Hair loss (alopecia) can be a major source of distress and is a common problem.
In this article, we’ll go through common causes of hair loss, including facts about the hair cycle, what constitutes a good hair loss shampoo, and all about the scalp microbiome. We will also share an excerpt from Haircare Bible: A Dermatologist’s Tips on Haircare and Hair Loss by Dr. Teo Wan Lin, Dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre.
The Hair Cycle
Normal hair grows through a hair cycle that has three stages. The growth phase, or anagen phase, is the longest phase of the hair cycle, with 80 to 90% of the hair on our scalp in this phase. In the next stage called the catagen phase, the hair bulb detaches from the blood supply and is pushed from the scalp. In the last stage, the telogen phase, shedding occurs as the hair is released, leaving behind an empty follicle.
Each hair follicle is independent, going through the cycle at different stages as the other hairs. Hair problems occur when there is a disruption in the hair cycle.
What are the causes of hair loss?
Hair loss can be caused either by an isolated problem or a combination of factors including genetics, chronic medical diseases such as a thyroid problem or underlying anemia (low blood count), poor nutrition, etc.
Chemical treatments performed in hair salons, such as hair dyes, bleaching, perming and rebonding hair, can cause a form of hair loss from breakage of the hair shaft.
In the hospital setting, patients undergoing chemotherapy usually suffer from a form of temporary hair loss, caused by the hair follicles entering into the resting phase whereby they are shed.
Namely, as our hair growth cycle goes through 3 main phases — active growth caused by anagen, transitional growth caused by catagen and inactive growth and shedding caused by telogen — an impact in any of these stages caused by the abovementioned factors can lead to loss in hair density due to less hair on the scalp present in the growth or anagen phase.
Hair loss shampoo
What constitutes a good shampoo?
Caring for one’s hair is just as important as caring for one’s face, but often gets less attention. Understanding what constitutes a good hair loss shampoo is an important part of making sure your hair stays healthy and voluminous.
To help you navigate the world of shampoo products, we introduce you to the basics you need to know.
How should a shampoo function?
A shampoo is a viscous liquid (liquid with texture that tends to be thick). Its primary purpose is cleansing the scalp and hair of dirt, sebum, sweat, dead skin cells and environmental pollutants. It does so by dissolving oil-soluble dirt, which is water-insoluble and hence, cannot be removed by solely rinsing with water. A hair loss shampoo should also remove greasy residues from hair care products such as oils, gels and sprays. The overall effect is that of cleansing to maintain a good hygiene level to reduce the chance of scalp irritation, inflammation and odour.
While most shampoos can accomplish a thorough cleanse, the real challenge lies in removing just enough sebum to allow the hair to be clean without drying it out.
This explains why most shampoo formulations have a secondary function of smoothing the hair’s surface and imparting lustre, smoothness, buoyancy and volume.
Certain types of hair loss shampoos also treat the scalp with medicated ingredients, such as those targeting dandruff, a common scalp disorder caused by a yeast known as Malassezia.
The Copper Peptide Hair Regrowth Deep Cleanse Shampoo is formulated for hair loss and sensitive scalps. It has degreasing, soothing, and anti-hairloss effects. It also contains amino acid surfactant for sensitive scalps, zinc pyrithione for anti-dandruff action, and copper peptide for healthy hair growth.
Types of surfactants
A surfactant is often amphiphilic, meaning its molecules contain both lipophilic (oil-attracting) and hydrophilic (water-attracting) parts. The oil-attracting parts bind to sebum while the water-loving sites parts to water. Such a mechanism allows sebum to be removed when in contact with water.
The type of surfactants used in hair loss shampoos is classified according to their hydrophilic polar group. The four common categories of shampoo surfactants are anionics, cationics, non-ionics and amphoterics. Most shampoo formulas rely on two types of surfactants.
The surfactant listed first in a shampoo’s ingredient list denotes the primary cleanser and also the ingredient in the highest concentration. The surfactant listed second is the secondary cleanser; this is often added to offset the weaknesses of the first surfactant.
Anionic surfactants are named for their negatively charged hydrophilic (water-loving) parts. Derived from fatty alcohols, they are good at removing sebum from the scalp. However, excessive cleansing with anionic surfactants leaves the hair harsh, rough, dull, frizzy and prone to tangling. Examples include sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium lauryl sulfate.
In contrast to anionic surfactants, cationic surfactants have a positively charged element. Cationic surfactants are poor cleansers and do not lather well. They are also not compatible with anionic surfactants. However, they are excellent at keeping chemically damaged hair soft and manageable. As a result, shampoos for damaged or coloured hair often include cationic surfactants. Examples include long-chain amino esters, ammonioesters, and cetyltrimethylammonium chloride.
With both positively and negatively charged groups, amphoteric surfactants foam well and condition the hair. They help with the formation of micellar emulsion, improving the lathering ability of the shampoo, resulting in a thick liquid which is efficient to use. In addition, they do not cause stinging in the eyes and are gentle on the skin/scalp barrier, making them ideal for mild shampoos. Examples are cocamidopropyl betaine, sulfonate betaine, amphoteric acetate/diacetate.
Nonionic surfactants do not have a charged group and hence are compatible with any surfactant. Nonionic surfactants are the mildest type of surfactant. Such surfactants are often used in baby shampoos. Examples are fatty alcohol ethoxylates, cocamide MEA, sorbitan ether esters, and alkyl polyglucosides.
The Scalp Microbiome
The scalp is one of the thickest parts of the skin on the body, with on average about 100,000 hairs growing on it at a given time. It high production of vitamin-rich sebum (oil) and an unusually humid environment, which gives rise to microbes and microorganisms that aren’t found on any other part of the body.
The scalp microbiome is the balance of healthy microorganisms that work together and contribute to our scalp health. Just like our skin microbiome, if the delicate microbiome is thrown off balance, skin conditions can develop, causing symptoms of flaking, itching, and irritation.
Keeping the scalp microbiome health: Shampoo
Research has shown that zinc pyrithione medicated shampoo is a safe and effective way to treat dandruff. By fighting off Malassezia, it is a beneficial way to restore the health of your scalp microbiome.
The Copper Peptide Deep Cleanse Shampoo contains amino acid surfactant for gentle cleansing of sensitive scalps, zinc pyrithione that has anti-dandruff properties, and copper peptide that helps to promote healthy hair growth.
SHOP THE STORYTags: Hair Loss, Haircare, Sensitive Scalp