Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a fatty acid derived from coconuts, commonly used in hair care products and treatments. Rich and hydrating, it’s considered a surfactant: a blending agent that helps liquids emulsify or foam. When applied to the scalp, it leaves behind a moisturized feeling after rinsing. Yet, upon closer inspection, research has linked the conditioning effects of Betaine to improved hair growth. As a result, countless treatment products for balding contain betaine, a proven ingredient to help repair scalp tissue.
To heal symptoms of balding or alopecia, Betaine works by providing four key benefits to the scalp: 1) moisturizing, 2) cleansing, 3) disinfecting, 4) strengthening and 5) toning.
Betaine Moisturizes The Scalp
A healthy scalp needs to stay hydrated to function normally. When hair follicles are dehydrated, dandruff can develop, which blocks the pore and interrupts its normal growth cycle. Betaine prevents the accumulation of dandruff by keeping the surface of the scalp moist.
Based on a 2018 study by the Center for Dermatology and Hair Diseases, University of Zurich, Wallisellen, Dr. Ralph M Trüeb found that baldness or alopecia can be triggered by scalp dryness. “The hair appears to be impacted prior to emergence, and oxidative stress appears to play a role in premature hair loss,” Ralph M Trüeb reports. To address the issue, the addition of moisture from Betaine helps create a barrier between the hair follicle and the unfriendly bacteria or other external impurities.
Betaine treats the root of the problem by attracting water to the hair follicles. When these follicular cells are properly lubricated, the scalp will not dry out and produce excess dandruff, which would suffocate and injure the pore. As a result, by preventing a build up of pathogens and oxidative stress, the hair follicle remains disinfected and healthier with the use of Betaine.
Betaine Cleans The Scalp
Since Betaine is a surfactant, it helps penetrate, loosen and trap impurities from inside the follicles. On a daily basis, the follicles become congested with various contaminants from the atmosphere, including pollution, allergens, free radicals and germs. The accumulation of these scalp stressors leads to infection and inflammation, leading to poorly functioning growth cycles in the hair follicles. These cleansing action unblocks grime that clogs the hair follicles, leaving them clear to grow hair.
According to a Scientific paper published by Dr.Paul A Cornwell from Princeton University, surfactants such as Betaine are highly versatile cleansing agents. It can dissolve the following types of impurities: “(1) sebum, (2) skin cell debris, (3) solid air pollutants and (4) hair product soils.” By purging these contaminants from the hair follicles with Betaine, the scalp stays clear from fungal infection and bacteria that inhibits hair growth.
Betaine Prevents Scalp Infection
In the event where the scalp does become infected, Betaine aids in combating the cause of inflammation. Due to Betaine’s surfectant properties, it prevents the scalp from developing condition called folliculitis, otherwise known as ringworm.
This disease is not a worm, but rather a fungal infection. The name, ringworm accounts for the way in which the skin produces red, ring-like circles around the hair follicles, often with flat centres and inflamed borders. Follicles that are infected by this condition are unable to continue with normal hair growth cycles. To help remedy this condition, the use of Betaine in hair treatment products aids in clearing excess fungi and impurities from the scalp.
By preserving a sanitary state for the scalp and hair shafts, Betaine is a common ingredient in solutions for balding.
Betaine Protects The Hair Protein Structure
Healthy proteins produce thicker and denser hair growth. Betaine protects the hair proteins by helping the keratin cells retain water, improving the volume and texture of the hair shaft. Moreover, the outer layer of the hair shaft becomes more durable and long lasting.
According to a study published by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, “hair fibres have no renewable protective mechanisms.” For this reason, thin or fragile hair shafts require additional support to maintain structure. Betaine provides extra reinforcement to weakened hair proteins, allowing the strands to grow fuller and longer.
With a stronger layer to shield the hair shaft, the strands are less prone to cuticle damage, according to Dr. Maria Fernanda from the Department of Dermatology in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Based on her research, the most important part of a strong hair cuticle is the cell membrane complex (CMC)– the glue-like material holding the hair protein cells to the cuticle and cortex cells. “The CMC and the endocuticle are very vulnerable regions to the chemical treatments such as bleaching, dyeing and hair straightening/perm procedures. Also, the everyday grooming and shampooing friction may disrupt the CMC.”
Working to reinforce the CMC, the use of Betaine in scalp treatments can prevent fractures to the hair fiber. Consequently, Betaine averts the thinning process by protecting the hair protein structure.
Betaine Tones The Elasticity Of Hair Proteins
By adding more moisture to hair proteins, Betaine keeps their structure more flexible. In Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine, Dr. Axe reveals in his article that “the addition of betaine to hair care products gives the hair more strength and hydration, as well as makes the hair shiny and more elastic.” Essentially, when the keratin cells retain more water, the hair shaft becomes more durable, capable of swelling and bending without cracking
On the other hand, when the hair shaft becomes too dry, the strands become fragile and can deteriorate over time. If this state continues, hair will become prone to breakage, leading to thinning areas on the scalp or bald patches. Gerald G. Krueger, MD, an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of psoriasis and hair loss with University of Utah Health Dermatology Services, studies this issue closely. “It’s important to catch signs early because once the hair follicle stops producing hair, it cannot recover,” Krueger says.
Thus, the moisture from Betaine aids in maintaining elasticity within the hair proteins, preventing excess shedding and breakage. Ultimately, in order to keep the hair texture smooth and pliable, Betaine preserves the integrity of the hair shaft to maintain better growth results.