Hair damage is a common issue that many people face, with split ends being a particularly frustrating problem. Despite its prevalence, the science behind hair damage, especially split ends, has long been poorly understood. However, a team at Trinity College Dublin, led by Professor David Taylor, is taking steps to unravel this knotty problem. By developing a specialized machine, they aim to shed light on the biomechanics of hair splitting, paving the way for future studies in the field.

The team at Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with cosmetics company L’Oreal, developed the “Moving Loop Fatigue machine” to simulate the effects of combing tangled hair. This innovative machine was meticulously designed to recreate the process of hair splitting, allowing researchers to study the phenomenon in a controlled environment. The results of their research were recently published in the journal Interface Focus, providing valuable insights into the mechanisms behind split ends.

The team tested two types of hair: one from a person with split ends and one from a person without this issue. Using the Moving Loop Fatigue machine, they were able to generate splits in both types of hair. Interestingly, the hair that was prone to splitting exhibited faster and longer splits compared to the healthy hair. Moreover, when the healthy hair was bleached, it began to split in a manner similar to the split-prone sample.

Isobel Duffy, a researcher on the team, expressed surprise at the effectiveness of the machine in replicating the splitting of hair. She highlighted how a single strand of hair could split into two along its entire length, mimicking the natural process that occurs when some individuals dry and comb their hair. This breakthrough has enabled the researchers to study the factors that contribute to hair splitting and explore the impact of various cosmetic treatments on hair quality.

Professor David Taylor emphasized that this research serves as a crucial first step towards understanding the biomechanics of hair splitting. By laying the groundwork for future studies involving a diverse range of hair types and environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature, the team aims to deepen their understanding of this complex material. This knowledge could have significant implications for the cosmetics industry and individuals worldwide who prioritize hair care.

Robert Teeling, another member of the team, reflected on his unexpected journey into hair research. Starting as an Engineering student at Trinity College Dublin, he never envisioned himself testing hair during his Masters’ year. However, the opportunity to contribute to groundbreaking research in the field of hair damage has opened his eyes to the intricacies of hair biomechanics and the potential for impactful discoveries.

The work being done at Trinity College Dublin to investigate the science of split ends is paving the way for a more systematic and comprehensive understanding of hair damage. Through the innovative use of the Moving Loop Fatigue machine, researchers are uncovering new insights into the factors that influence hair splitting, with implications for the development of tailored hair care solutions and treatments. As our knowledge of hair biomechanics continues to evolve, the potential for transformative advancements in the field of hair science remains abundant.


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