Modern haircare products include a wide range of shampoos, conditioners, styling products and colorants. The chemistry of each product is complex and formulated to bring a specific cosmetic or medical effect, e.g. cleansing, anti-dandruff, shine, lustre and thickening. For example, a proprietary shampoo may contain cleansing agents (surfactants), conditioners, functional additives, preservatives, aesthetic additives and medically active ingredients.
Increasingly, the development of effective hair treatments relies on a detailed knowledge of the surface chemistry of the hair and the effect of the various ingredients of the formulation on hair structure, e.g. the effects of additives on the surface lipid structure is one area of ongoing investigation. The surface sensitivity and detailed chemical information available from X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) and Time-of-Flight SIMS (ToFSIMS) are well known and are now routinely applied to hair characterization problems. Although a typical human hair has a diameter of 60µm – 100µm it is now possible to obtain detailed molecular information from single hairs with microscopic detail as a result of advances in ToFSIMS technology.