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Does the Aveda Invati System Really Work?

Posted Nov 29 2012 1:01am

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Mrs AnaLuna asks…I know that anecdotally, there seems to be a lot of positive feedback on various beauty blogs, but I’ve read quite a few who’ve said they see no change. Does the Invati system really work in helping you lose less hair and grow thicker hair? And is it really essential to use all three products (shampoo, conditioner and revitalizing treatment) like Aveda insists it is? It’s a lot of money and I want to know if scientifically, it’s legit, before I drop $108 or so.

The Left Brain responds:

I love this question because it gives me a chance to illustrate the difference between lies that cosmetic companies tell you and lies that you think they tell you.

There are a couple of key claims Aveda makes about this product line:

  • “Reduce hair loss by 33%* (reduces hair loss due to breakage, in a 12 week clinical study.)”
  • “proven to restore strength and improve hair elasticity, reducing breakage.”
  • “Clinically proven to thicken hair”

Now, let me ask you what you think these claims mean. Do you think they mean these products will reduce the number of hairs that naturally fall out of your scalp? That they will permanently reverse thinning hair? Or perhaps that they will even prevent balding? If you believe any of these things then you’ll be very disappointed because these products are cosmetics, not drugs, and they will not affect hair growth/loss.  They will only reduce hair breakage. Let’s look at what these claims really mean.

In the claim “reduce hair loss due to breakage” the last three words are critically important. Hair loss due to breakage (in other words the hairs that you damage during combing, brushing, towel drying, blow drying and so forth) is much different than hair loss due to normal hair growth cycling or due to balding/thinning hair from aging. The former type of hair breakage is caused by over-stressing the hair until it snaps.

Of course – any product that smooths and lubricates the hair will allow a comb to glide through it more easily. If there’s less friction across the hair surface the hair will be less likely to break. Any good conditioner will do this. Here’s how that type of breakage is measured:

It’s a fairly standard industry test involving two tresses of hair. One tress is the “control” tress and the other is the “test” tress which is treated with whatever product you want to make a comparison to. In this case they probably shampooed one tress with a regular shampoo and shampooed and conditioned the other tress with their Invati products.

After treatment both tresses are combed multiple times, usually using a robotic combing arm. The stress of combing will cause a number of hairs to break on both tresses. These broken hairs are collected and counted at the end of the test. Since the comb will glide through the tress which has been conditioned, it will have fewer broken hairs compared to the “control” tress. For example, if there are 100 broken care fibers on the control side and 40 broken hairs on the conditioned side, the test results shows that the product reduces breakage by 60%. Some version of this test is used to support almost any hair loss claim you see from any respectable company marketing a standard shampoo and conditioner. (Of course this is different in the case of a drug product like Minoxidil.)

So Aveda is not lying about what this product can do. It will reduce broken hairs. However, if you’re not careful it’s easy for you to read their claims and think that they are claiming more than they really are.

Typically hair thickening claims are appearance claims. In other words, all you have to prove is that the appearance of the hair is thicker or fuller. This is easy to do (with a simple salon test, for example) as long as the conditioner isn’t so heavy that it weighs down hair.

I have no doubt that this product does exactly what it says it does (reduces hair loss due to breakage.) But ANY good conditioner will do the same thing for much cheaper.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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