The effect of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) on protein loss was studied. Three kinds of human hair were tested by rubbing or immersion in water or immersion in SDS solution, at 25, 40 and 70 degrees C. Under friction, hair treated with SDS solution loses seven times more protein than in water, while by immersion, protein loss is roughly two times higher in SDS than in water. Protein loss increases at higher temperatures. Estimated activation energy values for protein loss by immersion are 69+/-22 kJ mol(-1) for blended brown hair; 40+/-12 kJ mol(-1) for blond hair (tip-end region) and 61+/-4 kJ mol(-1) for blond hair (root-end region) for samples treated in water, while 53+/-8, 7+/-5 and 32+/-8 kJ mol(-1) were the corresponding activation energy values for samples treated in 5% SDS solution. These values indicate that protein loss is mainly a diffusion-controlled process. The more damaged the hair, the lower the activation energy and the higher the protein loss. From these data, it can be estimated that daily care shampooing at room temperature will cause opacity and combing difficulties in 1 year and split ends after 3 years by removal of all cuticle layers.