Hair dyeing poised for first major transformation in 150 years

Mar 02, 2011

Technological progress may be fast-paced in many fields, but one mundane area has been almost left in the doldrums for the last 150 years: The basic technology for permanently coloring hair. That's the conclusion of an analysis of almost 500 articles and patents on the chemistry of permanent hair dyeing, which foresees much more innovation in the years ahead, including longer lasting, more-natural-looking dyes and gene therapy to reverse the gray. The article appears in ACS's journal Chemical Reviews.

Robert Christie and Olivier Morel note that hair dye already is a multibillion dollar international industry, poised for even greater expansion in the future due to the graying of a global population yearning to cling to appearances of youth. Most permanent hair coloring technology, however, is based on a 150-year-old approach that uses p-phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical that produces darker, browner shades when exposed to air. Concern over the safety of PPD and other hair dye ingredients, and demand for more convenient hair dyeing methods, has fostered an upswing in research on new dyes and alternative hair coloring technologies.

The scientists describe progress toward those goals. Future hair coloring techniques include nano-sized colorants, for instance. Composed of 1/5,000th the width of a human hair, they will penetrate the hair and remain trapped inside for longer-lasting hair coloration. Scientists also are developing substances that stimulate the genes to produce the melanin pigment that colors hair. These substances promise to produce a wider range of more natural-looking colors, from blond to dark brown and black, with less likelihood of raising concerns about toxicity and better prospects for more natural results. Other new technologies may stop graying of the hair or prevent its formation altogether, the scientists say.

Explore further: How to prevent organic food fraud

More information: "Current Trends in the Chemistry of Permanent Hair Dyeing" Chemical Reviews.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hair color of unknown offenders is no longer a secret

Jan 03, 2011

The hair color of an unknown perpetrator who has committed a crime will soon no longer be a secret for forensic investigators. Erasmus MC scientists, in collaboration with their Polish colleagues, have discovered that DNA ...

Probing Question: Does stress produce gray hair?

Feb 18, 2007

A reporter struggling to meet a deadline. A single mother juggling work and kids. A student cramming for exams. Could any of these folks justifiably fault their harried lifestyles when they notice a few gray hairs?

Recommended for you

Team pioneers strategy for creating new materials

Aug 29, 2014

Making something new is never easy. Scientists constantly theorize about new materials, but when the material is manufactured it doesn't always work as expected. To create a new strategy for designing materials, ...

Plug n' Play protein crystals

Aug 29, 2014

Almost a hundred years ago in 1929 Linus Pauling presented the famous Pauling's Rules to describe the principles governing the structure of complex ionic crystals. These rules essentially describe how the ...

Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials

Aug 28, 2014

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy have shown that a synthetic protein called AGMA1 has the potential to promote the adhesion of brain cells in a laboratory setting. This could prove helpful ...

User comments : 0