For those of us who always wanted to spend money on expensive hair shampoos, but couldn’t really either afford it or justify the expense, a recently published study is most welcome news. It showed that the best shampoo for cleaning hair was actually not one of the top of the range salon brands, but in fact – L’Oréal’s Elvive Nutri-Gloss shampoo, costing a mere £3.99 a bottle.
Scientists at Cambridge University took 20 brands, including Philip B Russian Amber shampoo costing £100 for 355ml, Oribe’s Shampoo for Beautiful Colour at £35 for 250ml and L’Oreal’s Elvive Nutri-gloss Light shampoo which costs just £3.99 for a large bottle, and found that it was L’Oreal’s Elvive that came put on top.
Dr Colm Durkan, a researcher into nanotechnology, who carried out the tests, used most powerful microscopes, designed to measure nanoparticles, to test how clean the products left the hair shafts after use. He compared unwashed and washed hair, and tested how effective the different shampoos were at removing the tiny bits of dirt and grease found in our hair. He also looked at the roughness after the hair was washed, to gauge the amount of any chemical residue that was left behind.
The study revealed that L’Oreal Elvive left behind the smallest residues, which appear as ‘rough-looking deposits’ on shampooed hair. The average ‘roughness’ of hair washed in Elvive was 4.2 nanometres which is a billionth of a metre, as reported in the Sunday Times.
Compare this to the most expensive shampoo tested – the Philip B Russian Amber, which were shown to have left ‘significant residues’ with a roughness of 14.2nm while Oribe’s Shampoo for Beautiful Colour recorded deposits of 27.9nm.
However, not all the brands agree with Dr Dukan’s findings, and argue that cleaning the hair is just one part of what a shampoo is designed for. Philip B said its product was designed to deposit amino acids on hair and Oribe stated that cleaning hair was only ‘one element’ of a high-performance shampoo.’ A spokesman told the Sunday Times: ‘Adding moisture, treating the scalp and aiding colour retention are equally important.’
Dr Durkan told the Sunday Times: ‘A clean hair under the microscope looks like a smooth surface, whereas dirty hair is covered with particles of grease or dust.
‘What surprised me the most was that I couldn’t see any difference between what the most expensive shampoos do compared with other cheaper ones.’
Some hair brands were quick to point out that not all residues are a bad thing, as they could contain moisture enhancing elements or treatments to combat dandruff.
Oribe said: ‘Cleansing is only one element of a high-performance shampoo. Adding moisture, treating the scalp and aiding colour retention are equally important.’
And a spokesman for Philip B said its product deposits amino acids – building blocks of proteins – on the hair.
Chris Flower, of the trade body, the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, said: ‘These days the difference between shampoos is less about how effective they are at cleaning the hair and more about the additional benefits, which may be conditioning, protection from heat or other damage.
‘Measuring the roughness of hair or deposits left after cleaning is just a part of the story.’
A spokesman for market research firm Euromonitor International said recently: ‘In good times as well as in bad times, consumers do not stop buying and using shampoo, but they keep an eye on promotions such as “buy one for £3.50 or buy two for £5”.
‘UK consumers are keen on these kinds of offers, and they have proven successful.’