16 May, 2005

So fresh, so clean

"Now with amino-proteins!" my shampoo (Pantene Pro-V) told me this morning in the shower.

"Don't be daft," I said. "What the hell is an amino-protein?"

After perusing the back of the bottle, I was reassured that my shampoo "penetrates and helps replenish the amino-proteins that are naturally found in hair but are lost over time."

Further down, I noted, in the list of ingredients, bold-faced, double-starred: Lysine HCL, Methyl Tyrosinate HCL, and Histidine. Pantene Amino-Protein Complex, the bottle declaimed proudly. "Oh!" I cried (in my mind), cottoning on. "You mean amino-acids!"

Clearly what had happened was that someone had, for whatever reason, decided that it was a good idea to include these revitalizing components in the shampoo. Hair is composed of two forms of keratin (alpha and beta), which form heterodimers and are quite strong, mostly because they are largely composed of the amino-acid cysteine, which contains a sulfide group that can be used to form strong, stable covalent bonds (disulfide bridges) between protein molecules. In other words, hair is composed of a fairly complex protein machinery, and "revitalizing" it with three simple amino-acids (the building blocks for proteins) makes about as much sense as doing auto repair by soaking your Honda in a warm bath of spark plugs and power steering fluid.

But let's be honest: all the real advances in hair care happened fifty years ago, when some guy realized that you could synthesize all the sodium lauryl sulfate you wanted down at the Dow Chemical plant in Wilmington. It's much harder for hair-care researchers these days to make breakthrough discoveries that would win them the Nobel Prize in Cosmetology. So you make shit up, so what?

And then, obviously some guy in marketing saw that some boob of a scientist had written "amino-acids" right on the front of the goddamn bottle. "Those crazy scientists!" he must have said, rolling his eyes and crossing out the word 'acids'. "They may have all that book-knowledge, but they just don't have common sense. No one is going to want to put acid in their hair! Come on!"

"Chee!" replied the bottle of shampoo, shining prettily.


I think what you really need to worry about is why your significant other/roommate/housekeeper/friendly neighborhood intruder is stocking your shower with such bizarre shampoo. :-) 

Posted by Saheli

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