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Graphene Hair Dye Is Coming, And It Looks Incredible

• Fastco Design

A research team at Northwestern University has discovered a way to use sheets of graphene to dye hair. Unlike current chemical hair coloring products, the scientists report in the journal Cell  that their new dye is nontoxic, antibacterial, antistatic, and you can apply it yourself with a spray. It looks like we can add "the holy grail of hair color" to graphene's seemingly endless list of applications.

Hair before (blond) and after (black) being dyed with the graphene-based hair dye. [Photo: courtesy Northwestern University]

This is how it works: The user applies the graphene dye using a spray, then brushes the hair and dries it. The graphene forms a gentle film around each and every hair strand. Like in a sci-fi movie, your hair will change color before your very eyes as the sheets of graphene attach themselves to your mane. And since the research team says their method doesn't require solvents, toxic molecular ingredients, or extreme heat, you don't have to worry about damaging your hair, skin, or yourself. After 30 washes, like any conventional chemical-based dye, the graphene material will disappear leaving your hair in the exact same state as it was when you applied it.

Your graphene-enhanced superhero hair will also have some other super powers. First, it's anti-static–so you can say goodbye to flyaway hairs. Secondly, it's antibacterial–your hair will stay cleaner longer. Third: thermal regulation capabilities. In theory, your graphene-enhanced hair will be able to regulate the heat on your head better than your regular hair.

Untreated hairs (a) and hairs dyed with a commercial permanent black hair dye (b) both exhibit "flyaway" effect upon electrostatic charging, induced by rubbing with a plastic sheet. In contrast, graphene-coated hairs (c) do not charge. [Photo: courtesy Northwestern University]

The fourth power is quite intriguing. The Northwestern team mentions that your graphene-treated hair will be able to interface with electronic components, since the coating can carry an electrical current. I can't imagine the potential applications for this one–beyond adding LED beads that could display different colors depending on the thermal conditions of your scalp (purple for anger, for instance, or green for happiness).

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