Hair dyeing poised for first major transformation in 150 years

March 2, 2011, American Chemical Society

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: Hair color of unknown offenders is no longer a secret

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

Related Stories

Hair color of unknown offenders is no longer a secret

January 3, 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?

February 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

Bio-renewable process could help 'green' plastic

January 19, 2018

When John Wesley Hyatt patented the first industrial plastic in 1869, his intention was to create an alternative to the elephant tusk ivory used to make piano keys. But this early plastic also sparked a revolution in the ...

Simulations show how atoms behave inside self-healing cement

January 19, 2018

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a self-healing cement that could repair itself in as little as a few hours. Wellbore cement for geothermal applications has a life-span of only 30 ...

Looking to the sun to create hydrogen fuel

January 18, 2018

When Lawrence Livermore scientist Tadashi Ogitsu leased a hydrogen fuel-cell car in 2017, he knew that his daily commute would change forever. There are no greenhouse gases that come out of the tailpipe, just a bit of water ...

A new polymer raises the bar for lithium-sulfur batteries

January 18, 2018

Lithium-sulfur batteries are promising candidates for replacing common lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles since they are cheaper, weigh less, and can store nearly double the energy for the same mass. However, lithium-sulfur ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.