Hair Care Products & Heat Styling Devices Seminars

15:30 - 16:00

KEYNOTE – Virtual Screening of the Tribology of Hair Care Formulations

Shampoos and conditioners form part of many people’s daily routine. These complex formulated products aim to cleanse and repair the hair surface to maintain a satisfactory look and feel. Huge volumes of these products are sold every year and the global hair care market is valued at close to $100B. There is currently a industry-wide drive to improve the environmental credentials (e.g. biodegradability, biocompatibility, and sustainability) of hair care products, without compromising their performance. Molecular simulations are seen as an important tool with which to reduce the cost and increase the speed of R&D towards more eco-friendly products compared to laboratory-based methods and panel testing. In this talk, I will present a coarse-grained molecular dynamics framework to study adsorption, wettability [1], and friction [2] of hair care ingredients on biomimetic hair surfaces. I will present results for simple surfactants [3], polymers, and polymer-surfactant complexes [4]. Ongoing work to generalise the methodology to enable virtual screening of the performance of potential new hair care ingredients and formulations will also be discussed.


[1] Weiand et al., Soft Matter, 2022, 18, 1779 (
[2] Weiand et al., Nanoscale, 2023, 15, 7086 (
[3] Weiand et al., PCCP, 2023, 25, 21916 (
[4] Weiand et al., ChemRxiv, 2023 (


16:00 - 16:30

The Human Hair Follicle Cycle Exogen Phase

Hair is closely linked to feeling of health, wellbeing, and beauty, and is the ultimate tool of self-expression. Problems associated with hair growth and loss include: a reduction in follicle density; follicle miniaturisation resulting in weaker and finer hairs which break more easily; thinner hair fibres leading to feeling of reduced volume; slower hair growth; and excessive shedding. The human hair follicle is a regenerating biological system whose primary function is to produce a hair fibre. The hair growth cycle consists of 3 key phases: growth (anagen), regression (catagen) and rest (telogen), which occur continuously throughout the follicle lifetime. During catagen, the growing fibre produced in anagen becomes detached from the follicular matrix and is subsequently referred to as the ‘club fibre’. The club fibre eventually sheds from the follicle in a process termed exogen.
A multitude of underlying biological pathways and signalling molecules control the different phases of the human hair follicle cycle. The vast majority of hair biology research, spanning several decades, has focused on the hair growth cycle, whilst little attention has been devoted to studying the mechanisms involved in exogen. Understanding the factors that control exogen may shed light on routes to mitigate excessive hair shedding. Reports support the role of protease enzymes such as serine proteases in the mechanism of action during hair shedding. Retention of the club fibre in the follicle is thought to involved enzyme inhibitors such as plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2 [1] and tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease 3 [1].
We have confirmed expression of serine proteases around the human hair follicle, in addition to confirming protease activity in the material extracted from human club fibre bulbs. Furthermore, we have shown inhibition of protease activity in vitro in club fibre bulb extracts using known serine protease inhibitors. In this presentation we will aim to showcase the vital role these enzymes play during hair shedding, and how inhibition of excess levels offers a potential means for retention of club hairs, and consequently a reduction in excessive hair fall.

[1] Lavker RM, Risse B, Brown H, et al., Localization of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2 (PAI-2) in hair and nail: implications for terminal differentiation [J]. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 1998, 110;917–922.
[2] Higgins CA, Westgate GE, Jahoda CA. Modulation in proteolytic activity is identified as a hallmark of exogen by transcriptional profiling of hair follicles [J]. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2011, 131:2349–2357.


16:30 - 17:00

Thermal Damage to Hair: Measurement & Perception

Heat-styling of hair is an established and popular consumer habit, exploiting the well-known thermally-induced glass transition in hair fibres to plasticise, re-shape then re-set the hair. Whilst the hair fibre glass transition itself is reversible, the application of heat to hair fibres can also cause irreversible configurational and chemical changes, ultimately leading to degradation of the structure of the hair fibre. Colloquially, this is referred to as heat damage, which is now the focus of significant consumer awareness and concern. In this presentation we discuss the selection of a preferred method for quantifying thermal damage to human hair based on considerations of sensitivity, robustness and physical relevance. We also discuss the utility of these measurements to the consumer with particular emphasis on the need to provide sound scientific guidance to those seeking to achieve fantastic styling results without suffering from perceivable detrimental effects of thermal damage to their hair.