We are delighted to share our exclusive interview with Alison Pawlus, Aveda’s Principal Scientist, who talks about the science of hair and explains how you can make your hair younger than its biological age.
What is meant by the term ‘skinification of the hair’?
When we use the term ‘skinification of hair’ we’re referring to using powerful, skincare inspired ingredients that target the scalp and hair and provide visible results. This also means using multi-benefit product and treatment regimens that address more than just one hair concern or need of our guests. Aveda’s new Scalp Solutions range is the perfect example of the ‘skinification of hair’ brought to life as the powerful treatments are powered by biotech naturals skincare science that visibly transforms hair from the source.
How can we apply scientific rigor to our haircare?
Many people may not know that some hair care products are informed by years of scientific research and testing. The Aveda Scalp Solutions franchise is backed by research from world-leading scientific authorities in scalp biology, which included 8 years of scientific research and 13 clinical studies. We used this collaborative research program to guide our ingredient research and selection. One of the biggest surprises to us was seeing significant changes in the scalps of women earlier than we had expected. We saw visible changes occurring in women in their mid-to-late 30s. Our team at Aveda specializes in the chemistry and biology of high-performance botanical actives; for example, we evaluated over 1000 ingredients to determine which antioxidants to include in this formula! Our research on adaptogens, antioxidants, and other ingredients, and the incredible results we obtained, continue to confirm our belief in the high-performance nature of ethically sourced, scientifically validated, natural ingredients.
How can you avoid premature ageing of the scalp?
Premature scalp aging can be caused by a multitude of factors, even simply prolonged sun exposure. Like the skin, the scalp ages with time and can be impacted or damaged by these lifestyle and environmental aggressors. Keeping the scalp hydrated is an important factor in scalp care, as dry scalps are more susceptible to damage, which can lead to visible signs of premature scalp aging. Aveda’s Scalp Solutions collection is dermatologist tested, formulated to increase scalp hydration, and instantly remove surface pollution and product build up for rejuvenated, radiant, healthier looking scalp and hair.
How do you avoid sebum building up in your hair?
Adequately cleansing on a basis best suited for your hair and scalp type, and lifestyle, is a good first step in avoiding or reducing sebum build up. Also including specific products into your haircare regimen like Aveda’s Scalp Solutions Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, which is clinically tested to reduce sebum without disrupting the scalp barrier, is another way to maintain a healthy scalp state.
What kind of damage does pollutants have on your hair and how can you protect yourself from this?
Pollutants and other environmental factors act as stressors to the scalp which lead to premature scalp aging, and in turn, can lead to negative effects on the hair. This scalp aging can impact the look of hair for multiple reasons. For example, the sebaceous glands that keep the hair glossy and shiny become less effective with age, which can result in dry, brittle, thinning hair that lacks luster and is prone to breakage. Also, as the scalp ages, there can also be a reduction in nutrient delivery to the hair follicle, making it harder to produce a youthful looking hair throughout one’s lifetime.
How do you know what is the right amount of cleansing you should do on your hair?
The scalp acts as the protective barrier and is exposed to a number of environmental stressors, including particulate matter and ozone that drive premature aging. Therefore, adequate cleansing of the scalp – not too much or not too little – is important. The amount of cleansing needed can depend on multiple factors, such as amount of sebum produced or exposure to irritants. These can vary by age, gender, time of year, and where you live. Generally speaking, if you are washing your hair daily with a highly clarifying shampoo and your scalp feels tight or is sensitive, then you are most likely over-washing. That scalp tightness is due to the removal of scalp barrier lipids, and this barrier is important for long-term healthy scalp. Conversely, if you are washing less frequently with a heavily depositing shampoo, you may not be adequately cleansing your scalp. One frequent symptom of this is scalp itch and irritation. In this case, you may want to rotate a more cleansing shampoo into your routine, or use a product like Aveda’s Scalp Solutions Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, which provides gentle yet effective exfoliation before you wash. If you can’t cleanse more frequently, then adding a product like Aveda’s Scalp Solutions Refreshing Protective Mist is a great choice for use between washes that offers all-day antioxidant protection and 48-hour sebum control!
Tell us about oxidative stressors on your hair and the effects and how to avoid them.
We are exposed to oxidative stressors at various degrees all throughout our life, including the sun, ozone, pollutants, and even by-products from our own microbiome; it is impossible to avoid them all together. Our scalp continually produces sebum, which is the “first line of defense” against these stressors. Sebum includes compounds called triglycerides, squalene, and even antioxidants like vitamin E. Some of these compounds can be metabolized by our scalp’s microbiome or depleted; or they can be oxidized by ozone or other extrinsic stressors into potentially irritating molecules. A build-up of these molecules can disrupt our scalp barrier and lead to increased oxidative stress and inflammation causing premature scalp aging, which in turn can result in dry, brittle, thinning hair that lacks luster and is prone to breakage. Maintaining a healthy scalp barrier through proper cleansing, appropriate treatment regimens, reducing direct UV exposure, and supporting the scalp’s protective antioxidant defenses over time is crucial to scalp health and slowing the scalp aging process.
Apart from good products, what can you do to enjoy healthier hair than its biological age?
The hair follicle is a highly metabolically active organ and requires sufficient nutrients to produce a healthy hair fiber, including protein and iron. A well-balanced diet, sufficient in all the macro and micronutrients is highly recommended. Staying active has also shown to have a wide range of health benefits relevant to skin and hair health, including stress reduction and improving circulation.
While it is tempting to hope that one or two specific fruits or vegetables can promote healthy hair, there isn’t enough scientific support for any one food but rather a more holistic health and wellness routine.
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