Hair's fountain of youth
A newly developed Keratin-based anti-ageing hair care product
may be a winning ticket for New Zealand-based company Keratec,
promoting healthier, shinier hair that is protected against
sunlight and other environmental hazards that can damage and
prematurely age the hair.
Keratec IFP is derived from a unique keratin protein fraction
which the company claims is highly effective at maintaining
the youthful structure and condition of hair, from the root – where
hair is generally in the best condition – to the tip.
It forms a protective shield around the hair, rebuffing UV
radiation and pollution and thus keeping the underlying hair
healthy and youthful.
To test the ingredient against UVB radiation, Keratec contracted
the research provider Canesis Network Ltd. to conduct experiments
involving tensile testing on human hair and tryptophan analysis
by fluorescence spectroscopy (The amino acid tryptophan is
destroyed by UV light, so a decrease in tryptophan is a recognized
indicator of hair damage). Treated and untreated hair was
tested both in natural sunlight and in simulated UV conditions.
Results showed that untreated hair fibers were progressively
damaged by exposure to UV radiation, evidenced by a decrease
in the tensile strength of the hair and an observed depletion
of tryptophan on the surface of the hair. However, when hair
was treated with the Keratec IFP conditioner (with a rinse-off
protocol), the tensile strength was not adversely affected
following exposure to UV radiation. Furthermore, tryptophan
levels on the hair surface were unchanged, indicating that
the Keratec IFP treatment protected the hair from UV damage.
While Keratec is not unique in claiming to provide hair with
comprehensive protection against UV rays, it is the first
to link that protection to anti-ageing, an area that might
prove highly lucrative in the hair cosmetics current market.
Though the hair care segment remains the largest in the global
beauty industry in terms of value, anti-ageing products have
represented the industry’s biggest growth category for
some years. In 2003, Euromonitor estimated that the global
market for anti-ageing skin care treatments was $6.9 billion,
a figure that was growing at 11.4 percent a year.
With the baby boomer generation having more spending power
than any other generation, and the growing fixation on youthful
looks, many industry experts believe that the demand for anti-ageing
products looks sustainable for the foreseeable future.