Chapter

Water Soluble Polymers

pp 231-244

Water-Soluble Polymers in Hair Care

Prevention and Repair of Damage During Hair Relaxing
  • Ali N. SyedAffiliated withAvlon Industries
  • , Wagdi W. HabibAffiliated withAvlon Industries
  • , Anna M. KuhajdaAffiliated withAvlon Industries

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Abstract

Alkaline hair relaxers used to straighten excessively curly hair, usually African-American hair, often cause considerable hair damage. One of the effects of straightening the hair with relaxers is a loss in tensile strength due mainly to breakage of disulfide and hydrogen bonds. This loss in tensile strength leaves the hair more susceptible to breakage and cuticle erosion from subsequent grooming. The damaging effects of relaxer treatment are not limited to disulfide bond breakage alone. Another cause of hair damage during relaxing is swelling of hair fibers during the highly alkaline treatment. During a conventional hair relaxer treatment, the hair swells by 50% or higher, and another 20% upon rinsing. When hair swelling is not controlled, the hair develops radial and longitudinal cracks again rendering the hair susceptible to breakage from combing and brushing. This study presents results on the application of cationic polymers to strengthen hair during relaxing, and non-ionic polymers which control hair swelling.