Preferential oil penetration into hair


1. Nascent Technologies Corporation, Lawrenceville Ga, USA
2. Sidney Hornby Consulting, LLC


The selection of natural oils for conditioning of hair has often been a difficult decision. Many times it is based upon the availability of a particular oil based upon historic use or based upon pragmatic use of the oils on the hair. Additionally, hair is a complex structure requiring different oils in different places. The use of sophisticated analytical techniques to determine which oils stay on the surface or penetrate to different regions was done and is the topic of a patent application – US 2005/0069517. This Science for Formulators edition looks at this work. The result is a composition for application to the hair including: (i) a first hair conditioning agent, wherein such first hair conditioning agent penetrates the core of the hair; (ii) a second hair conditioning agent that penetrates into the cortex region of the hair but does not substantially penetrate into the core of the hair; and (iii) a third hair conditioning agent, that remains on the hair surface not substantially penetrating into the cortex of the hair.

Simply defined, hair is a protein filament that grows from follicles found in the epidermis and the dermis. Hair is one of the defining characteristics of mammals (1). However this definition tremendously underestimates the social importance humans place on their hair. Throughout history, hair has played a significant role in our society – it is associated with youthfulness and beauty in women and virility and masculinity in men; so it’s no surprise that hair loss can make many men and women feel self-conscious (2).


For many years, natural oils have been used to condition hair. As a child I remember my grandmother applying a few drops of olive oil to her hands and running her fingers through my hair. She spoke of the benefits for strong, full, soft and healthy hair. It was amazing to find that my grandmother was correct and exciting to find that a group of scientists have studied preferential penetration of different oils into the hair.


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