The New Zealand innovation aiming to solve hair loss

A New Zealand skin, hair and wellness company may have developed the answer to hair loss. Research from the Korean Future Science Research Centre, out this week, has found a link between air pollution and hair loss. Suggestions from the research included not exercising outside. A New Zealand company thinks there is a better solution and has developed a product to protect from pollution-based hair loss.

The Solution - A World First In Scalp Protection

A scalp tonic developed specifically for the scalp and protection of the hair follicle. Distilled from New Zealand wool cortex, the tonic has some impressive international research behind it, with a French laboratory having used a live scalp ex-plants model to study human skin and follicles and the protection effects of Scalp Tonic in a polluted environment.

“Hair loss is a problem that we have been seeing more and more, both in men and women and increasingly at a younger age” says Sub & Tarctic’s co-founder Kimberley Bray. “We had developed an incredible supplement for supporting hair health and hair growth, but wanted something to go with our KeraNourish supplement to protect the hair follicle from the outside. We thought our New Zealand sourced ingredients could do that, and now we have the research to confirm it” says Bray.

The result? The world’s first scalp tonic with this combination of natural ingredients and scientific evidence of hair follicle protection. The Sub & Tarctic scalp tonic nourishes and restores the scalp, protects from hair and scalp stress caused by pollution, provides anti-aging support for the scalp, enabling longevity of hair follicle health and relieving scalp discomfort and itching.

 article continues below image


The Research Results:

Sub & Tarctic's Scalp Tonic stimulated skin cells to proliferate, while simultaneously stimulating the expression of collagen IV, which improved the anchoring of hair follicles. 

The Scalp Tonic reduced the PGE2 response in cells undergoing inflammatory stress. Reducing scalp inflammation, itching and pre-mature hair follicle death. This reduction in PGE2 response enabled maintenance of root nourishment and hair density. The Tonic also protected the scalp from exposure to oxidative stress from pollution, gases like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.

Results included;

  • Increase in cell proliferation
  • Reduction in PEG2 (inflammation) response
  • Increased expression of collagen IV 
  • Improved follicle anchoring
  • Pollution protection through film forming anti-oxidants

"The impact of soluble keratin proteins on collagen IV expression, previously identified in a keratinocyte model3 appears to translate into clear increase in collagen IV in the basement membrane of the hair follicle. As the role of this binding protein is to anchor the hair follicle, this increase in occurrence could be expected to lead to improved anchoring of the hair in the scalp. Keratin’s mechanistic role in wound healing has been identified as being associated with the healing response14, encouraging cell proliferation and basement membrane protein synthesis. Keratin's are normally intracellular proteins, and so the occurrence of intact keratin protein in the extracellular matrix outside of the cell only occurs as a result of cell injury, as would occur in a wound. In the hair follicle model studied, the occurrence of soluble keratin proteins in the extracellular environment may be leading to a similar wound response, encouraging increase in basement membrane proteins, resulting in the strengthening of the follicle anchor observed.  

The radical scavenging ability of intact keratin proteins on hair is well established and associated with the antioxidant characteristics of the amino acid cysteine9. In skin cells, the cysteine rich protein may also encourage anti-inflammatory and antioxidant response by providing cysteine for the sulfur dependent pathways of glutathione and taurine, important in cellular oxidative and inflammatory response. Improved anti-inflammatory response in the presence of keratin has been reported in vitro15 and is a consistent observation in wound healing studies of keratin based wound treatments16. Similar protection appears to be functioning in hair follicles. The combination of cysteine rich radical scavenging and improved sulfur metabolism may explain the mechanism by which the applied keratin is providing protection and neutralizing the oxidizing impact of pollution components, resulting in improved follicle health in the presence of pollution. This is manifested in the follicle model studied as a superior antioxidant response, visualized through Nrf2 expression, and improved cell morphology, as the cells experience less oxidative challenge and so better maintain their ability to express keratin's in the hair fiber, and retain healthy cell structure." (A.D. Roddick-Lanzilotta, Ph.D., R.J. Kelly, Ph.D., and P.R. Sapsford, 2019)

The KeraNourish supplement and Scalp Tonic are available online through searching for Sub & Tarctic on and at


  1. RM Trueb, JP Henry, MG Davis and JR Schwartz, Scalp condition impacts hair growth and retention via oxidative stress, Int J Trichol [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 May];10:262-70. Available from:
  2. YH Chuang YH, D Dean, J Allen, R Dawber and F Wojnarowska, Comparison between the expression of basement membrane zone antigens of human interfollicular epidermis and anagen hair follicle using indirect immunofluorescence, Br J Dermatol Aug;149(2):274-81 (2003)
  3. L Tang, JO Sierra, R Kelly, RS Kirsner and J Li, Wool-derived keratin stimulates human keratinocyte migration and types IV and VII collagen expression, Experimental dermatology 21, 456-476 (2012)
  4. R Kirsner, S Cassidy, C Marsh and R Kelly, Use of a Keratin-Based Wound Dressing in the Management of Wounds in a Patient with Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa, Adv Skin and Wound Care 25:400-3 (2012)
  5. C Barba, S Mendez, A D Roddick-Lanzilotta, R J Kelly, J L Parra and L Coderch, Wool peptide derivatives for hand care, J Cosmet Sci 58(2): 99-107C (2007).
  6. AW Bahta, N Farjo, B Farjo and MP Philpott, Premature senescence of balding dermal papilla cells in vitro is associated withp16INK4a expression, J Invest Dermatology 128, 1088-1094 (2008)
  7. L Misery, V Sibaud, M Ambronati, G Macy, S Boussetta and C Taieb, Sensitive scalp: does this condition exist? An epidemiological study, Contact Dermatitus Apr;58(4) 234-238 (2008)
  8. R Rajput, Understanding hair loss due to air pollution and the approach to management, Hair Therapy Transplant 5:133. Doi:10.4172/21670951.1000133 (2015)
  9. A Roddick-Lanzilotta, R Kelly, S Scott, G Mitchell and S Chahal, Protecting hair with natural keratin biopolymers , Cosmetics and Toiletries, 121, 5, 61-68, (2006)
  10. N Ojeh, B Akgül, M Tomic-Canic, M Philpott and H Navsaria, In vitro skin models to study epithelial regeneration from the hair follicle. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0174389 (2017)
  12. Peno-Mazzarino, Assessment of the ability of two products to promote hair follicle health and to protect human scalp explants ex vivo from air pollution, Laboratoire Bio-EC Confidential Report: Study 18E4285 (2019)
  13. Q Ma, Role of Nrf2 in oxidative stress and toxicity, Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol 53, 401-426, Doi:10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-011112-140320 (2013)
  14. MB Omary, and NO Ku, Skin care by keratins, Nature, 441(18 May), 296-297 (2006)
  15. R McPherson, Cynatine. An alternative to glucosamine and chondroitin combining joint health and anti-oxidant. NutraFoods Research, 4(4), 70 (2005)
  16. A Batzer, C Marsh and R Kirsner, The use of keratin based wound products on refractory wounds, Int Wound J 13(1) 110-115 (2016)