More than charge: The zeta potential reveals the adsorption of shampoo and conditioner on hair

Changes in the interfacial charge of human hair upon its interaction with hair care formulations suggest the application of the zeta potential analysis by the streaming potential method. This report demonstrates the utility of the zeta potential for the simulation of the hair washing cycle by visualizing the adsorption of active compounds on human hair.

The expectation towards today’s hair care products goes far beyond purely cleansing of hair. When considering the different ethnics of hair, the environmental impact on hair damage, or the demands for hair styling and fashion, it is not surprising to find an almost infinite offer of varying hair care formulations. The development of such versatile formulations requires a more quantitative analytical approach on top of the commonly applied combing or elaborate panel tests. We suggest the analysis of the surface zeta potential at the interface between the hair fiber and an aqueous emulsion of a corresponding formulation. The surface-sensitive parameter of the zeta potential helps to explore the interaction of formulation components with the hair surface and to fine-tune the formulation composition.
The adsorption and desorption efficiency of two hair care formulations, a shampoo and a conditioner, on virgin Caucasian hair was evaluated by the surface zeta potential. The zeta potential of virgin and treated hair was determined from the measurement of the streaming potential using the instrument SurPASS 3. The effects of different concentration of formulation emulsions on the zeta potential of hair were studied for the individual formulations and for a combination of shampoo and conditioner. The zeta potential for formulation emulsions determined from the measurement of the electrophoretic mobility with the instrument Litesizer 500 complement the analysis of the hair-formulation interface.

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