Repairing hair is what everyone wishes for when they choose a ‘Damage Repair’ product off the shelf. But the question is; do these products actually repair or fix the hair? Or is this just a marketing gimmick to attract more customers. In this article we will look at whether breakage and split ends of hair can actually be reversed from a scientific point of view.
A microscopic look at hair breakage and split ends
The images show scanning electron micrographs (SEM) of hair from healthy to split ends and breakage. As you notice, the cuticles at those points are practically gone, and the hair has suffered a lot of physical and potentially chemical stress as well.
Is hair alive? Can it repair like skin?
Unfortunately the answer is no. Hair unlike skin does not have any cells to regenerate and repair. Hair grows from hair follicles on the scalp. These hair follicles behave like small organs, composed of tissues, blood cells, and glands among other essential components (see image). Because these hair follicles are alive, they keep producing new hair, pushing out old hair through the shedding process (Telogen phase). But hair on the other hand is mainly Keratin, Protein fibers. Once the fibers are broken, they cannot fix themselves, and there is no ‘ointment’ available like for skin to help them recover.
What do ‘Damage Repair’ products do?
Many hair damage repair products claim that the products will repair/restore/fix hair that has breakage and split ends. The choice of words used in marketing can positively or negatively impact the consumer and the marketing agents are aware of that. Unfortunately, ‘glueing’ the pieces back together are the only way to go and there is by far only one technology that comes close to that. So what do these products do?
Many of these products have been specially formulated with polymers (many of are protein based) such as hydrolyzed wheat protein, designed to fill the gaps in the hair temporarily. Imagine a cracked surface and putting in some putty just to fill those gaps. The end result: a smooth surface, that feels repaired and that looks nicer than it was before. Additionally these products are rich in conditioning materials including oils or silicones that help minimize friction upon styling and hence reduce further damage.
However, there is hope: One technology is using polyelectrolyte complexes (PEC) whereby the complex is said to infiltrate the damaged sites and bond the split ends temporarily together. The complex is formed as a result of the ionic association of a cationic polymer, Polyquaternium-28, and an anionic polymer, PVM/MA Copolymer. Example of a product with this complex:
So yes if you have damaged hair or lots of split ends these products will be of great help but, most of them are temporary fixes. Unfortunately, the only way to repair split ends are to get rid of them. 🙁
Check out the latest technology to repair split ends and damage: CPM technology. It is also a semi-permanent solution with lots of nice benefits.