Does your shampoo truly relax you?

"The relaxing shampoo and serum PIVOINE range, KLORANE both had physiological and behavioral effects that pointed to relaxation..."

Does your shampoo truly relax you?

Noldus Consultant: Xandra van der Linden and Leanne Loijens, PhD
Case study write up: Leanne Loijens, PhD

Do you know that feeling when you are super-relaxed after you have washed your hair?
Is it the water on your head?
Or the relaxing effect of massaging your scalp?
The shampoo you use?

All of the above?

Shampoo and hair serum

Our client claimed to have developed a shampoo and a hair serum (PIVOINE range, KLORANE) that have superior relaxing effects.

They approached Noldus Consulting to carry out a scientific study to prove this claim. Nutrition and health claims on products made in the European Union must be clear, accurate, and based on scientific evidence (Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006). Claims that could mislead consumers are prohibited on the EU market. This not only protects consumers, but also promotes innovation and ensures fair competition. The behavioral experts at Noldus Consulting were brought on board to verify these claims.

Relaxation is not the same as laziness or drowsiness. When you are truly relaxed, you can be physically relaxed yet mentally alert. The relaxation response brings the body back to a normal physiological equilibrium after a stress response.

The Noldus Method

For the shampoo/serum study we measured a variety of parameters. The Noldus toolkit included behavioral assessments along with physiological measurements (blood pressure, electrodermal activity, heart rate), all of which decrease when you relax. Behaviorally, people in a relaxed state typically show decreased movement and a relaxed posture (legs flung out when sitting, and less sitting upright).

The question was: where to test the products? The ideal way to study behavior is to measure it in a natural environment. In our case that would mean at home, in the shower. Of course, that is not very practical. Not only will few subjects be willing to be filmed in a shower, but also because we equipped the participants with an Empatica wristband to measure their physiology. Instead, we carried out the tests in a hotel and asked the participants to wash their arm instead of their hair. Participants sat in an easy chair where their overall behavior was filmed prior to and after using the shampoo/serum.

The tests were conducted in two hotel rooms; in one room a control (neutral) shampoo/serum was used, while in the other room participants used the relaxing shampoo/serum. We alternated the control and test room between test days.


  • Findings

The relaxing shampoo and serum both had physiological and behavioral effects that pointed to relaxation, with serum having an impact on blood pressure and heart rate, and shampoo on EDA and interbeat intervals. We did not find an effect of the shampoo/serum on leg movement, but there was a decrease in the number of posture switches after the relaxing serum and a decrease in the time spent sitting upright after the relaxing shampoo. For our client this was very good news, of course, as it backed up the claims being made by the company, thereby satisfying the legal rules laid out by the European Union.

  • The relaxing shampoo and serum both had physiological and behavioral effects that pointed to relaxation.

Of course, many additional questions have arisen that are of interest to our client:

  • Why do the shampoo and the serum have different effects?
  • Is it the difference in chemical composition or the concentration of active ingredients?
  • Does exposure time play a role? Unlike the serum condition, the fragrance of the shampoo disappeared to a large extent as participants washed their arm.


  • The outcome

The relaxing shampoo and serum are on the market since April this year, with their claim backed up by scientific data!



Allen et al. (2001) Normalization of hypertensive responses during ambulatory surgical stress by perioperative music. Psychosom. Med. 63 (3): 487-492.

Benson, H. and Klipper, M.Z. (2000). The relaxation response. HarperCollins, 240 pp.

Chapadosand, C. and Levitin, D.J. (2008) Cross-modal interactions in the experience of musical performances: physiological correlates. Cognition 108 (3): 639-651.

Roque et al. (2013) The effects of auditory stimulation with music on heart rate variability in healthy women. Clinics 68 (7): 960-967.

Wallbott, H.G. (1998) Bodily expression of emotions. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 28: 879-896.




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