Shampoos and Conditioners


Perming, relaxing, and coloring are the harshest things you can do to your hair from a chemist’s viewpoint. But shampoos and conditioners also take advantage of chemistry to get their work done. The job of shampoo is to clean the hair, so it’s not surprising that the main ingredient in nearly all shampoos is detergent. Detergents create an anionic, or negatively charged, solution when combined with water. Such a formula is good for cleaning hair by attracting positively charged ions, such as oil. But it also tends to ruffle hair’s outer cuticle, explaining why just-washed hair is often flyaway, unmanageable, and rather dull.To counteract these undesirable effects and smooth down the hair cuticle, people often follow a shampoo with a rinse of a cationic, or positively charged, solution. In years past, people used vinegar, lemon juice, or beer for this purpose. Such rinses made hair glossier and easier to comb, but they could leave hair smelling like a tossed salad or a brewery. Modern conditioners achieve the same results and also have a pleasant fragrance more appropriate for hair.One of the most important classes of conditioning agents is the quaternary ammonium compounds. These cationic substances help counteract static electricity and flyaway hair by binding to the anionic strands of shampooed hair. Because hair that has been permed, relaxed, or colored is considerably more anionic than normal hair, manufacturers design special conditioners packed with cationic ingredients for hair that has undergone a strong chemical treatment. Some formulas can even temporarily repair or strengthen chemically processed hair through the use of cationic proteins that cling to the hair’s weakened keratin chains through hydrogen bonds.


referenced: Good Hair days: A Case of Good Chemistry.”Shampoos and Conditioners.” Accessed April 3rd, 2013.

My second video review


When an apple is cut (or bruised), oxygen is introduced into the injured plant tissue. When oxygen is present in cells, polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzymes in the chloroplasts rapidly oxidize phenolic compounds naturally present in the apple tissues to o-quinones, colorless precursors to brown-colored secondary products. O-quinones then produce the well documented brown color by reacting to form compounds with amino acids or proteins, or they self-assemble to make polymers. One question that often accompanies yours is, “Why do some apples seem to brown faster than others?” Well, nearly all plant tissues contain PPO, however, the level of PPO activity and concentration of substrate can vary between varieties of fruits. In addition, a tissue’s PPO level can vary depending on growing conditions and fruit maturity. One approach the food industry employs to prevent enzymatic browning is to select fruit varieties that are less susceptible to discoloration; either due to lower PPO activity or lower substrate concentration. This approach, however, may not be practical for the home “culinary scientist.” In the home kitchen enzymatic browning can be prevented by either reducing PPO oxidation activity or lowering the amount of substrate to which the enzyme can bind. Coating freshly cut apples in sugar or syrup can reduce oxygen diffusion and thus slow the browning reaction. Lemon or pineapple juices, both of which naturally contain antioxidants, can be used to coat apple slices and slow enzymatic browning. In addition, both fruit juices are acidic and the lower pH that they bring about causes PPO to become less active. Heating can also be used to inactivate PPO enzymes; apples can be blanched in boiling water for four to five minutes to nearly eliminate PPO activity. Enzymatic browning is not unique to apples. PPO,a mixture of monophenol oxidase and catechol oxidase enzymes is present in nearly all plant tissues and can also be found in bacteria, animals and fungi. In fact, browning by PPO is not always an undesirable reaction; the familiar brown color of tea, coffee and cocoa is developed by PPO enzymatic browning during product processing.

Various aspects were left out in the video so i added the missing substantial information. However the video answered some interesting questions about the browning of apples, a case where many people do not really understand. The video could improve vastly b including structural formula and equations to validate the information being given. I have finally learned why my fruits turn brown when i leave it exposed for a while. The video was quite nice and provided some relevant information  but as mentioned before, as a biochemistry student, i would have liked to see the reactions,structural formula and equations of the various components.




“Oxidation in apples,” YouTube Video, 4:12, posted by “DNA Geek,” April 12, 2011,

Scientific American.2007.Why do apple slices turn brown after being cut?