Adjustable, Low Damage Hair Bleaching Solutions

17 Submissions
251 Views
$20,000 + study funding
Due:  11th Mar 2024

Challenge overview

OVERVIEW

The Seeker for this Wazoku Crowd Challenge is looking for hair bleaching solutions with reduced damage to hair and the possibility to control the intensity of the effect.

Hair bleaching is a popular practice that uses bleaching agents to remove melanin in the hair – a process that can damage the hair’s structure, cause irritation, and produce unwanted results. Worldwide users of at-home bleaching solutions could benefit from greater control and reduced irritation with the process, damage, and results of bleaching.

The Seeker invite Solvers’ solutions that can effectively lighten hair with less or no harm to the user, achieve controllable and more effective levels of bleaching, and provide other innovative improvements to the bleaching process. In this Challenge, Solvers are not limited to chemical solutions or approaches: technological, biological, or other novel approaches are welcomed as long as they meet solution requirements.

There are monetary prizes up to $20,000 in total available for solutions that meet the criteria after theoretical evaluation. The Seeker then has the capability to fund an initial study to experimentally validate the solutions of award winners to further test the final chosen method.

This is a Prize Challenge which requires a written proposal to be submitted. Awards will be contingent upon the theoretical evaluation of proposals by R&D experts. Then, the most promising, shortlisted award winners can be funded in an initial study to further test the final chosen methods and experimentally validate the solutions, with a resource available (but not committed) to this project. 

To receive an award for this Prize Challenge, Solvers are required to transfer all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) in their proposed solution. Solvers will retain all rights to any proposal not Awarded. The Seeker is also willing to consider a non-exclusive transfer for a partial award if exclusive IP cannot be transferred by the Solver.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on March 11th, 2024.

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ABOUT THE SEEKER & ELIGIBILITY

What is the Wazoku Crowd?

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BACKGROUND

Bleaching hair in order to lighten its color is a worldwide practice, used by millions around the world to alter their hair color or prepare their hair for further dyeing.

Bleaching agents break down melanin pigmentation in hair, with the lightening process of the hair being based on gradual lightening of shade. Those with black hair see bleached hair turn to brown, initially, followed by lighter shades through finally to yellow and various shades of blonde hair.

The effect of lightened hair is achieved in the main through commercial bleaches or at-home products, which traditionally contain two components: persulfates (in powder form or salts) that act as bleaching agents, and hydrogen peroxide (in liquid form) that acts as the main active in the ‘developer’ lotion. The persulfates boost the efficacy of the hydrogen peroxide in degrading the melanin, thus lightening the hair. That’s because the alkalizing agents open the hair’s structure, enabling the actives to penetrate into the hair.

Current bleaching approaches can cause scalp irritation, with people advised to correctly apply bleaching agents and leave them in only for the length of time they are supposed to be applied for. Results may differ based on the bleaching agents used and the conditions of the bleaching. Bleaching can often degrade the structure of keratin in the hair, resulting in brittle, damaged, and lifeless hair.

The risk of damage and relative difficulty of correct application mean that developments in bleaching agents, solutions, or approaches will improve the coloration process for users and unlock greater flexibility in level of lightening.

 

THE CHALLENGE

The Seeker for this Challenge is looking to improve the bleaching process for consumers worldwide – with no or less harm to the user in the application of your bleaching solution or ingredients, greater control over the shade achieved through the lightening process, and innovative approaches to the steps/process of bleaching.

Figure 1: The color depth scale used by the Seeker.

In the color depth scale seen in Figure 1, the hair colors are laid out from darkest to lighter colors, with each color depth of natural hair assigned a number or ‘step’. The Seeker’s current lightener/bleaching solutions can at maximum take hair at a natural color of black (color depth of 1), for instance, to medium brown (color depth 4).

In this Challenge, your bleaching solution, method, or approach must, at minimum, meet the same bleaching performance as the Seeker’s current approach. This should be achieved while also achieving greater control of the outcome, causing no or low harm with safe ingredients, and controllable/adjustable. To do so, your bleaching solution must ‘lift’ the bleached hair at least 4 steps on the color depth scale in Figure 1 – for example, taking hair from black (color depth 1) to light brown (color depth 5) or taking hair from light brown (color depth 5) to light blonde (color depth 9).

No or less harm

Solutions or approaches from Solvers or teams that can bleach by removing color/degrading melanin/lightening the hair without damaging the hair structure to a great extent (or any extent) are of primary interest to the Seeker in this Challenge.

Many people who bleach their hair report damage or inconsistent results. This is often caused by cysteic acid, a resulting product of the bleach’s interaction with proteins in the hair. Cysteic acid can affect hair texture and structure, leaving users with irritation or undesirable bleaching results.

Figure 2: The damage model for hair used by the Seeker, provided as an example.

The scale in Figure 2 provides an example: the low percentage of cysteic acid in virgin, undamaged hair directly contrasts the higher percentage present in bleached, damaged hair. With cysteic acid as an indicator of the oxidative damage of the hair, the Seeker will be able to determine the damage level by measuring the Cysteic Acid % in its products.

Solvers should indicate in their submissions the theoretical reduction of cysteic acid resulting from their bleaching solution or proof through testing results of the lower percentage of cysteic acid.

Innovative approaches to bleaching

The Seeker is open to creative thinking in how Solvers meet the must-have requirements of the Challenge. The Seeker is aware of hair bleaching product developments that make use of enzymes, ultrasonic bleaching, or UV technology, although there is existing R&D in this area across the market. Enzymatic hair bleaching solutions and ultrasonics are subject to different regulations so please indicate in your submissions which regulations these must meet.

Innovative processes, methods, solutions, chemical mixtures, applications, or proposals that can achieve the requisite lightening effects while ensuring little-to-no harm to users are applicable in this Challenge. Hair bleaching must have a lightening effect of a minimum of 3 steps per Figure 1, and the adjustability or control to lessen or deepen the effects of bleaching. In traditional bleaching, this is achieved by the length of time the bleaching solution is left on hair or the amount and concentration of actives used, however the Seeker is open to innovative solutions or new approaches.

Greater control

The Seeker requires Solvers to demonstrate, as far as possible, that their proposed solution would achieve a lightening effect by at minimum 3 steps on the color scale in Figure 1. Experimental data or theoretical proof of concept to demonstrate success in control over bleaching is important to the Seeker, but Solvers are advised that use of and testing bleach/bleaching agents can be dangerous to health so please exercise caution.

Solvers are asked to provide details of their proposed hair bleaching solution and property testing/data, if possible. The Seeker has a need to find solutions that are safe for use by humans, as there are regulations behind these products’ contents and applications. If Solvers can provide testing data/proof of concept, then this will be of great interest to the Seeker. Many worldwide businesses provide hair samples/tresses for testing: one such example is Kerling International Haarfabrik GmbH (Germany). Please note that the Seeker will not reimburse purchases made during your solving of the Challenge, even for awarded Solvers.

Please also provide any other details that will help the Seeker to validate the effectiveness of your proposed solution – the earlier the stage of your submission e.g. only proposed ingredients rather than a formula for instance, please indicate next steps or proposed instructions. The greater the proof of concept of your solution, the more likely you are to be shortlisted by the Seeker for further stages of the Challenge including award, study funding, and potential collaboration.

Solutions will be theoretically evaluated by R&D experts for the prize to be awarded. Then, the most promising, shortlisted award winners can be funded in an initial study to further test the final chosen methods and experimentally validate the solutions, with a resource available (but not committed) to this project. Solvers will retain all rights to any proposal not Awarded.

 

SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS

The Seeker is primarily interested in solutions with the potential to meet the following must-have requirements:

  1. Effective: Solvers must provide a controllable hair bleaching solution that bleaches/lightens hair by at minimum 3 steps on the color scale in Figure 1, with adjustable levels of intensity.
  2. No harm: solution must cause less damage to hair than peroxide-based bleaches – harm to hair is difficult to measure quantitatively, so the most promising proposals will be experimentally validated before award.
    • Cysteic acid percentage in the hair is a reliable indicator of hair damage used by the Seeker, per Figure 2 above. Solvers must provide solutions that either show the theoretical reduction in cysteic acid percentage in their written proposal or can demonstrate testing results/data that prove the reduction in cysteic acid.
  3. Solutions must meet regulation and compliance checks
    • Your solution, at some point, may have to meet global regulations. However, as there are many country/regional regulations, the Seeker has attached EU regulations including REACH as an initial reference.
    • Must meet REACH regulations, if chemicals are used. REACH is an EU topic, where each material imported into the EU and used in EU products needs to have a REACH registration – independent of the production site of the raw material.
    • Solution compliant for use in cosmetic products, an example being these cosmetics regulations.
    • No animal testing in any part of your solution, in line with EU standards for the EU market.
  4. Solution must have no adverse interaction(s) with heavy metals
    • Heavy metals, often present in water, can boost bleach performance, having serious impacts on bleach results and hair damage.
    • An effective metal detox system in your solution is desired, however the Seeker know of existing and used patents and ingredients in this area.

Additionally, your solution could meet the following nice-to-have criteria:

  1. Higher lift of hair color – with current lighteners/bleaching solutions, someone with a natural hair color depth of 1 per Figure 1 would only be able to arrive at a color depth of 4 or 5. Solutions that offer a higher level of lift, for example from black (color depth 1) all the way to medium or light blonde (color depth 8 or 9) would be ideal.
  2. Simpler process – this could be achieved by delivering a bleaching solution with fewer steps in the process to achieve results, faster time of the process, and/or fewer instruments/pieces of equipment needed to deliver for at-home bleaching.

Solutions with Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-6 are invited, for ideation stage considering WHAT to do and for proof of concept stage detailing HOW to achieve this.

This is a Prize Challenge, which has the following features:

  1. The best solution(s) in this Prize Challenge has the opportunity to win some or all of the award of $20,000 USD for meeting all solution requirements, as solely determined by the Seeker.
  2. Awards will be contingent upon the theoretical evaluation of proposals by R&D experts. Then, the most promising, shortlisted award winners can be funded in an initial study to further test the final chosen methods and experimentally validate the solutions, with a resource available (but not committed) to this project. Solvers will retain all rights to any solution not Awarded.
  3. There are monetary prizes up to $20,000 in total available for solutions that meet the criteria. The Seeker then has the capability to fund an initial study for award winners and/or the Seeker to further test the final chosen method(s).
  4. To receive an award for this Prize Challenge, Solvers are required to transfer all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) in their proposed solution. Solvers will retain all rights to any proposal not Awarded. The Seeker is also willing to consider a non-exclusive transfer for a partial award if exclusive IP cannot be transferred by the Solver.
  5. The Seeker may also issue “Honorable Mention” recognitions for notable submissions that are not selected for monetary awards.

 

YOUR SUBMISSION

The Seeker understands that not every Solver can complete tests, but please include both property tests and data results if possible, to help guide the Seeker’s evaluators by indicating the success of your proposal.

Please login and register your interest, to complete the submission form.

The submitted proposals must be written in English and can include:

  1. Participation type – you will first be asked to inform us how you are participating in this Challenge, as a Solver (Individual) or Solver (Organization).
  2. Solution Stage - the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of your solution, TRL1-3 ideation stage, TRL4-6 proof of concept stage, TRL7-9 production ready stage.
  3. Problem & Opportunity - highlight the innovation in your approach to the Problem, its point of difference, and the specific advantages/benefits this brings (up to 500 words).
  4. Solution Overview - detail the features of your solution and how they address the SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS (500 words, there is space to add more in the summary field below, and add supporting data, diagrams, etc. as attachments).
  5. Experience - Expertise, use cases and skills you or your organization have in relation to your proposed solution (up to 500 words).
  6. Solution Risks - any risks you see with your solution and how you would plan for this (up to 500 words).
  7. Timeline, capability and costs - describe what you think is required to deliver the solution, estimated time and cost (up to 500 words).
  8. References - provide links to any publications or press releases of relevance (up to 500 words).

Wazoku encourages the use by Solvers of AI approaches to help develop their submissions, though any produced solely with generative AI are not of interest.

Find out more about participation in Wazoku Crowd Challenges.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on March 11th, 2024.

Late submissions will not be considered.

Your submission will be evaluated by the evaluation team first reviewing the information and content you have submitted at the submission form, with attachments used as additional context to your form submission. Submissions relying solely on attachments will receive less attention from the evaluation team.

After the Challenge submission due date, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the winning solution(s) according to the timeline in the Challenge header. All Solvers who submit a proposal will be notified about the status of their submissions.

 

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