updated 28 Apr 2012, 13:53
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Sat, Apr 28, 2012
The Star/ANN
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Flakes no more with Clear shampoo
by S. Indramalar

NOBODY likes dandruff. If it's any consolation, even the hottest vampire in Hollywood, British actor Robert Pattinson (who played Edward Cullen in the Twilight series) has dandruff! In an interview with Entertainment Tonight a couple of years ago, the heartthrob admitted that among his many flaws was his unmanageable dandruff.

"Earlier on, I didn't know what was going on and I was like going nuts. I just went like that (shakes his hair) all afternoon to see how much dandruff could possibly come out of my hair. It was intense," confessed Pattinson.

Dandruff is the result of excessive secretion of sebum or skin oil on the scalp, and an irritation from a fungus (Malassezia) that lives on the skin and feeds on the oil. It's a difficult problem to be rid of.

A common skin condition, 60% of the world's population have dandruff at some stage of their lives. In Asia, it afflicts more than 70% of the population. But you can't wish it away and it's not easily washed off either.

There are numerous anti-dandruff shampoos available but often, dandruff flakes reappear after some time. That's because most of these solutions wash away the flakes that appear on the scalp. They treat the symptom successfully but don't address the underlying cause, which is an unhealthy or undernourished scalp, said Francois Renard, global vice president of Clear, Unilever's leading anti-dandruff shampoo.

Well, things are about to change.

Clear (first launched in Asia in 1972) recently came up with a revolutionary new formulation that promises to eliminate dandruff once and for all.

The new and improved shampoo, Clear with Nutrium 10, gets to the root of the problem: the scalp. Infused with vitamins, minerals and oils, the product nourishes the scalp and treats all scalp problems like dryness, oilyness, dandruff or itchiness.

Once the scalp is taken care of, said Renard, symptons like dandruff will not surface.

It took almost two years to perfect the formulation for Clear Nutrium 10.

"We listened to feedback from consumers and realised they were dissatisfied with available products. They were unhappy that the dandruff kept coming back and needed an anti-dandruff shampoo with long-term effects. They also wanted something that addressed their beauty needs (such as healthy and shiny hair). Other scalp problems like dry or greasy scalp were brought up. And, they wanted gender specific shampoos for men and women.

"We listened and took on the challenge of addressing all their concerns," he explained. This resulted in Clear with Nutrium 10, the first ever shampoo with patented scalp nutrient technology, There's also Clear with Pro-Nutrium 10, which is the gender-specific formula for men.

Naturally, Renard and his team at Clear are ecstatic about their born-again product.

Journalists from Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore were flown to the Unilever headquarters and laboratories in Shanghai last March for a better picture of the all new Clear shampoo.

Renard and his team, including project leader Dr Graham Turner, global research and development director Amit Jayaswal and global brand manager Victor Hugo, expounded on the research behind the new formulation.

"Our vision was to revolutionise the scalp care sector. With Clear Nutrium 10, our vision has become a reality," said Hugo, the project leader of the gargantuan venture, which was given the codename "Project Cosmo".

There were three areas to address: hygiene and nutrition (the anti-dandruff aspect of the shampoo), beauty (making hair look and feel beautiful), and creating separate shampoos for men and women.

Intensive research coupled with clinical trials were conducted.

"This isn't just about a relaunch. The new Clear signifies a paradigm shift in the anti-dandruff market," said Renard.

Most people don't think of their scalp as skin but it's no different from the skin that covers the rest of our body. In fact, Dr Turner explained that the scalp comprises five layers of skin.

We spend lots of money and hours on end looking after our skin. We cleanse, moisturise, tone and pamper our face and body. But, we often neglect the scalp as it's hidden from view. Hair care is given more importance than scalp care.

Once the researchers at Clear determined that scalp care was integral in combating dandruff, they focused all their effort on scalp nutrition.

The team had their work cut out for them and since they wanted to create two formulations - one for women and another for men - the challenge was two-fold as they had to understand the nutrient needs of both women and men.

"Unilever invested over ‚900mil (S$1.56 million) in 2009 just on research and development. We have a network of more than 6,000 R&D professionals in our research facilities in Britain, the Netherlands, India, China and the United States.

"The Clear research team comprises dermatologists, chemists, molecular biologists, material scientists, biochemists, physicists and even psychologists who are integral in helping us understand the consumer," shared Jayaswal.

Apart from nourishing the scalp, he said it was also important to fortify it.

"The scalp, like the skin on our body, is made up of different structural layers. The top layer (the epidermis) is a protective covering of cells and lipids. It acts as a barrier to prevent foreign organisms from penetrating and damaging the scalp. This layer can be weakened and damaged by microbes, and this will allow the fungus to penetrate into the inner layers. This will lead to scalp problems like dryness, dandruff or itchiness.

"It is critical therefore to strengthen the barrier. Nutrium 10 has vitamins, minerals, scalp and fibre care actives as well as scalp repair actives that will strengthen the barrier. For the first time, we used only natural oils in our formulations as they convert to ceramides or lipids that hold the skin together.

"It's all about stronger barriers," said Jayaswal.

Their research also made them more aware of the very tangible differences and needs of men and women.

"Our research and testing revealed that men react very differently to treatment (with Clear) compared with women. The tests helped us understand the level of customisation that we needed. Men's scalp are typically weaker and produce more sebum. They are, therefore, more prone to dandruff," Jawaswal explained.

"The formulation for men, Pro-Nutrium 10 has a slightly different balance of ingredients compared with Nutrium 10 for women. It has double the amount of active ingredients, five times more fungus inhibition and double the protection against dandruff," he added.

Hygiene first, beauty next

Once the team got the scalp care equation down, they focused on the aesthetic attributes of the new Clear shampoo.

Like all anti-dandruff shampoos, Clear was initially more of a hygiene brand than a beauty brand.

Since consumers called for a hygiene-based product that would also address their beauty concerns, the researchers at Clear decided to take notice.

"Only 30% of the shampoo market addresses the problem of dandruff. The other 70% of the market is focused on beauty (creating silky, shiny, healthy hair texture). We wanted our product to be more than just a better anti-dandruff product. It should be a better beauty product as well.

"We also introduced gender customisation. Clear is all about total scalp care," Renard declared.

And so, tests upon tests were conducted to assess the effect of the new shampoos on the smoothness of hair as well as its breakage.

There's a lab dedicated to testing the breakage level of hair after using the new Clear Nutrium 10. Instead of live models, real hair attached to a machine that stimulated the action of combing was used. Obviously, a lot of thought has been given to the product research and the team is certainly proud of their efforts. When the results on Clear Nutrium 10 was presented at the 2010 International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology (IACD) World Congress, the response was overwhelming. From the 294 dermatologists present at the congress, 90% said that they would recommend Clear Nutrium 10 to consumers, while 80% said they trusted the new formulation.

As a result, Clear Nutrium 10 garnered the endorsement of IACD.

President of the IACD, Dr Lawrence Parish, who was also present at the media event, said, "Clear's revolutionary technology will contribute not only to better scalp health but also improve the confidence and quality of life of those with dandruff."

The Clear range of scalp care and anti-dandruff shampoos for men consists of Clear Men Anti Hair Fall, Clear Men Cool Sport Menthol and Clear Men Cooling Itch Control. For women, there's the Clear Women Anti Hair Fall, Clear Women Complete Soft Care, Clear Women Dry Scalp & Itch Control, Clear Women Extra Strength, Clear Women Ice Cool Menthol and Clear Women Smooth & Manageable. Prices range between $9.40 (350ml) and $15.70 (700ml). Clear is available at leading pharmacies, supermarkets, hypermarkets and provision shops.

-The Star/Asia News Network


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