8 Apr 2016

Bullish Future for Semen-Spiked Shampoo?

From Country Life, 9:19 pm on 8 April 2016

The teaser steer is tied up.

In the next pen a bull is snorting and bellowing and looking rather agitated.

A collection is about to be taken from him. However it won't be used to inseminate a cow but rather some of it will end up in a rather expensive bottle of shampoo.

The Natural Protein Company has launched a range of hair care products with bovine seminal plasma (BSP) as a key ingredient.

Dr Vish Vishwanath is the Natural Protein Company's technical director. He is a reproductive scientist who has spent his career working with bull semen.

"If somebody thinks they are putting bull sperm on their head, that's not true," he says with a laugh. "We don't actually put bull sperm on their head. We take it out."

Once a collection is taken from a bull, the semen is put in a centrifuge to remove the sperm. The remaining liquid is called seminal plasma. It is then purified and the bio-protein extracted.

Dr Vishwanath says the protein has natural qualities that are anti-bacterial, nourishing to help keep sperm alive and work to protect the tail of the sperm.

Those attributes also benefit hair, he says.

Independent tests conducted at a Crown Research Institute show the protein increases the tensile strength of chemically damaged hair.

"There is real good science behind it. It's not just a feel good factor or some kind of mumbo jumbo behind it" Dr Vishwanath says.

He says about 10-15 percent of non-treated hair will break under normal circumstances. "But when you treat hair, that is when you colour hair, because of the fact you use bleach and various other chemicals it reduces the strength of the hair... and it increases the breakage ..but when you go back and treat it with this particular protein it almost comes back to what we call virgin hair or normal hair that hasn't been treated."

Natural Protein's managing director Lynne Webster is also a bull farmer. She says the Imprivo product range is trademarked into Japan and she sees it having a place in top-end salons in the United Kingdom, the United States and Hong Kong.

She says some customers are seeking products with total traceability through DNA testing and that is something the Natural Protein Company is considering. 

Ms Webster says once the hair care range has found its feet the company will look at putting the bulls to work to help with the production of cosmetics.

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