The Trinity team is using biomechanics to figure out why we lose hair


We all have damaged hair and split ends are common. However, the science behind this damage needs to be better understood. This is why Professor David Taylor and his team at Trinity College Dublin are investigating it. Professor Taylor, who is a pioneer in the study of natural materials such as bone and shells, began a unique and exciting journey when he was approached by L'Oréal to investigate the biomechanics of hair.

Together with his colleagues, he designed an innovative 'moving loop fatigue machine' to replicate the process of combing tangled hair. His findings, a testament to his ingenuity, have recently been published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface Focus.

Two types of hair were tested: one from a person who had split ends and one from a person who did not have split ends. Using the machine, the team created split ends in both, but the split ends split faster and were longer. The most surprising discovery was that normally split hair began to split like bleached hair, revealing a previously unknown aspect of hair biomechanics.

Machines often split a hair along its entire length, just as people do when drying and combing their hair. Some hairs split, and some don't; researchers investigate the effects of cosmetic treatments on hair quality.

Professor David Taylor said this is the first step towards scientifically understanding how hair splits. This research will lead to future studies involving more types of hair and factors such as humidity, temperature and treatment. He said hair is complex and we know very little about it. However, this work could benefit the cosmetics industry and people everywhere.

Team member Robert Teeling said he didn't expect to study hair as an engineering student, but found the project rewarding. He designed a new machine and learned that hair, like any other material, can break from mechanical forces such as combing and brushing and is sensitive to how it is treated.

This is the first step toward scientifically understanding how hair splits. This research will lead to future studies involving more types of hair and factors such as humidity, temperature, and treatment. Researchers found that hair is complex and they know very little about it. However, this work could be beneficial to the cosmetics industry and people everywhere.

Team member Robert Teeling said he didn't expect to study hair as an engineering student, but found the project rewarding. He designed a new machine and learned that hair, like any other material, can break from mechanical forces such as combing and brushing and is sensitive to how it is treated.

In conclusion, the Trinity team used biomechanics to study why hair gets split ends and has bad hair days. Their research is the first step towards better understanding hair behaviour and could help improve hair care in the future.

Journal Reference:

  1. David Taylor, Ellen Barton, et al., Biomechanics of Splitting Hair. Royal Society of Interface Focus. DOI: 10.1098/rsfs.2023.0063.




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