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Hair repair: new technology really works

February is link love month at the Beauty Brains. All month we’re answering questions from other bloggers to introduce our readers to beauty blogs they may not have seen before. Today’s question comes from one of our new favorites, Michelle at Lab Muffin. Check out her site!

Michelle asks…Are there ANY hair products out there that can actually reconstruct/repair hair (as opposed to just protecting it from further damage)?

The Right Brain responds:

This is a great question because one of our favorite pet peeves are all the products that claim to repair hair but don’t. When you actually look at the science behind those products you find that they are almost always “regular” conditioners. That means they are very good at smoothing the cuticle and helping to prevent future damage but the do nothing to truly repair hair.

Does any hair repair product really work?

There is hope, however, because of new one technology that works differently. This technology is based on a polyelectrolyte complex, or PEC for short. This PEC complex consists of a negatively charged ion (PVM/MA copolymer) and a positively charged ion (Polyquaternium-28.) This combination of positive and negative charges creates a single complex with the unique ability to stick to damage hairs and to itself.

How does PEC technology repair hair?

What does all this mean? Well, instead of just coating the outside of hair like most conditioners do, the tiny PEC molecules are able to enter the split ends of hair. Because the complex can stick to the damaged hair protein and to other complex molecules, it creates little bridges across the open ends of the splits. As your hair dries, the water evaporates from the complex causing it to contract. The force of this contraction pulls the end of the split hairs back together again. Once the PECs are dry they bind the split end shut. Watch this video to see what happens when a drop of PEC complex is placed on a split end and dried with a blow dryer:

Which products contain PEC technology?

Nexxus, Joico, and Tresemme all make products containing the Polyelectrolyte Complex. If you’d like to try this new hair repair technology for yourself, please consider buying one of these through the links below. Your purchase helps support the Beauty Brains blog.

Nexxus Pro-Mend Conditioner

Joico K-Pak Reconstruct Split End Mender

Tresemme Split Remedy Conditioner

Image credit: Splitender.com

Reference: Ending the Cycle of Split Ends

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Kristen Paige February 21, 2014, 11:50 am

    What is the actual ingredient (or ingredients) that I should look for to determine if a product has this technology? I want to know for the future in case additional items come on the market that have it! Thanks 🙂

  • Kristen Paige February 21, 2014, 11:53 am

    From the above info, I’m thinking the ingredients that need to be there are just Polyquaternium 28 and PVM/MA Copolymer; but does the presence of those two mean it for sure works as described? Or are there other factors? Again, I’m just wondering how I can determine if a product has this based on the ingredient label.

    • Randy Schueller February 21, 2014, 4:08 pm

      Kristen: The two ingredients you mentioned are the critical ones. We’ve never seen any product that can deliver this degree of split end mending without them. HOWEVER, just because you see them listed as ingredients doesn’t guarantee the product will work. The polyelectolyte complex that these ingredients form is very sensitive to processing, other ingredients that may be present, and even concentration.

  • PA February 23, 2014, 11:31 am

    The Nexxus and TresSemme serums are amazing for reducing frizz and excess volume in my big, frizzy, long hair. I only used the serums, not all their other products. They are the best anti-frizz products I’ve used. They made the curls more defined and shinier. I use them all over the top layer of hair, not just at the ends. The problem for me is that fragrances make my skin or eyes get red. I used these products anyway for awhile because I’m semi-desperate to have nicer hair. But in the end it seemed like the red eyes more than cancelled out the lovely hair, in terms of looking good overall, so I stopped using them. But if you don’t have a fragrance problem, the PEC technology really is a breakthrough and these products are worth a try.

  • Kristen Paige February 24, 2014, 9:08 am

    Thanks for the feedback!! I have used the Tresemme Split Remedy conditioner in the past and honestly felt like it made a difference in helping my split ends. I’ve recently had trouble finding it in stores (may just be a fluke) and my hair is not the same now. I will definitely seek out and continue to use the Split Remedy conditioner in the future.

  • skb August 14, 2014, 9:24 pm

    How often does one have to use these treatments to maintain the bonded split ends? Are the split ends bonded permanently (or at least, until they are damaged again) or does it eventually wash out? I’ve found great improvement in my hair with a conditioner containing BIS-aminopropyl dimethicone, and have read that this is a silicone which bonds strongly to damaged parts of the hair but not to itself. Is the combined ingredients you mentioned better?

    • Randy Schueller August 15, 2014, 6:24 am

      Depending on your individual hair condition, these kind of treatments can last through several shampooings. Each time you shampoo a few more splits may open up but overall they stay sealed reasonably well. It is NOT permanent. The dimethicone ingredient is a good conditioner but it does not mend splits from the inside out like this PEC technology does.

  • PA July 13, 2015, 2:26 pm

    Has anyone found an unscented product with PEC technology? Or a source for buying this kind of PEC as a raw ingredient?

    • Randy Schueller July 14, 2015, 10:54 am

      I’ve never seen an unscented product with PEC. Buying it as a raw ingredient is not a very good option because the complex only works when mixed under the proper processing conditions which you can’t duplicate very well at home.

      • PA July 31, 2015, 3:24 pm

        Thanks for answering my questions!

  • Sarah September 15, 2016, 6:10 pm

    I just got some Nexxus Pro-Mend using your referral link, but I’m actually not sure how I should incorporate it into my routine. The bottle’s instructions describe it as being step two in a multi-step process that involves buying a bunch of other Nexxus products. Since you didn’t mention using their other products, I’m assuming the conditioner on its own is all that’s sufficient. But I’m also confused because you mentioned that it can last for several shampoos. I have waist-length uncolored hair that I wash and blow-dry every 2-3 days, and normally I use shampoo and conditioner from the Aussie Three-Minute Miracle line. Should I just use the same shampoo as normal and then substitute the Nexxus Pro-Mend for my conditioner every 2-3 showers, or is there another way? Or is it better to use the Nexxus Pro-Mend in every shower? Also, is it possible to over-rinse my conditioner at the end of the shower and thereby make it less effective?

    Thank you for your wonderful blog!

    • Randy Schueller September 15, 2016, 8:38 pm

      You’re correct that you can use the conditioner alone and still get much/most of the benefit. (It will work better if you use their leave in conditioner.) Trying using the Pro-mend conditioner in place of your regular Aussie product. Just keep in mind that the feel of this conditioner may be very different than what you’re used to. Let us know what happens!

      • Sarah September 19, 2016, 9:53 pm

        Thank you for your quick reply! I tried it and it worked great! You were quite right that it felt different in the shower – thicker and less goopy than other conditioners I’ve used. Now, after everything was dry, my hair feels pretty normal except that the bottom ~3 inches is less frizzy than usual (which is what I was hoping to achieve). I’m definitely very happy with the results. Is there a way to tell if I’m over-rinsing the conditioner? (This is more a general question than one unique to the Nexxus Promend.) Should I always rinse conditioner out so my hair feels “normally” wet afterwards, or should I try to stop rinsing when it still feels a bit slippery from whatever conditioner I’m using?

        • Randy Schueller September 20, 2016, 8:17 am

          The Promend conditioner does have a different feel after rinsing. I’ve never seen over rinsing be a problem but you’ll have to experiment to see what works best for your hair.

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