Using heat to style curly hair poses a nagging problem. Applying too much causes permanent damage resulting in limp fibres devoid of natural curve.
American researchers at Purdue University, Indiana are now working to learn precisely how much heat to apply and how frequently to use heat treatment for a given hair type without destroying it.
“We are wanting to see the point at which hair becomes permanently straightened, it’s otherwise called heat damage. And if we understand the onset at which that happens then we might me able to intervene before or give some suggestions before you get to that point,” explained Tahira Reid Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Purdue University.
The team used an infrared microscope, an infrared camera, a heating iron attached to a robotic arm, and other hi-tech instruments to examine hair.
In particular, researchers studied how hair reacts to heat depending on various factors including the cross-sectional area of hair fibres and the degree of curl.
“What we can see from the IR camera is the temperature of the hair as a function of a position in time. What we are actually measuring is how the temperature evolves in the strand of hair as we move the straightening iron over it,” Amy Marconnet Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Purdue University pointed out.
Preliminary results showed the science of hair is challenging mainly because everyone’s hair is different.
But one conclusion is that African American hair seems more susceptible to heat damage Caucasian hair.