Why sunflowers are good for you (and your hair)


The meaning of the sunflower revolves around the concept of light, cheerfulness, energy and vitality. In one word: sunshine. From July to September, when it is in full bloom, its round shape and the bright colour of the petals are reminiscent of the sun. The name itself bears the mark of this close relationship: not only sunflower in Italian, tournesol in French, Sonnenblume in German and sunflower in English, but also Helianthus annuus, its Latin botanical name, derives from the Greek words helios, sun, and anthos, flower.

The constant tension towards light has inspired art and imagination, from ancient times to the present day.

Greek mythology tells the tale of the nymph Clizia, who, madly in love with the god Apollo, could not help but observe him driving the chariot of the sun across the sky from east to west, without ever losing sight of him. After 9 days spent following her beloved with her eyes, she was finally transformed into the sunflower, which orients its face towards the sun just like the nymph did. Ovid tells this story in the Metamorphoses, concluding that “although held back by the roots, she always turns towards her Sun, and so still holds her love for him”. Over the centuries the ascendancy of the sunflower has influenced art in various forms, from Van Gogh’s painting to Montale’s poetry.

Science hasn’t been immune to the sunflower’s charm.

The sun is essential for plants, which must endure marked variations in light and heat over the course of 24 hours. Orienting itself towards the sun, the sunflower naturally exposes itself to greater radiation than other flowers. For this reason, nature has endowed its seeds with a particularly strong protection system to guarantee the future of the species: the specific function of the seeds is in fact to survive in unfavorable conditions and propagate the plant without harmful biochemical alterations.

The sunflower, native to the sunny regions of America and already a food source for the natives of North and South America, is now grown in all tropical and temperate regions essentially for its oil, which is obtained by cold pressing of the seeds. In cosmetics, sunflower oil is a good emollient and nourishing ingredient due to its richness in unsaturated fatty acids. The floury residue of the seeds that remains after separating the oily component is rich in proteins, minerals and active substances important for the protection of the plant from the sun: it is from this component that Integrity 41® is obtained, a registered trademark of z.one conceptTM, for the special hydro-glycolic sunflower extract rich in antioxidant polyphenols, so named for its protection from stress factors that threaten the integrity of the hair.

What are the stress factors that can affect hair?

The UV rays of the sun combined with pollution, wind, chemical treatments, combing, brushing and heated tools are all potential aggressors capable of attacking the hair on 4 levels:

• breaking-down of pigments: hair contains melanin, responsible for hair colour and the natural mechanism of protection from free radicals. When sun exposure is excessive, there is a point where melanin alone is no longer sufficient to ensure adequate protection and what occurs is photo-degradation, resulting in lightening and fading of both natural and cosmetic colour;

• alteration of proteins and in particular of keratin, with increased porosity and loss of smoothness and brightness of the hair which thus becomes rough, brittle, dull and prone to split ends;

• decrease in water content, with a consequent tendency to dryness and brittleness;

• oxidation of lipids, with loss of flexibility, weakening of the hair shaft and difficulty in styling.

How does Integrity 41® work?

From the scientific studies carried out on Integrity 41® sunflower seed extract, 2 fundamental properties emerge:

• a marked repairing action against damage caused by mechanical and chemical stress, directly or indirectly linked to the sun;

• a specific protective function, to prevent the loss of cosmetic pigments caused by daily exposure to environmental factors including UV rays and following repeated washing.

Thanks to its content in antioxidant polyphenols, already essential for the protection of the seeds of the flower, Integrity 41® has a strong anti-free radical activity: this means that the sunflower extract captures the reactive kind of free radicals and acts as a “bodyguard” for the hair, and it is this property that makes it an ingredient of choice for preventing and repairing damage from sun exposure or due to aggressive shampoos. Integrity 41® is ideal for all hair types, and is particularly suitable for the protection of colour-treated hair, for which the risk of colour-fading increases with increased washing and in response to the effects of sunlight.

This is why we have chosen Integrity 41® as a star ingredient across many lines of the milk_shake® brand: it is found in our best-selling whipped cream and in numerous shampoos, conditioners, leave-in conditioners, styling products and colours. In all these formulations it helps to repair, protect colour and ensure a healthy and vital appearance of the hair.

Integrity 41® comes from a flower that is the quintessence of sunshine, it is an ingredient that actively repairs and protects the hair, giving it a radiant appearance and an extraordinarily vibrant colour, for longer.


• in the sunflower, the charm of this flower that rotates follows the sun is associated with a particularly effective natural protection system of the seeds;

• the extract of the seeds is rich in antioxidant polyphenols that are effective in protecting against stress factors that threaten the integrity of the hair;

• Integrity 41® is the ingredient of choice in milk_shake® to repair and protect hair colour.