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Hot Topics in Textured Hair Research: Hair Porosity and Hair Braiding Damage

Updated: Nov 11

The ‘TRI/ITC Multi-Ethnic Hair and Scalp Care Symposium’, was held on-line on 4th, 5th and 6th October. Two of the hot topics shared at the Symposium in the area of hair research are covered in this short blog: hair porosity and hair braiding damage.



The symposium opened with a key-note presentation about the hair care market in Africa by Elke Weimann (BASF) https://library.triprinceton.org/1ftsar9/ . Elke showed that the sub-Saharan hair care market was worth €2.1 Bn in 2019 and that the biggest growth area was in hair conditioners and care treatments (3.3% value growth). Consumer research by BASF showed that hair breakage remained a major hair concern for 56% of women. However, a surprisingly high number, 70-80%, also believed their hair had medium-high porosity. Clearly this is another major unmet need.


Looking at hair porosity from a different, more scientific perspective, Kimum Park (Croda) described, in his poster presentation, how he and his team were looking at how hair damage and hair repair treatments affect water uptake into hair and hair swelling https://library.triprinceton.org/1fts1af/ . His data showed that very curly hair does, indeed, swell more than straighter hair types. So, perhaps African consumers are right to say their hair is more porous! A discussion then ensued as to what hair ‘porosity’ actually means. Is there a disconnect between what consumers mean and what scientists mean? Clearly, more work is required to get the bottom of this intriguing question and to meet consumer needs.


Building on the theme of hair damage in African hair, Poonam Sewraj (L’Oréal ), in her key-note presentation, shared her team’s work on understanding the underlying mechanisms https://library.triprinceton.org/1ftsbti/ . Using SEM and single fibre mechanical fatigue testing, Poonam showed how typical styling practices used in Africa impart damage to the hair. It was interesting to hear that hair braiding, something that is widely regarded by consumers as a way of protecting their hair, can actually be damaging to the hair.


The subject of braiding damage was also covered by Rebecca Lunn (Diastron) https://library.triprinceton.org/1fts1vn/ . In good agreement with Poonam’s presentation, Rebecca showed how the act of twisting the hair, as you would when you braid it, reduced its fatigue strength. Clearly, further work is required to understand braiding damage in more detail, and to design ways of mitigating this damage.


For more information about hair and skin science, and information about future events, visit us at www.triprinceton.org

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