Lois Rogers

Journalist and Communicator

Cleaning Up

Science

The Sunday Times 17 August 2014

The mineral breakthrough by Lois Rogers
How the minerals in water affect our hair is an issue that’s been occupying scientific beauty minds for a while. Studies on the subject began with the split-end problems suffered by sheep (yes, seriously), and our woolly friends may have helped provide the solution to luxuriant tresses for all. Analysis of sheep’s wool, which is structurally similar to human hair, has shown that copper from water gradually builds up in the hair fibre, with the highest concentrations found at the tips. This copper reacts with sunlight and natural oils in the hair to damage the proteins that make up its structure, weakening each strand and causing it to dry out, break off or simply split. Research by scientists at Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s biggest hair-product manufacturers, found that this previously undiscovered build-up of copper is a big source of damage to hair across the world, regardless of people’s ethnic group or whether they live in a rural wilderness or an urban jungle. So P&G started to look for a way of removing this excess copper without stripping other minerals and shine-promoting oils from the hair. A new technology has emerged that appears to have cracked it, with the invention of a molecule (Ethylenediamine-N,N’-disuccinic acid or, more simply, EDDS) that binds to copper and helps neutralise it. The antioxidant damage-blocker molecule is to be incorporated into all Pantene Pro-V shampoos from August 1 (prices from £4). It’s not a quick fix, though. As Gill Westgate, from the Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford, explains: “Hair only grows at one centimetre a month, and you would need to wait a year or for about 12cm of growth to see a real difference. People will have to be patient to see results.”

Written by Lois Rogers