Yes you heard it here first.Manchester’s wonder Material Graphene is being used to address an issue that has plagued the beauty industry for more than a century.
Dying hair too often can irreparably damage your silky strands.
Researchers at the American Northwestern University have used materials science to solve this age-old problem.
The team has leveraged super material graphene to develop a new hair dye that is non-toxic, non-damaging and lasts through many washes without fading.
Graphene’s conductive nature,they also say, opens up new opportunities for hair, such as turning it into in situ electrodes or integrating it with wearable electronic devices.
Ever since graphene burst onto the science scene in 2004 after being identified at the University of Manchester, the possibilities for the promising material have seemed nearly endless. With its ultra-strong and lightweight structure, graphene has potential for many applications in high-performance electronics, high-strength materials and energy devices.
Dying hair might seem simple and ordinary, but it’s actually a sophisticated chemical process.
Called the cuticle, the outermost layer of a hair is made of cells that overlap in a scale-like pattern.
Commercial dyes work by using harsh chemicals, such as ammonia and bleach, to first pry open the cuticle scales to allow colorant molecules inside and then trigger a reaction inside the hair to produce more colour.
Not only does this process cause hair to become more fragile, some of the small molecules are also quite toxic.
Jiaxing Huang, a materials scientist at the University and his team bypassed harmful chemicals altogether by leveraging the natural geometry of graphene sheets.
While current hair dyes use a cocktail of small molecules that work by chemically altering the hair, graphene sheets are soft and flexible, so they wrap around each hair for an even coat.
Huang’s formula also incorporates edible, non-toxic polymer binders to ensure that the graphene sticks — and lasts through at least 30 washes, which is the commercial requirement for permanent hair dye.
An added bonus: graphene is anti-static, so it keeps winter-weather flyaways to a minimum.
“It’s similar to the difference between a wet paper towel and a tennis ball,” Huang explained, comparing the geometry of graphene to that of other black pigment particles, such as carbon black or iron oxide, which can only be used in temporary hair dyes. “The paper towel is going to wrap and stick much better. The ball-like particles are much more easily removed with shampoo.”
This geometry also contributes to why graphene is a safer alternative. Whereas small molecules can easily be inhaled or pass through the skin barrier, graphene is too big to enter the body. “Compared to those small molecules used in current hair dyes, graphene flakes are humongous,” said Huang.