Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hygral Fatigue: A Hair Care Issue?

Is hygral fatique a common hair care issue? Not for most people from what I have read and know. It is not an issue cosmetic chemists write about as such. I searched and came up with nothing on that as a topic, nor was it a specific issue when I worked in the cosmetic industry. Hygral fatigue is said to result from the constant swelling and de-swelling of hair that has too much water in it.

Too much water having access to hair can remove hair dye molecules, causing fading and tangling hair damage. A simple remedy for that can be switching to a gentle shampoo for colour-treated hair, which contains extra conditioning ingredients.

Hair can swell and become "poofy" when there is too much water vapour in it but that is not the same thing, going by the research study on hygral fatigue. The remedy would be the same though, helping to keep too much water in either form from accessing your hair, while your hair is lubricated, to help stop abrasion and keep needed water in your hair from evaporating. Excess water or moisture evaporates.

You can certainly find hygral fatigue written about on the Internet, in blogs like I am doing and have done and articles, all referring to that same study, that no doubt has increased coconut oil sales and more recently, pre-wash treatments. If you swim frequently, there are other considerations, like chlorine and salt water hair damage that can allow more water to enter your hair. Salt water swimming pools do contain chlorine. The links still work in that post.

Hygral fatique appears to have been named as a condition by the researchers in the study and has become a buzzword used by specific marketers, or others referring to the research. If it is a specific hair issue, it would be discussed by cosmetic chemists as a challenge to help overcome and it would be used in advertising and marketing for hair products generally, as a term for the promotion of a product to deal with or help prevent, like dry or porous hair.

Hair samples used and how they are prepared for testing in scientific research impact results, as do all samples and methods used for scientific investigation. In that 2001 research study, according to Page 170, colour added by me,
"The hair sample was black Indian hair obtained from individuals who did not use coconut or mineral oils as hair dressing". 

The control samples were cleaned prior to testing, according to the text provided. Therefore to me, the untreated control samples that were submerged in water for one hour were more vulnerable to swelling because of the cleaning, which also would have removed natural oil from within them.

From Page 171, colour added by me
"The drops of oil were placed on hair swatches and were spread onto the hair fibers with a fine-tooth comb. The samples were stored overnight, and then the oil remaining on the surface was washed with a 20% solution of sodium laureth sulfate and the swatches were rinsed thoroughly, air-dried, and stored at room temperature. Control samples were treated in a similar way, except for treatment with the oils." 

There is room for interpretation of the text on hair sample preparation. In other studies funded by the same company referred to in this blog, in 1999, Pages 328 and 329 and 2003, Page 178, the hair samples used were also pre-cleaned prior to preparation for testing. However, I go by what is actually written in each study. I would need to contact the researchers or company to verify and clarify hair sample preparation in this case.

It gets even more complicated on Page 178 of the 2001 study, colour added by me.
"Characteristic positive ions of mineral-oil-treated hair. The positive spectra obtained from the surface of the cross sections of hair fibers treated with mineral oil are similar to the spectra of the untreated hair (Figure 9). No mineral oil was detected in the treated hair. However, coconut oil and polydimethylsiloxane peaks were observed in the high-mass range, similar to observations made for the untreated hair fiber. This indicates that these hair fibers had been exposed to coconut oil as well as silicones and surfactant."

From this research abstract, dated 2009, colour added by me,
"Hair is one of the most difficult proteins to digest or solubilize. Among the most common dissolving procedures for hair are acidic, alkaline, and enzymatic hydrolysis." 

See also this information
"The keratin found in hair is called "hard" keratin. This type of keratin does not dissolve in water and is quite resilient. .... Hydrogen bonds account for one-third of the hair's strength. The hydrogen bond is a weak physical side bond that is easily broken by water or heat. Hydrogen bonds can be reformed by drying or cooling the hair." 

Information on the elasticity of hair can be found in the book Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, 2012 by cosmetic chemist Clarence R. Robbins, in a searchable preview here. The swelling of hair can cause damage. Hygral fatigue though is not mentioned.

Effectively neutralizing chlorine immediately after swimming can prevent chlorine from crystallizing in your hair and causing damage once your hair has dried. Removing sea water salt and other minerals helps prevent hair damage too. Saturating your hair with water prior to swimming may help as well. If your hair already has oil or silicone on it from your usual hair care routine, too much water should not be absorbed by doing that.

Damaged hair needs extra protection to not absorb too much water at any time. There are various products that can help. Added oil is one of them but using a lot of oil or other products whether your hair is damaged or not is not necessary.

The shampoo I use contains one silicone and catnip contains some oil. I use mineral oil baby oil in between catnip use and occasionally, a very small drop or so of it in addition to catnip for extra polish. My hair is not dry and it has not become frizzy, even in conditions of high or low humidity in a long time. It used to become slightly frizzy very rarely, a good while back now.

That was most likely because I used too much shampoo. The natural oil in your hair is a defense against too much water entering your hair as well, to a degree. Overusing any product that can remove or emulsify oil reduces that protection.