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Study the Effect of Hair Style Products on the Quality of Domestic Wastewater- WAX as Case Study

M.Saleh1, M.Yalvaç2, F.Sime3 and M.A.Mazmanci4

1 Mohammed Saleh: PhD. Student, Environmental Engineering Department, Mersin University. Mersin, Turkey.

2 Mutlu Yalvaç: PhD, Environmental Engineering Department, Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey.

3 Ferhat Sime: Master Student, Environmental Engineering Department, Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey.

 Mehmet Ali Mazmanci: Professor, Environmental Engineering Department, Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey.


The effect of hair cosmetic (especially WAX) on the domestic wastewater was examined. Several of WAX, shampoo, and hair combinations were explored. 0.1 gm of WAX increased the chemical oxygen demand (COD) to 1096 mg/L. while as same amount of shampoo can increase it to 584 mg/L. The maximum COD was noticed when mixing shampoo with WAX with a value of 1896 mg/L. The experiment shows that approximate 40% of WAX volatilized after 30 min in room temperature. Even though, the residue part can raise the value of COD to 1296 mg/L. The percent of WAX users in the target area was explored. The results show that 43% of the randomly sample using hair style products. It also shows that 45% using it every day.

Keywords: WAX; Domestic wastewater; Hair Style Products; Shampoo; Human hair.


Wastewater is mostly water by mass (99.9%) and the (0.1%) is the contaminants which include: suspended solids, biodegradable dissolved organic compounds, and refractory organics, inorganic solids, salts,  nutrients, metals, and pathogenic microorganisms (Templeton & Butler, 2011).

 Human hair is the characteristics covering of human skin. The main function of hair is body protection from environmental factors (heat, cold, dryness, etc.) injuries and impacts (Bouillon & Wilkinson, 2005). The hair shaft is formed of keratinized cells that grow from what called follicles (Robbins, 2012). The hair shapes differ from individual to another but in general it has shape of elongated cylinder. The hair diameter can vary between 45-110µm (Yin, et al., 1977).

The presence of keratin in the hair structure makes it elastic, and slight elongation is completely reversible, which is a characteristic of all elastic material (Bouillon & Wilkinson, 2005). In addition to that and to preserve hair shape a chemical product such as (WAX, Spray ….etc.) were used by human. The efficiency of the products is derived from the fact that, after application and drying, they leave a film on the surface of the hair. The properties of the material constituting this film determine the end-result.

When a shape given to hair to last over time many factors should be concerned: hair weight, the wind, everyday activities, humidity, etc. but the main factor is the time needed to conserver the shape of hair (hair style).

According to Schueller and Romanowski (2000) the main agent of hair styling product is the polymer (Schueller & Romanowski, 2000). The polymers can be one of these major categories: Non- ionic Polymers, Anionic Polymers, Cation Polymers, and Amphortic Polymers (Frosch, et al., 1994).

WAX products can be considered as conditioning and hair style-controlling products that form the hairstyle and make it shine by coating it with oily film. Waxes are anhydrous base which can be formed from fat or emulsions. In both cases, WAX behaves as thickeners and hardeners because the effect of fatty phases (Bouillon & Wilkinson, 2005). The problem is in removing the fats from hair, in order to deal with that, there are many products were used. Shampoo is a preferred product for human hair washing. The effect of these components (WAX and shampoo) on the domestic wastewater should be studied.

This paper aims to find the effect of using hairstyle products (especially WAX) on the quality of the domestic wastewater. Also, the effect of the shampoo on domestic wastewater was taken into the scope of this study.



In this study the effect of hair cosmetics (especially WAX) on the domestic wastewater was assessed. The main materials (WAX, shampoo and raw- clean human hair) were used in this research. WAX is the product used for men hair style while the shampoos are the preferred product for human hair washing. The above three component were collected from barber salon. Raw-clean hair (RC-Hair) was collected from people who have never used cosmetics, bleach or dies before, while WAX and shampoo were randomly selected with no brand discrimination was made.


To study the effect of hair cosmetics on domestic wastewater, the following procedure had been executed:

WAX Quantity Exploration

To explore the quantity of WAX used in Yenişehir –Mersin, field surveys were conducted to collect the needed information from barber salon and community. In order to facilitate this mission two simple and definite questionnaire were prepared for barber saloon and the community as shown in the appendix A1 and A2.

In order to achieve 95% confidence level and 5 confidence interval 385 questioners were distributed for the community (according to equation 1). The collected data were used for analyzing and estimating the percent of WAX users in the sample area

SS = (Z^2×P×(1-P))/C^2 Eq. 1

Whereas: SS: sample size, Z: Z-Value, P: Percentage of population picking a choice, C: Confidence interval.

Experimental design

2.1 Samples Preparation:

Four samples were prepared as control groups (only WAX, only shampoo, only hair, shampoo and WAX). Other three samples were prepared in the presence of human hair (Table 1). The hair samples were washed by distilled water, and then dried for 24 h at the room temperature. All the work had been done in a tap water medium to simulate the real situation.  

Table 1: Experimental design

No. Experiment Constituents

(g/ 100 mL water) Method of application

(shaken for 30 min at 150 rpm)

1 WAX 0.1 WAX was dissolved in water.

2 Shampoo 0.1 Shampoo was dissolved in water.

3 WAX 0.1 A mix of shampoo and WAX were dissolved in water.

Shampoo 0.1

4 Raw-Clean Hair 2.0 Human hair was washed in water.

5 Shampoo 0.1 Human hair was washed with shampoo and water.

Raw-Clean Hair 2.0

6 WAX 0.1 Human hair was treated with WAX, waited to dry for 30min in room temperature, and then washed in water.

Raw-Clean Hair 2.0

7 WAX 0.1 Clean human hair was treated with WAX, waited to dry for 30 min in room temperature, and then treated with shampoo and then washed in water.

Shampoo 0.1

Raw-Clean Hair 2.0

2.2 Analysis:

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) were measured by using Closed Reflux, Titrimetric Method (5220 C) (AWWA, WEF, APHA, 1998). pH was measured before and after shaking. The volatile value of WAX (vvWAX) was calculated according to equation 2.

vvWAX=[aWAX]-[rWAX]     Eq. 2

Whereas: vvWAX: Volatile value of WAX; aWAX: amount of WAX applied to the hair; rWAX: amount of remaining WAX after 30 min.


Questionnaire's results

The used WAX in Yenişehir –Mersin data were collected from questionnaires (community and barber) and the results were as follow:

The community questioners showed that 61% of the sample were washing their hair every day while as 30% were cleaning it one time every two days, 8% onetime every three days and just 1% are washing it one time every week (Figure 1.a). The hairstyle users percentage was 43% while the non-user's percentage was 57% (Figure 1.b). It also showed that 45% of hairstyle users were using it every day, while 27%, 21%, 7% are using it every two days, three days, ever week respectively (Figure 1.c). The questioners showed that 80% of community is using shampoo as washing material while as 13% using soap and 7% using both (Figure 1.d).In Turkey, there is no record for quantifying of WAX or such cosmetics, but according to U.S EPA (2002) cosmetics annual import and production increased by ten times for the last twenty five years (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), 2002).



Figure 1: Shows the hair washing rate (a), Hair user percentage (b), hair using rate (c), Hair washing material (d).

pH and COD results

The samples were tested in terms of pH and COD as described in material and method section. The pH for all samples after shaking process varies from 8.0 to 8.3. These values are close to the result from other researches. Ma and Chen (2018) have studied the characteristics of cosmetic wastewater. They found that the pH values range from 8.6-8.7 (Ma & Chen, 2018).

Minimum pH and COD values were noted in the combination human hair with water tab and they were 8.0 and 504 mg/L respectively. While the maximum pH and COD values were noted in the combination (human hair, WAX and Shampoo) where they were 8.3 and 1896 mg/L respectively. It was noticed that approx. 40% of WAX was volatile, even though that presence of small amount of WAX caused a relatively high COD value. This result confirms that the hair style products can cause a COD of 5490 mg/m3 (Ma & Chen, 2018).

The pH results of the combinations consisting Shampoo prove the fact reported by Robbins (2012) who said “Most shampoos are formulated near neutrality and are based on the anionic surfactant”. COD results for the same group can be explained by the sorption capability of hair which is “governed by its attraction or binding interactions to the keratin, versus its hydrophilicity or binding interactions to the aqueous phase, and the rate of diffusion of the ingredient into the hair” (Robbins, 2012). This paper suggests that a significant amount of shampoo were remained at the tested hair, and the hair should be rewashed to extract the total amount of shampoo. Unfortunately this amount had not been determined in this paper.

It is noticed that whenever shampoo was mixed with WAX, the COD values become higher than using WAX alone. The possible explanation is that the shampoo might expedite dissolving WAX in the water and causing relatively high COD values. This results confirm the information that found in the book of the science of hair care, which is “ However, given the problems with removing fats when washing the hair, waxes must retain a solid texture that limits the amount used and the application to small dabs (to the tips, for example) in finishing. The use of non-ionic surfactants aids removal by the shampoo” (Bouillon & Wilkinson, 2005).

The test results of the other combinations can be shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Combinations Results

NO. STANDART SAPMA Hair (g) Water (mL) Wax (g) Shampoo (g) pH COD (mg/L)

1 Wax 100.0 0.1 8.1 1096. 0

2 Shampoo 100.0 0.1 8.2 584.0

3 Wax + Shampoo 100.0 0.1 0.1 8.3 1896.0

4 RC Hair 2.0 100.0 8.0 504.0

5 Shampoo + RC Hair 2.0 100.0 0.1 8.1 592.0

6 Wax + RC Hair 2.0 100.0 0.1 * 8.1 1296.0

7 WAX +Shampoo + RC Hair 2.0 100.0 0.1* 0.1 8.1 1328.0

* This is the weight of WAX before volatilization average and after the volatilization is 0.0608g.


The effect of the hair care product WAX and shampoo was examined on the domestic wastewater in this paper. It had been found that 40% of WAX volatilized in 30 minutes after applying to the room temperature, even though the residue part caused an increscent of COD to 1328 mg/L. Shampoo could increase the COD to 584 mg/L when applying it directly to the water. When applying it to the hair shampoo should be washed more than one time to have the exact amount of COD.

It has been assumed that no WAX residue on the hair. In future researches this assumption should be examined and the other parameters like turbidity, toxicity, total solids, etc. could be controlled. The experiments were accomplished in normal water temperature (18 ̊C) the effect of water temperature on the solubility of WAX's water should be examined.


AWWA, WEF, APHA, 1998. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater Closed Reflux, Titrimetric Method (5220 C) page 5-16/17.

Bouillon, C. & Wilkinson, J., 2005. The science of hair care. Second edition.:Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. ISBN 9780824759698.

Frosch, F. et al., 1994. Assessment of polymers for hair setting. Spray Technology & Marketing, May 1994, pp. 25-29.

Ma, G. & Chen, J., 2018. Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollutants in Cosmetics Wastewater and Its Treatment Process of a Certain Brand. IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science, Volume 113, 012051.

Robbins, C. R., 2012. Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair. 5th Edition ed. Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-3-642-25610-3.

Schueller, R. & Romanowski, P., 2000. Fundamentals of formulating hair care products. Cosmetics and toiletries 115 (10), 67-73.

Templeton, M. & Butler, D., 2011. An Introduction To Wastewater Treatment. London: Ventus Publishing ApS. ISBN 978-87-7681-843-2.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), 2002. Non-confidential inventory update reporting production volume information. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)Inventory,

Yin, N. E., Kissinger, R. H., Tolgyesi, W. S. & Cottington, E. M., 1977. The effect of fiber diameter on the cosmetic aspects of hair. Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, Vol. 28, No. 3, 139-150.

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