UV-vis spectra as an alternative to the Lowry method for quantify hair damage induced by surfactants

Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2014 Nov 1;123:326-30. doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2014.09.035. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


It is well known that long term use of shampoo causes damage to human hair. Although the Lowry method has been widely used to quantify hair damage, it is unsuitable to determine this in the presence of some surfactants and there is no other method proposed in literature. In this work, a different method is used to investigate and compare the hair damage induced by four types of surfactants (including three commercial-grade surfactants) and water. Hair samples were immersed in aqueous solution of surfactants under conditions that resemble a shower (38 °C, constant shaking). These solutions become colored with time of contact with hair and its UV-vis spectra were recorded. For comparison, the amount of extracted proteins from hair by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and by water were estimated by the Lowry method. Additionally, non-pigmented vs. pigmented hair and also sepia melanin were used to understand the washing solution color and their spectra. The results presented herein show that hair degradation is mostly caused by the extraction of proteins, cuticle fragments and melanin granules from hair fiber. It was found that the intensity of solution color varies with the charge density of the surfactants. Furthermore, the intensity of solution color can be correlated to the amount of proteins quantified by the Lowry method as well as to the degree of hair damage. UV-vis spectrum of hair washing solutions is a simple and straightforward method to quantify and compare hair damages induced by different commercial surfactants.

Keywords: Cosmetics; Degradation; Melanin; Protein; Shampoo; UV–vis spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / adverse effects
  • Hair / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Melanins / chemistry
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate / adverse effects
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Surface-Active Agents / adverse effects*


  • Cosmetics
  • Melanins
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate