Hair shine and colour vibrancy: a unique methodology to validate hair care formulations

Luscious, shiny hair is at the top of most consumers’ wish lists when it comes to their beauty care routine. Hair shine and colour vibrancy are important visual indicators to consumers that their hair is in good condition, with dull, lacklustre tresses not a desirable look. As a result, consumers are driven to purchase hair care formulations that promise to enhance the shine and overall appearance of their hair. But how do these parameters equate to healthy hair and how can they be quantified?

This next blog in our “Art of Hair” series will explore the characterisation of shiny hair, factors that can impact the visual appearance of our tresses and the ways in which hair care ingredient suppliers can validate their performance to deliver cosmetic formulations that offer this important benefit.

young woman pink hair care formulation

The term “shine” represents the ability for light to reflect off a surface and therefore depends on two important parameters: the surface and the light. Hair shine relates to the interaction of light with the hair surface; the more light that is reflected from the hair surface results in a hair tress that appears shinier. There are many factors that can influence shine, as this attribute is closely linked to the hairs surface properties. Let’s explore some examples:

Cuticle condition
The fundamental factor that influences hair shine is the condition of the hair cuticle. Cuticles that are less damaged appear flat and smooth and are able to reflect light more easily, resulting in a shinier hair surface. A damaged hair surface can feel rough and present split ends due to raised cuticles. This means that the hair surface is not able to reflect light as easily, and therefore makes the hair appear dull.

Natural hair morphology
Hair fibre alignment is another important factor when it comes to hair shine. Dense, well-aligned hair fibres are able to reflect light more easily and therefore generate more shine. This is why straighter hair types generally appear more naturally shiny. Curly and coily hair types have areas of discontinuity in the cuticle layers due to the kinks and twists that naturally occur along the hair fibre, which makes it harder for light to be reflected. Even with a smooth hair surface, curly hair is inherently less shiny due to the natural shape of the hair and the inability to align in the same way as straighter hair types. As shine is often synonymous with healthy hair, this has often led to the use of relaxer systems for curlier hair types, in an effort to achieve straighter, more aligned tresses. But this treatment is particularly damaging and with repeated use can ultimately damage the hair surface and reduce hair shine once again.

Hair colour
Whether it be natural or artificial, hair colour influences the way in which light can be reflected by the hair and therefore influences shine. Darker hair colours are inherently shinier as they reflect more light than they absorb, whereas lighter hair colours absorb light which causes less light reflection and therefore less shine.

With many consumers often choosing to dye their hair, whether it be for natural hair colour maintenance or as an outlet for self-expression, the desire for long-lasting, vibrant hair colour transcends all consumers. Hair vibrancy is defined as a vivid, bright and striking colour, and is key to the perception of a good hair colour. Colour vibrancy takes shine and colour into account, so when hair colour begins to fade or hair appears less shiny, this can prompt consumers to dye their hair again in an attempt to inject life back into their dull tresses. But as we know, this is a damaging styling practice. Inflicting more damage on the hair is not the answer when we want shinier hair; as we learnt earlier, damage to the hair cuticle can negatively impact hair shine. So, what is the answer? Let’s first understand how to quantify hair colour vibrancy.

Colour vibrancy is notoriously difficult to measure on the hair, so Croda has developed a unique methodology to quantify the vibrancy of hair, known as the Hair Colour Vibrance Factor (HCVF). By utilising the SAMBA system from Bossa Nova Vision, the HCVF considers two defining parameters for vibrancy: lustre and chroma.

Lustre relates to the shine and is defined as the first, initial reflection of light from the hairs surface.

Chroma relates to the colour, which is identified from the second reflection of light that is reflected after light penetrates the hair fibre.

hair shine colour vibrancy hair tress

The Hair Colour Vibrance Factor is defined as:

hair shine colour vibrancy equation

L stands for lustre and is the shine index that is determined using Bossa Nova’s Samba system.

The graph below shows the shine and chroma values measured by the SAMBA system, and the Oc which is the overlapping coefficient, determined by the percentage overlap between the lustre and chroma values.

hair shine colour vibrancy graph

The level of overlap will influence the vibrance factor, with a greater overlap resulting in a higher vibrance factor, and therefore a more vibrant colour. Shine is a major contributor to the HCVF equation, so an improvement in shine would infer an improvement in the Hair Colour Vibrance Factor too. If you are interested to learn more about this test and how this can be used to quantify hair shine and colour vibrancy, take a look at the video at the end of this blog, where our hair care team in Singapore explore this particular methodology.

The Hair Colour Vibrance Factor highlights how we can evaluate hair shine, colour vibrancy and the appearance of both natural and dyed hair. But how can these healthy hair indicators be enhanced?

We mentioned earlier that a lack of shine could be attributed to a rough, dry hair surface. This can be as a result of damaged inflicted on the hair surface as a result of grooming practices and other damaging treatments. Conditioning treatments are essential in order to maintain a smooth hair surface and to help prevent further hair damage. Take a look at my previous blog here where I talked more about the importance of hair conditioning. Hair products that are also able to repair signs of damage on the hair surface are key, helping to seal lifted cuticles for a smoother, shinier hair surface which will also prevent future hair damage.

I hope you enjoyed the latest blog in our hair care series, look out for my next blog where I will explore the booming scalp care market and why the maintenance of a healthy scalp is essential for healthy hair.


Inside the lab: focus on SAMBA imaging system

Inside the lab: focus on SAMBA imaging system

Inside the lab: focus on SAMBA imaging system