When you have the curse of thin hair, the last thing you want is for other people to know. If you’re like me, you’ve tried to get the hair-do you pictures with tons of teasing, a haze of hairspray, and dozens of bobby pins only to end up with a frizzy, hard-as-a-helmet mess that a tornado couldn’t take down.
But Sebastian Professional made a product with that struggle in mind. If you can’t have naturally big, voluptuous hair, you can definitely fake it with Thickefy Foam by Sebastian Professionals ($17.50, amazon.com). Applied to damp or dry hair, the company claims the foam offers a thick appearance while remaining weightless.
And, better yet, after trying a sample that Sebastian Professionals sent over, I can say that it honestly worked for me.
The Pros and Cons of PVP
A popular and effective additive to cosmetics, Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), has been under scrutiny for its questionable toxicity. In 2012, Environment Canada (similar to the U.S. EPA) decided to categorize PVP as a “medium health propriety,” despite some arguing that other hair products might be more harmful (The Charleston Gazette). Because the numerous conflicting and inconclusive studies did not credibly prove that it was dangerous, the FDA decided not to ban PVP, despite concerns voiced by some environmental advocates. So, many companies — besides those claiming to be all-natural (hopefully) — are still using PVP, despite the uncertainty, because it’s a great styling agent.
PVP is a polymer that forms “clean, hard films” around each hair; these individual films temporarily bond to one another stiffening in the position desired (Rheological Properties of Cosmetics and Toiletries). PVP is an especially valuable ingredient in hair products because it is completely soluble, allowing for simple removal by shampoo and water (Draelos). According to Zoe Draelos, M.D., a clinical and research dermatologist, there are numerous benefits of PVP in hair care products. These include, but not limited to: lustrous appearance, detangling of wet hair, creating body and bounce, controlling static, and leaving no residue on the hair nor brush, she explains in her book Hair Care: An Illustrated Dermatologic Handbook.
One major drawback of PVP is its hygroscopic characteristic, meaning that it has the tendency to absorb moisture from the environment. After the moisture is absorbed the water “plasticizes the film causing it to lose strength and become sticky”, says Draelos, causing the hairstyle to “droop.” After this was discovered companies began using the more hydrophobic PVP/VA copolymer. This posed another problem: PVP/VA is not as soluble, making it difficult to remove from the hair. Eventually (fortunately for those of us using products with PVP in the present), the correct ratio of PVP to VA was studied and concluded to be 70:30 respectively (Draelos).
Tocopheryl Acetate: a Vitamin E derivative
Alpha-tocopherol is the only vitamin E antioxidant derivative that can be used by the human body. It is the substance contained in supplemental vitamin E (Oregon State). Tocopheryl acetate has a special characteristic that allows it to convert into alpha-tocopherol once it is ingested into the body. A nutritional professor at Oregon State, Maret Traber, Ph.D, explains, “…Alpha-tocopheryl acetate can penetrate through the skin surface and get to the living cells. About 5% of the amount that’s smeared on the skin is actually converted to the free tocopherol…” Although 5% seems small, antioxidant effects are dominant and can still give the hair a lot of shine and liveliness and also protect it from sun damage (Journal of Cosmetic Science).
Why not just use tocopherol? The advantage of incorporating tocopheryl acetate instead is its oxidative properties (Oregon State). Unlike tocopherol, tocopheryl acetate does not get oxidized allowing the product to have a longer shelf life.
Personal Use and Opinion
This stuff works. I have very thin, long hair that is usually slicked to my head unintentionally. My teasing comb was my best friend before I tried out Thickefy Foam by Sebastian Professionals. After each shower I towel dry my hair, pump a quarter size of foam into my palm and apply from roots to tips (as directions advise). The first time I used it I blow dried my hair and instantly felt my hair hold a style. Even when I straighten my hair it still has volume—no tease needed! Honestly, I was shocked. I continue to use it everyday and haven’t had a bad hair day yet. It doesn’t leave any greasy residue on the hair or scalp and as a bonus it holds curls longer and stronger.
Thickefy Foam by Sebastian Professional Contains ingredients to pump up the volume and give the hair a nice shine without leaving a greasy residue. While there are some concerns about PVP in hair care, the studies haven’t been conclusive about whether or not it causes issues. And many like dermatologist, Zoe Daelos, M.D., support the use of PVP in hair care products because it’s very effective for styling. And the addition of antioxidants in Thickefy Foam, in a form that won’t oxidize, doesn’t hurt either!
- Photo source: Maite Perroni Hair Style, a photo by Jean Nieves on Flickr. About the author: FutureDerm.com is proud to introduce Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D., on our staff as a Contributing Writer. Dr. Taha received her MD from Kuwait University in 2002, and a master’s degree in Dermatology from the University of Alexandria in 2010. …
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