by it too. I have seen online job listings for posting positive reviews, when I researched the topic.

I like to understand how an ingredient works and see if it can "play outside the box" or be used differently or on its own. It may if it is one that has a good, sound, reputable history. However, first and foremost to me is it safe to use alternative ways? Then are there adverse effects if it is used in certain proportions, or from methods of use? Finally is it economical and easily available to purchase?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Using Oil Or Conditioner As A Pre-Wash Treatment

Traditionally in some cultures, vegetable oil was used as a pre-wash treatment to offset the harshness of the plants used to wash the hair. Herbal washing can be great but it can remove too much natural sebum. Why? The saponins in plants are natural detergents. They remove natural sebum very well but vegetable oils not as easily. When this was discovered long ago, a tradition was born.

Traditions tend to prevail and be applied today, although the reasons for them may be less understood or forgotten. Today, there are many choices of shampoos and other cleansing methods like conditioner only washing, or a return in some cases, to using soap to wash hair. With the variations in strengths of the different cleansers, a pre-wash treatment with oil, or these days with some conditioning treatments is not necessary.

If conditioning treatments or conditioners are used for that purpose, the build-up they cause, in addition to other product build-up can create problems, like tangling and dryness, causing split ends. Such build-up needs to be removed sooner than later. The same thing applies to using drying oils. Anything you apply to hair, shampoo, oil, conditioner, styling aids and many botanicals used on their own or in products has the potential to cause problematic build-up.

Hair care does not need to be the ongoing exercise in frustration that it can become.

You need a good shampoo or other cleanser that is not too strong or heavy on the hair. If you use most of what is available these days, it will cause build-up too. All conditioners and styling aids cause build-up on hair, including those that are botanically based. That simply means for most people, that clarifying needs to be added to their hair care routine. Clarifying should not be done too frequently because doing so can be harsh and drying for hair. If your hair is not over washed or overloaded with product after each wash, clarifying can be needed every so often, not often.

Using products differently can make a difference too. I have written here about cosmetic mineral oil, which used on its own has many benefits. It can replace other products like conditioners, styling aids and treatments. It usually does not need reapplication between hair washes, washes out of hair easily not creating build-up and it can do even more for hair and skin.

There is much to gain with simplified hair care. You also save money, by not buying extra products you do not need that can cause hair problems.

See Also

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oils, Shampoos, Hair Protein Loss And Hair Dye Colour Fade

When hair is excessively swelled with water during washing, the cuticles are raised to the point of being more prone to tangling and being damaged, by being chipped and eroded when they are most vulnerable, while wet, resulting in hair protein loss. Coconut oil can help prevent that from happening, when used certain ways.

The lauric acid in coconut oil can penetrate hair to the cortex level of well clarified hair and bond to keratin there, during washing with shampoo after a pre-wash oil treatment, or when coconut oil is added to shampoo. The rest of the fatty acids in coconut oil can help prevent excess water from entering the hair shaft, reducing hair swelling. The shampoo used needs to be one that does not cause build-up and allows the lauric acid to penetrate the hair.

However, enough of any oil used in shampoo, or on the hair when it is washed, can help prevent too much water from entering the hair shaft and reduce hair swelling too. The prevention of hair protein loss by coconut oil was defined by lauric acid hair penetration to the cortex level, in research. Note: Most fractionated coconut oils contain no or almost no lauric acid. They are not suitable to be used for the prevention of protein loss.

Conventional shampoos for colour-treated hair often have added silicone emulsions or added oils to help prevent excess water from entering the hair shaft. Why? Hair colour fade is caused to the largest extent by too much water entering the hair shaft and washing away added hair colour molecules deposited there, not by shampoos in general or oils stripping hair colour. Oil used on its own as a grooming aid or on its own as a treatment is not known to lighten hair colour.

If oil is used as a treatment and washed out with a strong shampoo and there is resulting dryness, more water can enter the hair shaft. If a strong shampoo is used on its own, it can dry out the hair and that allows more water to enter the hair shaft too. Water being the biggest cause of hair dye colour fade has been stated by P&G for years.

As much as oil shampoo with coconut oil can be a great hair option, the fact remains that coconut oil or any vegetable oil or serum cannot moisturize hair as well for as long as mineral oil is able to do. Silicones are often much harder to remove than mineral oil and can require a sulfate or clarifying shampoo to do so. They cannot moisturize hair as well, or for as long as mineral oil is able to do.

Cosmetic mineral oil used on hair can help prevent too much water entering and excessively swelling hair during washing, reducing tangling and hair damage. It can do so without making the hair greasy, being difficult to remove by shampoo or conditioner only, complicated to apply, or requiring a specific type of shampoo to be used. When hair does not have too much water in it, it dries faster than usual because there is less extra water in it to evaporate.

While mineral oil is best used over not too much product or residue, the hair does not need to be clarified first, unless it is necessary for a better look, behaviour and feel. Small drops of mineral oil, evenly distributed throughout the hair are all that is needed. Mineral oil can replace conditioner and other products.

To help prevent hair dye colour fade and help moisturize or help keep hair moisturized, cosmetic mineral oil use is an easy option. Use it as a moisturizer on damp to wet hair, or on dry hair that has a good moisture level. It has excellent slip or detangling properties. Mineral oil can reduce or elimiinate tangles during and after hair washing, helping to prevent protein loss two ways and it can do so better than other oils, or silicones.

Mineral oil cannot chelate iron and copper like coconut and argan oils can, to help prevent damage from hair dye that contains peroxide, or hair damage from peroxide or bleach. Mineral oil needs to be washed out of the hair before using coconut and argan oils as a pre-treatment for those applications, to allow the oils to saturate hair most efficiently.

Cosmetic or USP/BP mineral oil can do far more for hair than other oils or silicones are able to but not quite everything, with regard to conventional hair colouring and lightening. It can be used to help prevent hair dye colour fade.

See Also

Thursday, November 1, 2012

USP/BP Mineral Oil And UV Hair Damage

I wrote about UV protection for skin and hair here. I have not changed my mind that the best protection for both is to use a good product with a high enough SPF, which is usually about 30. That is much more difficult to do for hair. While sun or UV filters are used in hair care products and can help protect hair, the best protection for hair is still covering it, with a tight weave, or SPF treated: hat, scarf, or umbrella.

What I did not expect to read is this research study, which shows that mineral oil applied to hair may actually reduce UV hair damage.

This research supports a report from a friend of mine here, where mineral oil, in her case mineral oil baby oil, helped protect her hair from sun damage. At the time I could not reply with scientific literature to back that up.

The more I research cosmetic mineral oil and more possible uses of it for hair, the more I am pleasantly surprised to find positive, reputable, scientific research, that tells me it may have benefits that are not widely known.

Added in response to an email inquiry:
While in the study, they soaked hair in mineral oil, that is not what is being suggested for its use to reduce hair UV damage. My friend had mineral oil drops in her hair and not many of them. The research study says,
"... the tryptophan decomposition rate was found to be substantially slower in mineral oil-treated hair, compared to water-treated control. These data suggest that hair care formulations containing non-chromophoric material may also reduce photodamage. ... we show that conventional UVB sunscreens in hair care formulations can provide photoprotection. ... our data suggest that non-chromophoric compounds, such as mineral oil, also reduce hair photodamage."

Added in response to another email inquiry:
Your hair is drying faster than usual and you have less tangles with using mineral oil baby oil instead of conditioner because there is enough oil on your hair during shampooing, to prevent excess water from entering your hair and swelling it too much. Less excess water entering the hair shaft = less hair drying time. The baby oil is also helping to prevent tangles while you wash your hair. Silicone is added to shampoo for the same reason, extra slip.

It does not take too much baby oil to do all of that as your hair is not greasy and you have not had problems with build-up or residue, so your shampoo is removing the baby oil sufficiently each wash. If you do use too much baby oil or not wash it out well enough one wash, your regular shampoo should take care of the excess, the next time you wash your hair.

When you then apply the baby oil after washing, its slip or detangling properties help prevent friction and hair abrasion. Hair abrasion causes hair damage as cuticles get chipped and eroded, when hair is tangled and stressed. 

Html cached version of the research study pdf linked in the above text
See Also