Article

Effects of shampoo and water washing on hair cortisol concentrations

Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-9271, USA.
Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry (Impact Factor: 2.76). 10/2010; 412(3-4):382-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.cca.2010.10.019
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Measurement of cortisol in hair is an emerging biomarker for chronic stress in human and nonhuman primates. Currently unknown, however, is the extent of potential cortisol loss from hair that has been repeatedly exposed to shampoo and/or water.
Pooled hair samples from 20 rhesus monkeys were subjected to five treatment conditions: 10, 20, or 30 shampoo washes, 20 water-only washes, or a no-wash control. For each wash, hair was exposed to a dilute shampoo solution or tap water for 45 s, rinsed 4 times with tap water, and rapidly dried. Samples were then processed for cortisol extraction and analysis using previously published methods.
Hair cortisol levels were significantly reduced by washing, with an inverse relationship between number of shampoo washes and the cortisol concentration. This effect was mainly due to water exposure, as cortisol levels following 20 water-only washes were similar to those following 20 shampoo treatments.
Repeated exposure to water with or without shampoo appears to leach cortisol from hair, yielding values that underestimate the amount of chronic hormone deposition within the shaft. Collecting samples proximal to the scalp and obtaining hair washing frequency data may be valuable when conducting human hair cortisol studies.

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    • "How the external environment impacts hair cortisol content is not well studied, and there are inconsistent reports on this subject in the literature. Repeated hair-washings in hot water and shampoo have been reported to decrease hair cortisol content by some, and this could perhaps be due to damage of the hair structure (Stout et al. 2007; Hamel et al. 2011; Li et al. 2012). Conversely, Kirschbaum et al. (2009), Manenschijn et al. (2011), and Stalder et al. (2012) found no significant differences in hair cortisol content in hair related to frequency of hair-washing or treatment. "
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    • "Thus, the systematic decrease in cortisol along the hair shaft seen in humans ('washout effect'; e.g., Kirschbaum et al., 2009) should not be observed. Hamel et al. (2011) have shown a decrease in HCC in the hair of rhesus macaques after numerous intense wash/dry procedures using shampoo or water only. Zoo-living animals , however, are not subject to frequent rain and thus a washout effect is unlikely to affect hair of captive animals. "
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    • "repeated washing of hair might leach some of the cortisol from within the hair shaft causing cortisol lev - els to decline significantly as a function of the distance from the scalp . We recently confirmed this hypothesis using monkey hair samples treated with differing num - bers of washes with a standard commercially available shampoo solution ( Hamel et al . , 2011 ) . Importantly , a con - trol condition in which hair samples were washed with tap water alone showed nearly the same amount of cor - tisol loss . Thus , any comparison of cortisol concentrations between free - ranging / corral housed and laboratory housed primates might be confounded by exposure to rainfall , especially if such rainfa"
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