Patricia Poses This One:
I am a Chemistry student right now and Im trying to do a research project on amino acids in shampoos. I’m trying to find out any type of scientific information I can. I stumbled across your website, and I thought it was brilliant. If anyone can point me in the right direction I’m confident you could. I would love any type of information you could offer me. Or if you know a good place I could look. Thank you so much for your time.
The Right Brain Retorts:
Patricia, if you poke around on our site you’ll find numerous references to amino
acids in hair care products. For the most part, these are what we call “fairy tale” ingredients, they’re added just to give the marketing people something to talk about. The products themselves do a great job of cleaning and conditioning hair but the amino acids don’t directly affect the hair in most cases.
There are a couple of notable exceptions, however. Some conditioners use amino acids to neutralize other functional ingredients in the formula. This reaction creates a salt complex that can affect the feel of the product on hair. Also, amino acids are really just chopped up protein molecules and it has been shown that proteins can be chemically modified to be substantive to hair to provide a conditioning effect. In our experience the amount of conditioning delivered by proteins is quite small compared to other conditioning ingredients, but there is a lot of data out there (mostly from the companies that sell proteins) that indicates they work.
Finally, if you REALLY want to learn more about amino acids, proteins, and hair,
here’s a great technical resource: Clarence Robbins’ The Chemical and Physical Behaviour of Human Hair. It’s very expensive (even on Amazon.com) but you could look for it at your local library.
But in the meantime, here are a couple of other sources that you might find helpful:
We hope this helps, write back and let us know how your project turns out!