What you should know about… shampoo

“Imagine a tadpole with a head and tail: one end of the molecule is hydrophilic (`water loving side´) and the other is hydrophobic (`water hating side´).”

Kim Kardashian has it and Kylie Jenner changes hers so often we can´t even keep count any longer. We´re not talking about anything in the realm of plastic surgery or rapper boyfriends, we´re talking about their gorgeous hair. Because let’s be honest, if you have stunning and shiny hair, you automatically succeed in life whether you are a Kardashian or not.

You gotta love shampoo for taking such good care of our hair. It’s amazing how there are so many different products out there to choose from that cater to all hair types. When you think about it, shampoo is like a gift from the gods really. But how exactly does it clean our precious locks? According to cosmetic scientist Rachael Polowyj, shampoo is effectively full of surfactants, which are surface acting agents.

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Shampoo is a blend of surfactants. Image credit: cosmeticsdesign-europe.com

“Imagine a tadpole with a head and tail: one end of the molecule is hydrophilic (`water loving side´) and the other is hydrophobic (`water hating side´)”, says Rachael. “This is a surfactant molecule. When you put shampoo on your hair, the water hating side will cling onto the grease of your hair. And once you rinse it, the water loving side will get attracted to the water going down the drain and pull off the dirt from the hair.”

“Before shampoo was even invented, people would wash their hair using a simple bar of soap.”

The next time you decide to read the label on your average shampoo bottle, keep in mind that there are different types of surfactants. One example would be cocamidopropyl betaine, which comes from coconuts and is considered a soft surfactant, while sodium lauryl sulfate is deemed to be harsher. Preservatives such as parabens and phenoxyethanol are also added in shampoos to prevent them from getting mouldy.

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Testing Haircare Products at LCF MSc Cosmetic Science lab, Image Credit: London College of Fashion offical website

Before shampoo was even invented, people would wash their hair using a simple bar of soap. And while haircare has certainly come a long way since, if you were to strip all the ingredients from shampoo and only kept the surfactants, soap would be the same thing. The only difference is that shampoo is more tailored for the particular area of application.

So, whilst you are whipping your hair back and forth with some new-found wisdom, check out how shampoo giant Head & Shoulders produces its haircare products.

Cover image credit: Pinterest

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