Yes, You Can Dye Your Hair With Gold


I’ve colored my hair in many-a-places, with many-a-products. (Remember Sun-In? Gosh.) Naturally (pun!), after hearing about a recent scientific experiment using gold nanoparticles to dye hair, I absolutely had to learn more. And the deeper I dig, the more I realize that the future of aesthetics is, indeed, limitless.

Admittedly, a new technique for color-processing hair doesn’t seem to be a high priority in the scientific community. But, just as design and aesthetics are often inspired and conceived throughout multiple platforms, scientific discoveries can take surprising detours. Gold nanotechnology (a basic term for the study of very, very small particles) is a focus in incredibly groundbreaking scientific discoveries, from detecting cancer stem cells to exposing trace amounts of chemical pollutants. Yet perhaps a more vanity-driven byproduct? It can dye hair.

The process is intense, but surprisingly affordable. According to Philippe Walter, Ph.D. at Université Pierre et Marie Curie-CNRS, roughly $30 of gold is used in saturating the collective hair strands – a small price to pay for infusing your hair with precious metals a la Grecian goddesses. “Companies have to work on the dying [using gold nanotechnology] before it can be used in salons,” writes Walter, as the treatment can take up to 16 days to process. “It depends, in our case, on the density and the distribution of nanoparticles. Even if the nanoparticles are extremely small, they can interact with light and then produce a modification of the color of the fiber.”

The color, of course, is another factor. A result of the treatment causes hair to “glow” in ultraviolet lighting – an idea that might intensify your typical nightclub experience, yes, but can also mean incredible advancements in the realm of green chemistry. “We can use the treated hair to measure if there are pollutants in water,” writes Walter, an idea explored in the manufacturing of nanobots to clean up oil spills.

The uses don’t stop there. From couture fashion to bio-artificial organs, nanotechnology promises a bright future indeed. (Some might even call it golden.)

Image Credit: Charlie Engman

p.s. Just for fun: Golden art installations, gold edible spray-paint and the prettiest golden girl around.

    • @Gloria – You’re probably right! But I’m so excited by the possibilities of what it might mean for sourcing contaminants in a greener fashion.

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