Tuesday, January 25, 2011


For those of us who were young in the '60's, the mention of "Hair" brings up memories of the musical. But these are more sober times, and researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, working with L'Oreal Paris, are not singing about hair. They're trying to determine one reason you have a bad hair day.

Each of your hair strands is coated with a layer of fatty acids, plus "unusual" molecules resting on the surface. By attaching a hair snippet sixty micrometers long to the tip of an atomic force microscope probe, the scientists discovered the following:

Hair strands tend to repel each other at a distance. (This explains Einstein's 'do.)

Closer than 15 nanometers, hair strands attract each other.

Bleaching your hair removes much of the fatty layer, reducing the attractive property, and accounting for the dried out "haystack" look without conditioner (which Einstein could have used).

All this is interesting but not very useful (unless you're Einstein). I have to have my hair colored again today (85% of women over sixteen color their hair). I dislike sitting in the salon being fussed over. What I really want is for researchers to discover what will stop hair permanently from graying. Where is science when you truly need it?

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