Keratec says that while anti-ageing products have historically concentrated on skin and the prevention of wrinkles, this concept can now be extended to hair care products to promote healthier, shinier hair that is protected against sunlight and other environmental hazards that can damage and prematurely age the hair.
Keratec IFP is derived from a unique keratin protein fraction, which the company claims is highly effective at maintaining the youthful characteristics of hair. The ingredient works by maintaining hair structure and condition, all the way from the root - where hair is generally in the best condition - to the tips.
It does this by forming a protective shield on the hair, sacrificing itself in the presence of environmental insults such as UV radiation and pollution, thus keeping the underlying hair healthy and youthful by protecting it from age related damage.
To test the efficacy of the ingredient against UVB radiation, the company contracted a research provider, Canesis Network Ltd, to conduct experiments involving tensile testing on human hair and tryptophan analysis by fluorescence spectroscopy. The amino acid tryptophan is destroyed by UV light and therefore a decrease in tryptophan is a recognised indicator of hair damage.
Treated and untreated hair was tested in natural sunlight and simulated UV conditions. Usage levels of Keratec IFP were 1 and 5 per cent in a conditioner base formulation supplied by Croda Chemicals Europe.
The study found that untreated hair fibres were progressively damaged by exposure to UV radiation. Damage to the hair cortex was evidenced by a decrease in the tensile strength of the hair. An observed depletion of the amino acid tryptophan on the surface of the hair indicated that surface damage had occurred.
However, when hair was treated with the Keratec IFP conditioner (using a rinse off protocol) the tensile strength was not adversely affected following exposure to UV radiation and remained similar to that of unexposed virgin hair. Furthermore the tryptophan levels were unchanged indicating that the Keratec IFP treatment protected the hair from UV damage.
Currently the global hair care segment remains the largest in the industry in terms of value, but in recent years market saturation has led to stagnation. Growth has tended to be driven by niche market products, such as specialist conditioners and niche hair styling products. Anti-ageing products, on the other hand, have represented the industry's biggest growth category for some years now.
In 2003 Euromonitor estimated that the global market for anti-ageing skin care treatments was $6.9 billion, a figure that was growing at 11.4 per cent a year. Further to this the category has witnessed double digit growth every year since 1998.
The fact that the baby boomer generation has more spending power than any other generation, combined with the growing fixation on youthful looks leads many industry experts to believe that the demand for anti-ageing products looks sustainable for the foreseeable future.
Although Keratec's claim to providing comprehensive protection for the hair against UV rays is not unique, it is certainly breaking into new ground on its claims to anti ageing - an area that could prove highly lucrative considering current market conditions.