Skinification of Hair Care

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A new trend in hair care is here- ‘skinification’. Hair care has started adopting some of skin care’s practices, such as using less harsh chemicals, applying more beneficial ingredients, and taking on procedures associated with skin care to the scalp. Join us as Dr. Azi breaks down this trend and why it might be worth incorporating into our routine…

Where did this trend come from?

Dr. Azi believes this trend stemmed from the “self-care movement” that’s really taken off in the past year. The challenges brought on by the pandemic significantly impacted not only our skin, but also our hair. “I’m seeing more hair loss in my practice now than ever before perhaps because people are paying more attention to their hair and scalp in addition to the impact of stress on hair growth”, says Dr. Azi. There’s also more information available to raise awareness of haircare. We are emerging with a renewed sense of priority to take better care of our health and well being. We're looking at beauty holistically and healthy hair plays a big role!  

Can haircare affect our face skin, too? 

Absolutely! Given the skin is one large organ, applying shampoo to the scalp means it will come into contact with facial skin. If you have a lot of skin sensitivities and you’re using a fragrant shampoo or one with a high amount of sulfates then you may notice skin irritation or worsening breakouts.  

What procedures ,that are initially for the face, are moving their way onto the scalp?

Regenerative medicine started with the face and moved onto also dominating scalp therapy. This includes exosome therapy, stem cell, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for hair growth. Exosomes are like powerful bubbles released by regenerative cells such as stem cells to help repair, regenerate, and regrow hair.  They contain a high amount of growth factors and also enhance the way our cells talk to each other which is essential for overall hair health. Stem cells derived from fat used in the scalp may help activate hair follicles that are sleeping, encouraging them to grow. Although bone, blood, and fat are also the sources of stem cells, doctors consider adipose tissues the richest source for hair restoration. Stem cell therapy is still in its infancy and needs more research to develop, but early studies are promising. PRP is often combined with the above therapies to keep the hairs growing in the anagen phase, the growing phase, longer.

Which skin care ingredients are similarly beneficial for hair?

We’re seeing more sophisticated formulas used in hair care that have traditionally been used in skincare. Squalane, a high performing emollient for the face is now being applied to hair care products. Hemi-squalene mimics our skin’s own natural oils. It’s lightweight and absorbs quickly.  It’s used in hair care products to reduce frizz, add shine, and protect the hair.   I see it as the new “IT” ingredient as part of the “skinifcation of hair” beauty trend. 

Hyaluronic acid, traditionally used to plump and hydrate our face, is also being applied to the scalp and hair. As a powerful humectant it has similar benefits in hair and scalp care. It helps seal the cuticle thereby reducing frizziness and as a humectant it plumps the roots for added volume. It’s ability to bind moisture also helps retain the balance of proteins and lipids required to further strengthen hair strands. Hyaluronic acid is best applied to the scalp and hair prior to shampooing or applied to damp or wet hair.  Hyaluronic acid thrives when there’s plenty of water to grab in order to maximize hydration. It also plays well with oils or keratin based products to aid in repairing dry or damaged hair.  

 Which ingredients should we avoid for our hair?

It’s overwhelming for the consumer to understand what makes a hair ingredient beneficial or harmful.  There are so many terms out there like natural or clean, or sulfate-free. But many of these so-called “bad” hair care ingredients are actually not that bad. Sulfates for example have the reputation of being linked to cancer, but there’s actually no scientific proof behind the claim.  Their true risk is irritation and drying out the scalp because they strip the hair and scalp of natural oils. If you tend to have sensitive skin or dry skin then it’s best to avoid them or choose a sulfate free option.  Since sulfates in shampoos are the most efficient way to cleanse the hair then it may not necessarily be bad for someone without sensitive skin, but with oily scalp or hair with a lot of build up. 

Silicones on the other hand, I suggest avoiding due to the buildup they cause on hair.  They're a popular ingredient to reduce frizz and boost shine, and they help with heat protection. However,  silicones can leave a residue on the hair that builds up over time.  It can weigh down the hair and even block follicles so I suggest avoiding silicone based products and instead opt for one with Hemisqualane which shows similar benefits without the buildup.

And lastly formaldehyde! Try to skip if possible as it can be harmful especially in high doses.

 Dr. Azi’s personal recommendations:

Great leave in-serum formulated with 6 oil blend and hyaluronic acid to control frizz and smooth medium to thick hair.

Great lightweight option for dry or chemically treated hair.  HA combined with plant oils rich in antioxidants it protects hair from environmental stressors and seals in moisture.

Fragrance free and Sugar-derived squalane and Hemisqualane is great for sensitive skin. It provides color and heat protection, reduces frizz, and keeps hair smooth.

For smoothing and heat protection.

Plant derived formulation with Rosemary oil, niacinamide, Aloe Vera, caffeine, tumeric, and Procapil.  

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Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, MD is a Board-Certified Dermatologist.

Specializing in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Shirazi received her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University Of Kentucky College of Medicine. After doing a Research Fellowship at Harvard Medical School at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, she completed her residency training in Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in addition to completing her training in dermatology and cosmetic surgery at the University of California San Diego.

She has received multiple research scholarships from iconic institutions including Harvard University and the University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and has several peer-reviewed publications to her name.