The value of hair cosmetics and pharmaceuticals

Dermatology. 2001;202(4):275-82. doi: 10.1159/000051658.


As early as can be traced, written documents testify endeavors shown by humanity to please by means of the hair. Hair care, color and style play an important role in people's physical appearance and self-perception. Dermatologists should be knowledgeable about the procedures people follow to look their best and should have the competence to provide patients with information on the benefits and hazards of hair cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Shampooing is the most common form of cosmetic hair treatment. The diversity of qualities expected from a shampoo by today's consumer surpass the primary function of cleansing. Current shampoo formulations are adapted to the variations associated with hair quality, hair care habit and specific problems related to the superficial condition of the scalp. Hand in hand, test methods are developed to evaluate the efficacy of hair care products so that consumers are offered products that perform as claimed. Through the development of cosmetics with pharmaceutically active compounds, products are evolving that are becoming more similar to topical therapeutic agents (cosmeceuticals). The efficacy of cosmeceuticals that claim to act as hair growth stimulants should be measured by the standards set by the drugs minoxidil and, more recently, oral finasteride. Finally, health hazards associated with the use of hair care products, especially rinse-off products, have been overemphasized by the media and need careful correction by opinion leaders.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / etiology
  • Hair Preparations* / adverse effects
  • Hair Preparations* / history
  • Hair Preparations* / standards
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans


  • Hair Preparations