One ingredient often seen in your hair products is hydrolyzed wheat protein which has been found to provide numerous benefits to hair, especially to damaged hair. In fact the hydrolyzed protein was found to significantly aid hair that has been permed, bleached, colored or otherwise chemically treated.
What is hydrolyzed wheat protein?
First of all, proteins are large molecules with high molecular weights (from about 10,000 for small ones to more than 1,000,000 for certain forms). In order to use them in hair or skin formulations they are hydrolyzed into smaller fragments. Hydrolysis of the protein is what happens when the peptide bonds are broken. We say that the protein has been hydrolyzed. This process needs water and an enzyme. The result of hydrolysis: smaller amino acid chains. In the case of wheat protein, the hydrolyzed fragments are about 1000 Daltons.
The benefits of hydrolyzed wheat protein
Studies have shown that hydrolyzed wheat protein improves the tensile properties of the hair fibers, particularly as they were drying. In other words, it helps keep the hair elastic by controlling the rate of moisture loss from the hair. This prevents breakage. The reason why it is able to influence the mechanical properties of the hair is because it can penetrate the cortex as evidenced by fluorescence studies. Additionally, the more the damage, the easier the penetration into hair.
Hydrolyzed wheat protein is known to confer improved combability, smooth feel (silky feel), moisturization and help maintain the natural structure of hair. While it cannot repair any damage done to the keratin of hair, it can replenish the voids of the hair with cystine and prevent further weakening of the fiber.
Note that Keratin is an irreplaceable protein in respect to its mechanical and protective properties, and the using of amino acids does not replace or restore the damaged molecule structure.
Those proteins are also found to have film forming abilities. SEM studies have shown the deposition of these proteins at the cuticle edges suggesting that they can act as an ‘adhesive’ layer to keep the cuticles sealed.
From a formulation point of view, those materials are uncharged as compared to proteins and amino acids themselves. This allows them to be used in various types of formulations without the headaches of ingredient incompatibilities.
In summary some of the consumer benefits that hydrolyzed wheat protein has to offer:
- Increased hydration
- Increased elasticity
- Protection to cuticles
- Increased conditioning effects
Examples of products using hydrolyzed wheat proteins
- Arvazallia Fortifying Protein Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner with Argan Oil and Macadamia Oil.
- Living Proof Restore Conditioner
PlayCurl™ Curl Amplifying Shampoo