Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chemistry of your hair: A short post on dandruff

Dandruff is defined as excessive scaling of the scalp that results in flaking of our skin. There are many different things that can cause dandruff but the general consensus is that it is a low-grade underlying inflammatory process resulting in proliferative activity of the scalp, meaning there is some kind of inflammation that is leading to excessive scaling. A person with dandruff might see a scalp skin cell turnover of as short as 7 days, whereas someone without dandruff might take up to a month. People with oilier scalps with an excess of oleic acid and a microbe (Pityrosporum species Malassezia ovalis) are more susceptible to dandruff. (The microbe processes the oils and causes an inflammatory response in our stratum corneum.) It's more active in the colder months than the summer.

Dandruff treatments should include anti-microbial agents (like Tinosan or quaternary compounds), keratolytic agents (like salicylic acid or sulfur to increase scalp desquamation) and anti-seborrheic compounds (things that reduce sebum levels, like coal tar).

Because I'm not comfortable making what could be considered drugs or treatments as opposed to cosmetics - for instance, making claims about treating a diagnosable health condition - I won't be offering any recipes for treating dandruff. If you want to make a shampoo suitable for dandruff you'll could start with any shampoo suitable for oily to very oily hair, add some salicylic acid or white willow bark for the keratolytic properties (at 0.1% to 1%), and add some anti-microbial extracts, essential oils, or ingredients.

I have read that people with dandruff should wash their hair more often because of the contribution of sebum to the condition, and even brushing your hair more often might help to exfoliate the scalp.


Eric said...

Dandruff reacts specifically to antifungals. Saying antimicrobials is too vague; something antibacterial isn't going to help.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

An anti-microbial is "an agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth." Fungus and bacteria are microorganisms and anti-microbials will kill or inhibit their growth. I don't think saying that you want an anti-microbial in your product is too vague. It's accurate. You want something that works as an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal ingredient.

I disagree that anti-bacterials won't help. Please see this link from the Mayo Clinic, this abstract, and this book excerpt as references for this post. I can provide more links, if you wish.

CurlShoppe Canada said...

How can we add white willow bark extract to a shampoo? I've tried adding at 0.25% to boiling water and dissolving, before adding to cool down phase, but it doesn't seem to fully dissolve. It mixes in but still seems a bit gritty. Help? Thanks!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi CurlShoppe Canada! Did you do a search for "willow bark" as I have many recipes that contain it as I love it so much. You don't want to add boiling water to your extracts! We add them at 0.5% in the cool down phase. And it won't fully dissolve in a titch of water because its solubility is higher than 1 gram to a titch of water.

You might want to consider using another type of willow bark if this one isn't dissolving almost immediately. Consider using a liquid extract, like the ones I have from Lotioncrafter or Formulator Sample Shop. Or ask your supplier why it isn't dissolving well.

Natasha Sheppard said...

Hi Susan!

*from CurlShoppe*

Thanks for the "no boiled water" tip lol. I had more success mixing in the extract with glycerin but still a bit gritty (see the specs). The willow bark and calendula also made my shampoo brown and my mom almost threw it out because she said she bought it was dirty water! Ahahaha.

I looked at Willow Bark - Liquid and it was SO expensive compared to the extract itself ( I wonder if I should try making a tincture? I saw instructions on this on in their recipe section but wasn't sure if this would work for hair product formulations..