Haircare Formulation Journey - How a Conditioner works?

Posted by Adiato Baldé on

A conditioner is a product most commonly applied to the hair after shampooing, to improve its condition.

Shampoos are designed to clean the hair, conditioners are formulated to nourish and condition the hair. After a condition treatment, the hair should be smooth, shiny and tangle free.

Conditioned hair has less static electricity, easier to comb and feels soften overall.

Conditioners can also vastly improve the dry and rough texture of chemically damaged hair.

How does it work?

The conditioner tasks are accomplished through 2 principal mechanisms.

The first one is by closing the cuticle cells with the right pH. To protect the hair cortex, by closing the cuticle cells, it requires an acidic pH. If the conditioner has an alkaline pH (also known as basic pH, ie, above 7), the cuticle will remain open and expose the hair to environmental factors and damage.

The ideal conditioner pH is in the acidic range, between 4 and 5, below 6.

The second mechanism is through a process called substantivity.

Hair has a negative change on the surface, which means that it will attract ingredients charged positively, something like two magnets with different polarity, they stick together. The more substantive an ingredient is, the more it will adhere to the hair and resist getting washed off.

Conditioners contain positively charged ingredients (surfactants and polymers) called cationic. They adsorb to the hair surface shaft (substantivity).

Why they adsorb and not absorb?

When a substance only sticks to a surface, it is said that it adsorbs to it.

When a substance penetrates into a surface, it is said that it has been absorbed.

This means that a conditioner will adsorb to the hair parts where the cuticle is damaged, because the negative charge is greater there.

It will then repair broken or missing parts of the cuticle.

Considering that a shampoo can remove the cationic charge of the conditioner, this “repairing process” will only stands until the next washing time.

We'll soon have a full haircare range, a shampoo, conditioner and a leave-in conditioner. 

Amir Cosmetics Founder, Adiato Baldé


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