Conditioning the Hair Part III

How Conditioners Can Help Repair Chemical-Related Damage

In "Conditioning the Hair, Part II," we discussed how combing and the weather can damage the hair and how conditioners can help. Here, we take a look at chemicals, in part three of this series. 

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Relaxers contain sodium hydroxide, potassium  hydroxide as active ingredients. (To date, sodium hydroxide and guanidine hydroxide are the most effective straightening agents). Relaxers work by changing a third of the cystine bonds into lanthionine bonds, and in the process, the hair experiences a twelve-to-fourteen per cent loss in tensile strength. 

Permanent waves contain ammonium thioglycolate as an active ingredient and have a pH of 9.0-9.5 (The pH level is attained when ammonium or monoethanolamine - MEA- is added to the ammonium thioglycolate creme rearrangers or boosters during manufacturing). Ammonium thioglycolate cremes reduce (or break) 20-40 per cent of cystine bonds into cysteine bonds (or 1/2 cystine) bonds before the hair is rodded. During neutralization process, the reduced bonds are oxidized with the help of sodium bromate, reforming 80-85 percent of the broken bonds. Therefore, 15-20 percent of reduced (broken) cystine bonds never reform, thus causing dryness to permanently waved hair. 

Permanent hair colors contain hydrogen peroxide as one of the active ingredients at 20-40 volume concentration. As the color of the hair is permanently altered, cystine bonds are changed to cysteic acid. This process is also extremely drying to the hair.

In each of the chemical processes described above, it is important that hair be well conditioned before, during and after the procedure and that any existing damage be repaired. Attending to the hair in this way, while it's being chemically treated, will also help eliminate combing damage. Be sure to select chemical systems that incorporate such complete conditioning features.