Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new way to create a spectrum of natural-looking hair colours. These range from blond to black, by using enzymes to catalyse synthetic melanin.
The study has been published in the journal Chemistry of Materials.
According to the research lead and associate director for the International Institute for Nanotechnology, Nathan Gianneschi, every type of organism produces melanin, making it a readily available and versatile material to use in the lab.
Melanin is an enigmatic and ubiquitous material often found in the form of brown or black pigment.
Gianneschi, who said, “In humans, it’s in the back of our eye to help with vision, it’s in our skin to help with protecting skin cells from UV dama,” added: “But birds also use it as a spectacular color display — peacock feathers are made of melanin entirely.”
Four key advantages identified by the paper to using synthetic melanin instead of traditional dyes are:
* Synthetic melanin avoids the use of ammonia as a base layer.
* The precursors to treating hair with melanin are less toxic.
* The process uses safer, more scalable chemicals.
* There is vast potential in future cosmetic translations of synthetic melanin.
Since melanin also fades in hair due to sun exposure and aging, researchers also wondered about the sun’s impact on the dye.
Along with being a milder process than traditional dye, coating hair in synthetic melanin holds potential to protect hair from sun damage that can cause whitening. Studies showed that compared to untreated hair, hair treated with melanin pigment was damaged less when exposed to ultraviolet rays.
(With inputs from The OnLook News Research Bureau)
Disclaimer: This story including advice/suggestions provides only generic information. It is not at all a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always have a consultation with a specialist or your doctor for more information. The OnLook never claims responsibility for this information.
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