Incubatory environment of the scalp impacts pre-emergent hair to affect post-emergent hair cuticle integrity

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To determine whether the oxidative stress transmitted to newly grown hair from an unhealthy scalp has physical consequences to the cuticular condition and function.


A uniquely designed 24-week clinical study included 8 weeks of pretreatment with a cosmetic shampoo and 16 weeks of treatment with either a potentiated zinc pyrithione (ZPT) antidandruff shampoo or a placebo cosmetic shampoo. This clinical design allowed the growth and acquisition of hair samples under conditions of varying but known scalp health as a result of treating a dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis (D/SD) population. Two complementary methods were used to characterize the integrity of the cuticular surface. Hair surface hydrophobicity was assessed by quantifying water wetting force using a Wilhelmy balance method. Surface structure and porosity were assessed using dynamic vapor sorption (DVS) to gravimetrically quantify water sorption.


Chemical oxidative stress to pre-emergent hair has been shown to have negative consequences to hair surface structure. Compared to a placebo shampoo control, use of a potentiated ZPT shampoo improved scalp health and significantly improved the following attributes associated with healthy hair: hair surface hydrophobicity (surface energy) and cuticular moisture barrier effectiveness (dynamic vapor sorption).


Pre-emergent hair can be negatively impacted by the oxidative stress that occurs with an unhealthy scalp, possibly due to metabolic activity of resident microbes. Manifestations of the oxidative stress include altered cuticle surface properties that are responsible for its protective function; these effects are similar in type to those observed by bleaching post-emergent hair. These alterations have the potential to make the hair, once emerged from the scalp, more susceptible to the cumulative physical and chemical insults responsible for hair feel and look, fiber integrity, and overall retention.

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