Saturday, January 4, 2014

Stronger, more elastic hair with the power of beet sugar

When I think of the qualities of healthy hair strands, I would list them as the following:

+ Smooth, in tact cuticle layer
+ Adequate moisture levels
+ Adequate strength
+ High levels of elasticity

The last quality is something which has always been of interest to me.  Back in the day, when I would find long strands of hair from my co-workers, I'd stretch those hairs as far as I could to see how much it would require to break it.  Needless to say, those strands could withstand so much stretching it was unbelievable.  I could only imagine the amount of retention one could achieve with hair that flexible.

The next obvious thought was how I could increase the elasticity in my own hair.  Answers like "improve your moisture/strength levels" seemed like the right  solution at the time but, deep down, I wondered if there was something I was still missing.  Then I stumbled upon an interesting study  on increasing the tensile strength (elasticity) of hair using beet sugar!


Yes! A beet sugar derivative also known as betaine (trimethyl glycine).  Bleached hair was taken from Asian & Caucasian subjects and extended to see how much the strand would stretch before breakage occurs.  Kinda like what I used to do but a bit more scientific.  By the way, the Asian hair was double bleached because it's traditionally stronger than other hair types.  They washed the hair samples with a shampoo containing SLS and air dried.  The control group air dried without a leave-in product. The test group air dried with a solution containing 5% betaine solution.

Both types of hair experienced "a higher elastic extension" when exposed to stress after the betaine solution was applied.   European hair experienced an extension of 15-25% of it's initial length compared to that control group of hair without the leave-in.  Asian hair experienced a higher yield in break extension by 25% of initial length.  Overall, hair treated with betaine solution demonstrated improved hair strength, was less prone to fracture under stress and was described as less brittle.  What makes betaine work so well is it's affinity to water.  Betaine is said to help the hair better retain moisture.  It's actually naturally found in our hair, but in very small amounts. Chemical processes impact the availability of betaine in the stands so adding back into the hair is one step we can take to bring it back to it's natural strength levels.

15-25% additional elasticity sounds really exciting.  I immediately wanted to get my hands on some of this stuff so I went scouring online for commercial products with this ingredient.  I found some products with coca-betaine which is derived from coconut oil.  Not sure if this behaves the same in the hair as the beet version so I kept looking for the original source.  I did find a line called Shielo which has a leave in conditioner with betaine as one of the active ingredients.  And.....I also came up on some pure trimethyl glycine powder sold on Amazon.  I'll be picking up the betaine powder and adding to my leave-in spray bottle along with my deep conditioner.  They say it's highly water soluable so it should mix well in liquids.  There are some health benefits to betaine as well which is why it's available as a supplement.  I'll be adding it to my smoothies as well.




  1. If I remember correctly, the Burt's Bees Company had a beet shine shampoo a few years ago. I don't think they sell it anymore. I think they do mango shine now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm back. The shampoo was Burt's Bees Grapefruit and Beet Sugar and there use to be a matching conditioner.

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  3. These two conditioners both contain betaine:

    1. Infusium 23 Moisture Replenisher Conditioner
    2. Infusium 23 Repair & Renew Conditioner

    ReplyDelete
  4. So what is the exact measurement for a 5% concentration?

    ReplyDelete

 

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