Viruses Carnauba Wax and Argan oil on hair – Episode 215

This is Episode 215. I’m your host, Perry Romanowski and with me today all the way from sunny California is Valerie George.  Hello Valerie!

We have a few interesting beauty questions to cover today, including:

  • Can the coronavirus survive on your hair?
  • What does it mean when a permanent color says it’s not for gray hair?
  • Can ingredient technology justify a price point?
  • Is carnauba wax bad for hair?
  • Does argan oil penetrate the hair shaft and do anything useful?

Beauty Science

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Beauty Questions

Question 1 – Patty – What is the potential of the virus sitting in hair? I don’t wash my hair daily. Would you recommend I wash my hair on a daily basis to combat the virus?

We’re not doctors and this isn’t really our area of expertise. 

This isn’t something that is necessarily known. The virus is so new that there hasn’t been a lot of research done on it. But viruses can live on hair. So, it’s not an unreasonable concern about having the virus build up on your hair. 

If you are not leaving the house you probably don’t have to worry about washing your hair. Unless someone in your house has the virus.

But, if you do go outside if you wanted to be ultra safe you should wash your hair.

It’s unlikely that you can spread the virus through it getting on your hair. You’d have to get it on your hair, then touch your hair, then touch your face, and that just isn’t a very efficient way to pick it up.  However, at least one healthcare expert says you should. Dr. Adam Friedman, the interim chair of dermatology at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, recommends daily hair washing during this pandemic.

Question 2 – Carolina asks – Hi Beauty Brains! Why is it that some permanent hair colors say that they are not for covering gray hair? I have been using L’oreal’s Feria, and it seems to cover my gray– though honestly, I don’t have a ton of gray yet. But I’m over 40; the writing is on the wall! I noticed that on the Loreal website, they recommend other lines (Superior Preference and Excellence) for covering gray. In general, what is different about dyes that are recommended for covering gray hair? I’m interested in using the least damaging product that works. Thanks!

Gray coverage occurs through a few mechanisms in hair color, but in speaking to the Feria and other L’Oreal products specifically…

Question 3 – Kara says – Hi there, I recently listened to your episode that addressed whether you could get ingredients of a “higher quality” which I found really interesting. I have read from some brands that they can justify a higher price point because of the “technologies” they use on the product rather than the ingredients. For example, a company might decrease the size of a hyaluronic acid molecule so that it can penetrate deeper into the skin and therefore be more effective. Is this true?

They can get patents on ingredient blends or even ingredients. L’Oreal has a patented sunscreen.  They can get different suppliers which might have higher “quality”  As a consumer though you can’t know. Any company can get access to most any other technology.

Question 4 – Hello Team, I recently started following you all. [I] thoroughly appreciate all the info you provide. My questions – how beneficial is carnauba wax for hair? Does it have a detrimental effect on hair? Having curly hair, I see this often in products I use. I’m curious because I also see it listed in my Meguire’s car wax too. Thanks, Glo.

Carnauba wax is a wax derived from a palm tree, Copernica cerifera, native to northeastern Brazil. The Dutch first talked about this tree in 1648, providing the first written description of the tree’s properties. The wax is harvested by plucking the leaves from the tree, drying it, and then beating the wax from the dried leaf. Some leaves are left on the tree to preserve the trees for the following season. The wax procured from the leaves is composed of free fatty alcohols and esters. It has one of the highest melting points of natural waxes used in personal care, with a melting point of 81-86ºC.

There are three grades of carnauba, each having to do with the purity of the wax. Typically the lightest color wax is used in personal care formulas. The high melting point provides formulations with the advantage of thermal stability, as it helps raise the overall melting point of a formulation. Carnauba wax is used in products where the product needs to be stiffer, thicker, or have better pickup. It’s also a good film-former, so it helps increase the shine of a product. That’s why you’ll fine carnauba wax in a floor or car polish, as well as candles, greases or other protective coatings. It also adds a little emolliency and skin protection properties. You’ll find it in lip balms for this purpose. 

A little carnauba is great in hair products because it can add some natural shine, but most importantly improve the rheology of your product. I can’t think if any negative impact on hair itself, other than it can be difficult to wash out of hair. However, I don’t think it’s used at such a high quantity that a good shampoo couldn’t get out of the hair.

Question 5 – Marius says – Does argan oil actually penetrate the hair shaft and does it do anything useful inside?

I haven’t seen any evidence that argan oil can penetrate hair. There was a study of coconut oil, sunflower oil and mineral oil to see how it affected hair. 

What are natural oils – Oils are combinations of fatty acids which have different lengths. Coconut oil is mostly C12, Sunflower oil is mostly C18 and mineral oil is mostly longer chain like C26 or more. Argan oil is mostly C18 so I’d expect it to behave most like Sunflower oil

At best it is going to coat the hair. It’s not going to significantly penetrate. Most products that use Argan oil use it as a claims ingredient. They rely on silicones to get the main benefits.

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