Relief for Sensitive Scalps

By Guadalupe Pellon and Annette Mehling , BASF | February 2, 2017

BASF researchers detail the attributes of the company’s highly effective hair care system focusing on scalp sensitivity.

Prickling, burning and tingling sensations—these are some of the signs of a sensitive scalp. All can be caused by a wide variety of factors, such as excessive washing and drying of the hair, as well as exposure to irritants, UV radiation, heat, cold and wind. Various hair treatments can provide relief, depending on the cause or symptom. With this in mind, today’s hair care products do more than simply clean the hair. Whereas in 2006 only 8.3% of all hair care products launched made reference to scalp care, in 2014, 15.6% of products on the market incorporated scalp health benefits.

Healthy Hair from Root to Tip

With its Hair Care System for Women: Sensitive Scalp, consisting of Hey Honey shampoo, Keratin Gloss conditioner and 4 Essentials for Scalp serum, BASF provides the foundation for a comprehensive hair care range, the effectiveness of which has been proven in clinical studies.

To meet the needs of a sensitive scalp, Hey Honey shampoo is based on a mild, natural-based surfactant combination to ensure thorough but gentle cleansing and contains a selection of ingredients to help hydrate and sooth the scalp. Key ingredients are the nonionic surfactant Plantacare 818 UP, the lipid layer enhancer Lamesoft PO 65, and the honey-based emollient and soothing agent Melhydran LS 4420. Plantacare 818 UP provides the basis to deliver a well-balanced combination of foam volume and mildness, while Lamesoft PO 65 helps to replace skin lipids that have been washed away previously by harsh cleansing routines, therefore helping the scalp to maintain a healthy barrier. Melhydran LS 4420’s excellent soothing properties help relieve the symptoms typical of a sensitive scalp. Even the transparency of this shampoo emphasizes the softness of the formula.

Keratin Gloss conditioner offers a relaxing moment for stressed scalp and hair. Key ingredients are the thickener Cosmedia Ultragel 300, the emollient Cetiol CC, the consistency builder Cutina PES, the hair-identical protein hydrolysate Nutrilan Keratin W PP, the conditioning agent Dehyquart F 75 and Melhydran LS 9876. Cosmedia Ultragel 300 is a cationic polymer for rheology control that conditions the skin and hair and enhances the formulation’s sensory profile. The addition of the fast-spreading, dry emollient Cetiol CC further improves the sensory performance of the final formulation. The fatty acid ester mixture Cutina PES facilitates an excellent, smooth melt-on effect. Nutrilan Keratin W PP strengthens the hair shaft, replenishing the hair’s natural protein to reduce breakage, restore elasticity, rebuild tensile strength and add gloss.

Esterquat-based Dehyquart F 75 is a highly effective cationic conditioning agent. The soft, fluid character of this conditioner ensures an even distribution across the hair and scalp.

The 4 Essentials for Scalp serum helps reduce itching and tautness. Key ingredients are the naturally derived vitamin E acetate Copherol 1250C, which functions as an antioxidant for free radicals; Nutrilan Keratin W PP; Melhydran LS 9876; and d-Panthenol 75 W, a pro-vitamin of d-Panthotenic acid (vitamin B5). D-Panthenol 75 W also has anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects.

The effectiveness of BASF’s hair care system has been proven in clinical studies. First of all, tests were run using only the shampoo and conditioner. Next, the whole system was tested, including the rinse-off products and the leave-on serum.

Proof of Concept

Use test of the shampoo and conditioner: The effectiveness of the shampoo and conditioner was assessed in a clinical study with 30 female volunteers who suffered from itchiness, tautness and redness of the scalp. Among them, 23% claimed to have a very sensitive scalp; 73% a sensitive scalp and 3% a normal scalp. After one week of preconditioning, the volunteers applied shampoo and conditioner once daily for 28 days. The shampoo was gently massaged into the wet hair and scalp and rinsed off thoroughly. A pea-sized amount of conditioner was applied evenly on the hair, left on for two minutes and rinsed off thoroughly.

After four weeks of using both the shampoo and the conditioner, the volunteers reported and completed a questionnaire with closed dichotomous and multichotomous questions as well as Likert scales. The results were promising; 58% reported a lower frequency of tautness and 47% a lower intensity. In addition, 50% reported less frequent and 67% less intense scalp redness. Finally, 67% reported a positive effect on the frequency of itching and 58% reported less intense itching.

A different group of 30 female volunteers, with the same conditions, tested the effects of using the shampoo, the conditioner and the serum. Among these volunteers, 27% claimed to have a very sensitive scalp, 70% a sensitive scalp, and 3% a normal scalp. After one week of preconditioning, the volunteers applied the rinse-off products and the serum once daily for 28 days. The shampoo and conditioner were used as described in the previous test. Finally, drops of serum were massaged into the hair and scalp, in sufficient quantity to ensure full coverage.

After four weeks, the group of volunteers who used the combination of shampoo, conditioner and serum also reported positive effects: 85% perceived a lower frequency of tautness, while 75% perceived a reduction in intensity. In addition, 74% reported a decrease in redness and 68% in intensity of redness. Moreover, 65% reported a lower frequency of itching and 81% reported a lower itching intensity.

The results demonstrate that using all three formulations— shampoo, conditioner and serum—clearly improves the three aforementioned symptoms of a sensitive scalp: itchiness, tautness and redness.

In terms of benefits from using the products, the volunteers noted easy, even distribution; thorough cleansing and easy rinsing as the main qualities of the shampoo (90%).
They also reported the easy, even distribution of the conditioner and the serum (95%). In addition, the volunteers reported that using the conditioner and the serum left their hair feeling pleasant and easy to style. Overall, the volunteers perceived product properties as positive, with an overall rating of “good.“

BASF’s Hair Care Systems for Women: Sensitive Scalps provides manufacturers with a straightforward solution for adding significant scalp health benefits to their products.
Combined use of the shampoo, conditioner and serum has been proven to soothe sensitive scalps, helping to reduce itching, tautness and redness. In addition, the system is suitable for use in daily routines, as it leaves the user with hair that feels good and is easy to style.

What follows are several formulations that demonstrate the effectiveness of the BASF Hair Care System for Women: Sensitive Scalp:


Hey Honey Shampoo
Ingredients: %Wt.
Phase A  
Deionized water 68.67
Ucare JR-44 (Dow Chemicals) 
Phase B  
Dehyton PK 45 (BASF) 
(Cocamidopropyl betaine)
Texapon K14 S Special 70% (BASF)
(Sodium myreth sulfate)
Plantacare 818 UP (BASF) (Cocoglucoside) 5.00
Lamesoft PO 65 (BASF) 
(Cocoglucoside, glyceryl oleate)
Melhydran LS 4420 (BASF)  
(Honey extract)
Perfume Cotton Touch (Symrise)  0.30
Sodium benzoate  0.50
Arlypon TT (BASF)                                     
(PEG/PPG-120/10 trimethylolpropane)
Phase C  
Citric acid  0.53
Phase D  
Sodium chloride 0.30

Procedure: Mix ingredients of phase A in order given while stirring until completely homogeneous. Add ingredients of phase B in order given, stirring after each addition until completely homogeneous. Adjust pH by adding phase C. Adjust viscosity by adding phase D. The amount of phases C and D is approximate.

Specifications: pH value (23°C)—4.9; Viscosity (Brookfield, RVT, spindle 4, 10rpm, 23°C)—7,300mPas; Appearance—yellowish, clear.

Keratin Gloss Conditioner
Ingredients:   %Wt.
Phase A  
Deionized water  90.40
Phase B  
Cosmedia Ultragel 300 (BASF)(Polyquaternium-37) 1.50
Cutina PES (BASF) 
(Pentaerythrityl distearate)
Cetiol CC (BASF) 
(Dicaprylyl carbonate)
Dehyquart F75 (BASF) 
(Distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol)
Phase C  
Nutrilan Keratin W PP (BASF) 
(Hydrolzyed keratin)
Melhydran LS 9876 (BASF) 
(Aqua, butylene glycol, honey extract, glycerin, urea)
Sodium benzoate 0.30
Perfume Cotton Touch 0.30
Phase D  
Citric acid (50% sol.) qs

Procedure: Heat phase A and B to 80-85°C. Add A to B while stirring. Cool down while stirring to 30°C, then add phase C. Adjust pH using phase D.

Specifications: pH value (23°C)—4.0; Viscosity (Brookfield, RVF, spindle 5, 10rpm, 23°C)—17,200mPas

4 Essentials for Scalp Serum Drops
Ingredients: %Wt.
Phase A  
Eumulgin CO40 (BASF) 
(PEG-40 Hydrogenated castor oil)
Copherol 1250C (BASF) 
(Tocopherol acetate)
Perfum Cotton Touch 0.30
Phase B  
Deionized water 91.53
Nutrilan Keratin W PP (BASF) 
(Hydrolyzed keratin)
Melhydran LS9876 (BASF) 
(Aqua, butylene glycol, honey extract, glycerin, urea)
D-Panthenol 75W (BASF) 0.67
Glycerin 3.00
Phase C  
Sodium benzoate 0.50
Phase D  
Citric acid (50% sol.) qs

Procedure: Mix phases A and B separately. Add B to A and stir until homogeneous. Add C and adjust pH using D.

Specifications: pH value (23°C)—5.0 

For more information, contact the authors directly, Guadalupe Pellon, guadalupe.pellon@basf.com or Annette Mehling, annette.mehling@basf.com;
Websites: personal-care.basf.com and carecreations.basf.com

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