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L'Oreal looks to advance ethnic hair & skin: researchers gather in Chicago to hear the latest news on how to treat pseudofolliculitis barbae, damaged hair, acne, hyperpigmentation and a host of other issues that are important to ethnic consumers.

SEARCHING FOR A MARKET segment with real growth potential? Consider these statistics: approximately 35% of the U.S. population is non-caucasian and by 2050, non-caucasians are expected to account for 50% of the population.

Clearly, more research into ethnic hair and skin treatments is needed. In order to gain insight into these growing segments, L'Oreal recently teamed up with Howard University to sponsor their third international ethnic hair and skin care symposium. Leading scientists and dermatologists gathered in Chicago in September to discuss a variety of hair and skin care topics. L'Oreal's Victoria Holloway Barbosa, MD, MPH and Rebat Halder, MD, Howard University, served as co-chairpersons.

In her keynote address, Mikki Taylor of Essence, insisted that the mainstream media often paints an incomplete portrait of the ethnic consumer and that there is a real need for specialized cosmetics. Her views are in sharp contrast to the practices of many cosmetics companies which, in recent years, have eliminated entire ethnic cosmetic lines. Instead, they've added darker shades to their cosmetics collections for the general population.

Hair Advances

Alan Swift (Swift Hair Consultancy, UK) compared Asian, African and Caucasian hair, noting that there are clear differences in diameters and structural components of the keratin composite. However, the roll of genetics, biochemistry and structural effects on curliness are still a mystery, he observed. TEM images revealed that African-American hair has orthocortical and paracortical cells in the cortex. In contrast, Caucasian hair only exhibits paracortical cells. Furthermore, African-American hair includes twisted macrofibrils that requires supercontraction to straighten it.

Of course, curly characteristics are not exclusive to African-Americans. Sebastian Thibaut (L'Oreal France) explained that the curvature of curly hair is programmed from the basal area of the follicle and is due to the intrinsic asymmetric differentiation of all bulb compartments.

The natural shape of human hair is related to the molecular organization of proteins, reported Phillip Barbarat (L'Oreal France). In his research, the macroscopic shape of the fibers was optically analyzed against cross-section variations along the fiber axis. TEM techniques allow the visualization of the cortical cell distribution and the macrofibrils conformation versus the curl pattern.

A poster by Alain Franbourg and a team from L'Oreal, France summarized the water-keratin interaction in ethnic hair. African-American hair absorbs less water, at a faster swelling rate. The differences are due to the amount and nature of lipids in the hair.

Hair orientation analysis can be accomplished by Fourier transform image analysis reported Janusz Jachowicz (ISP, Wayne, NJ). He characterized the alignment and distribution of hair fibers untreated and treated with conditioners, styling aids and relaxers. Relaxers caused disorder in the alignment in African-American hair.

Clinical Research on Hair

According to speakers at the symposium, African-American hair contains more pigment, larger melanin granules, elliptical follicles, smaller diameter and a spiral appearance. Caucasian hair has ovoid follicles, intermediate diameter and wavy appearance. Asian hair is characterized by straight follicles, a large diameter and straight appearance. These differences may help to understand some of the unique issues related to ethnic hair care.

A major objective of cosmetic chemists continues to be the management of pseudofolliculitis, follicular degeneration and traction alopecia. Dr. Fran Cook-Bolden (Columbia University, New York) summarized this area affecting the ethnic population. Dryness and fracture have long been a source of frustration for consumers, patients, stylists and health providers.

There are diseases affecting ethnic hair and scalp related to grooming habits or other etiologies including but not limited to alopecias caused by physical/chemical agents (traumatic, follicular degeneration--hot comb, central centrifugal, traction) and infectious/inflammatory (acne keloidalis, folliculitis, dissecting cellulites, pustular dermatosis, tinea capitis, alopecia areata). The practice of evidence-based medicine can provide effective treatments and improve the overall well being.

The Latest in Hair Care Research

Black consumers can often go years without needing a haircut because regular combing often causes many fractures and breaks in the hair shaft, according to Nonhlanhla Khumalo (University of Capetown, South Africa). Using SEM techniques, his team found that Black consumers often have 10-16% more knots than European consumers.

Psychologist Angel Neal-Barnett (Kent State University, Ohio) detailed her experiences with trichotilomania, a compulsive pulling out of one's hair, which produces a pustular dermatosis of the scalp. Dr. Neal-Barnett studied the psychological impact of the malady on a group of female pullers before and after these episodes and learned that the pulling episode is related to a tension-reduction cycle and other emotions.

According to Douglas Shander (Gillette, Needham, MA) a major cause of pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) is that hair is only partially cut or totally missed during shaving. As a result, consumers end up with ingrown hairs and inflammatory lesions. Eflornithine seemed to affect the proportion of paracortical cells and cell proliferation by yielding an asymmetrical keratinization pattern in the follicle compartments, and further allowing to modify the curly hair shape. Dr. Shander and his team found that eflornithine (13.9% active in cream form) was an effective PFB treatment.

Dr. Susan Taylor (Society Hill Dermatology, Philadelphia, PA) presented another PFB treatment that involves a triple combination cream containing fluocinolone acetonide (0.01%), hydroquinone (4%) and tretinoin (0.05%). The treatment reduced inflammatory lesions, released ingrown hairs and lightened hyperpigmentation.

The speakers concluded that hair loss should remain an important topic for future research. Combing regimens and genetics both play a role in hair damage. Interestingly, David Cannell (L'Oreal USA) told the audience that South Africa is not a model for Afro hair due to a lack of proper product usage as well as limited access to warm water.

Advances in Skin Care

African skin is delicate and suffers under environmental stresses, including extreme temperatures and sun exposure. Pigmentation alterations are typical and a natural result of the body's UV defense mechanism. African skin, due to its high melanin content, provides natural SPF 13. Yet, pigment disorders are very common. Also, men suffer from razor bumps, a consequence of close shaving. Depilation creams are popular with consumers, but over time scarring is apparent.

Dermatologist Henry Lim (Henry Ford Hospital, MI) provided insight into pigment variations between consumer groups. While melanocytes are constant for all races, melanosomes are large and dispersed in keratinocytes in Afro-Americans, they are small and aggregated in Caucasians and well-dispersed in Asians. He also told the audience that protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR-2) is a valuable marker related to the skin color phenotype. Acute effects of UV include erythema, immediate and persistent pigment darkening, and delayed tanning.

Sunlight-induced vitamin D production also varies by ethnic group. For example, production is high in Caucasians and low in African-Americans. The lack of this vitamin is associated with bone fractures and other ailments.

According to Dr. Stephane Diridollou (L'Oreal, USA) aging signs like skin roughness and anisotropy are more pronounced in Caucasians than Hispanic, Asian and African-American. A non-invasive in-vivo capacitance imaging instrument was used to determine the skin topography in ventral and dorsal forearms.

Imaging methods were presented by Dr. Bernard Querleux (L'Oreal, France). Using ultrasound scanners and optical coherence tomography, researcher are able to measure morphological and physiological properties, including skin thickness and dermal/epidermal textures.

Dermatologist Abena Ofori (University of Michigan, MI) explained how a high dose of UVB/[A.sup.2]) (290-340nm) may be used to induce collagen remodeling in skin. From birth to old age, collagen begins to degrade, leading to increasing amounts ofmetalloproteinases (MMPs) and the inhibition of procollagen synthesis. It has been shown that this antifibrotic treatment is of great value for improving slerosing disorders of the skin including scleroderma and morphea.

According to dermatologist A. Paul Kelly (King Drew Medical Center; Los Angeles, CA) for years, African-Americans and other ethnic groups were excluded from pharmaceutical-sponsored research, and most clinical trials were conducted on Caucasian males. He discussed clinical diseases including mast cells/keloids, acne keloidalis, seborrheic dermatitis, basal cell carcinoma in Hispanics, melasma and warts.

Dr. Jean P. de Rigal (L'Oreal, France) explained that sebum excretion and the number of sebaceous glands is lower in Asians and Hispanics and higher in Caucasians and Afro-Americans. The normal decrease during aging is linear in Asians and drops at age 50 in the other groups.

A poster by Dr. Shahrzad Bakthian (L'Oreal, USA) summarized the effect that 5% vitamin C formula had on facial skin texture, pigmentation, skin complexion, enlarged pores and sallowness. All improved after the eight week treatment.

The incidence of skin cancer within the ethnic population was presented by dermatologist Ella Toombs (Dupont Circle PLLC; Washington, DC). Data suggests that, within the general population, 1 in 50 individuals will be diagnosed with melanoma by 2010. Yet, risk factors for non-caucasians remain unclear--the incidence of melanoma in African-Americans is just 7 in 100,000.

An Update on R&D

Karl Lintner (Sederma, France) provided details on diacetyl-nor-aporphines, novel molecules that inhibit melanogenesis in ethnic skin. These materials decrease the calcium flow in and out of the cell. Their performance is similar to kojic acid, without affecting cell viability, he insisted.

Relaxers are used by 70% of African-American women. But according to Dr. Robert Tackey (L'Oreal, USA), lye and no-lye types can induce the expression of some inflammatory mediators like cytokines and other neurogenic irritants.

Dr. Harold Bryant (L'Oreal, USA) reviewed sodium hydroxide and guanidine, two actives found in lye and non-lye relaxers, respectively. To reduce levels of irritation, stylists suggested that lye-based products may be better than no-lye products because contact time is shorter.

According to Dr. Rob Comber (Croda, USA) hair is weakened by repeated use of relaxers and permanent hair colors. His team measured hair strength in a flexabrasion experiment using a protein/polisiloxane polymer.

Cosmetic Procedures

For patients of color, common skin conditions are difficult to treat with conventional methods, said dermatologist Maritza Perez (St. Luke's-Roosevelt Medical Center). She described how lasers were used to treat Inflammatory acne (1540nm Erbium); acne scar with Cutera Genesis (14J/[cm.sup.2], 300ns, 5Hz); Lentigines, Melasma and Photodamge with StarLux pulsed-light system; Skin laxity and Loss of volume with Titan (40J/[cm.sup.2]).

Daily hair combing and styling can lead to the development of centrifugal alopecias, said Valerie Callender (Howard University; Washington, DC). The most common treatment is cortiscosteroids, but hair transplant surgery is also an option.

Dermatologist Melissa Bogle (Laser/Cosmetic Surgery; Houston, TX), detailed the benefits of using a 1540nm Erbium laser treatment for facial acne. She insisted that this method is superior to 1320nm Nd:YAG 1450nm laser with reduced hyperpignmentation risk from cryogenic cooling.

Dr. Karen Kim (Laser & Skin Surgery; New York, NY), a dermatologist, reviewed how fractional phototermolysis (Fraxel laser) improves acne scars by inducing collagen remodelling. Dermatologist Fasahat Hamzavi (Henry Ford Hospital; Detroit, MI), explained how the Nd:YAG laser is used to treat dissecting cellulites, a chronic inflammatory scalp condition and cicatricial alopecia. The procedures results in less pus, pain and dyspigmentation, and increases hair re-growth.

Cherie Young (Callender Skin/Laser Center; Mitchellville, MD), a dermatologist, reviewed how the combination of Nd:YAG laser/eflornithine and HC1 (13.9%) can be used to remove excess facial hair. The procedure also improved pseudofollicullitis barbae, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation and hirsutism.

About the Author

Maximo Panitch is managing director of Max Panitch Inc., a consulting company that provides development and communication services to the cosmetics industry. The company specializes in the Latin American markets. More info: Max Panitch Inc., 7434 Lowell Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076 (USA), Tel/Fax: 847-675-5231, E-mail: MPaniLEJON@AOL.COM
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Author:Panitch, Maximo
Publication:Household & Personal Products Industry
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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