Is calcium bentonite, the main ingredient of products such as Scalpure, good for you and your hair?
Recently, there has been some discussion in the curly haired community about products such as Scalpure, which marketed as a facial treatment for the scalp. The makers of such products maintain that that the products can provide a number of benefits to hair, such as stimulating hair growth, reducing excess oil production, and improving dandruff symptoms, among other things. These are rather bold claims, but perhaps are not without some scientific merit. The idea behind the development of this product is rooted (pardon the pun) in the theory that the health of our hair begins with the health and wellbeing of the scalp and follicles. As the makers of Scalpure say, "the scalp is the soil for the hair." Examination of the ingredients list should provide us with some scientific insight into whether or not the treatment can possibly live up to these promises.
Most of the ingredients in this list are fairly self-explanatory. Purified spring water is the bulk solvent for the product, so it is not an oil-based treatment, which makes it easier to rinse out of the hair. The various essential oils and plant extracts in the list are all familiar to most of us and are commonly found in many products.
Ingredients: Purified Spring Water Calcium Bentonite Japanese Honeysuckle Flower Extract Peppermint Oil Tea Tree Oil Cedarwood Oil Organic Sage Extract Organic Burdock Root Extract Manuka Oil Jojoba Oil
These types of oils can soothe dry skin, plump and smooth hair, stimulate blood flow to the scalp, improve circulation and thereby enhance cell growth in follicles, act as anti-inflammatory agents, and provide antimicrobial and antifungal benefits. These oils also have a lovely aroma, which can provide the user with a sense of emotional energy and well-being.
To me the fascinating ingredient in Scalpure is calcium bentonite, which is a crystalline inorganic material that is a member of the smectite clay family. It is sometimes known as Montmorillonite clay. Its chemical structure is hydrated sodium calcium aluminum magnesium silicate hydroxide, shown empirically as: (Na,Ca)0.33(Al,Mg)2(Si4O10)(OH)2·nH2O
This aluminosilicate clay is mined from various sites around the world, refined, purified, and then used as raw material for many different applications.
The crystalline structure of calcium bentonite is much like a playing card. The silicon-aluminum-oxygen crystal forms an ionically charged platelet structure. Typical platelet edge thickness is around one nanometer, while the face can be as much as several hundred nanometers across. The broad, flat surface is covered with negative charges, while the edges are very slightly positively charged. This lends an overall negative charge to these crystals.