Graphene Hair Dye Is Coming, And It Looks Incredible

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 Chem 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.

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 toxic solvents, or molecular ingredients, or extreme heat, you don’t have to worry about damaging your hair, skin, or yourself. The color lasts for at least 30 washes, like what you expect from 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.

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).

So when will you be able to pick up a box of this dye at Walgreens? I asked Jiaxing Huang, research lead and professor of materials science and engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering: “I am optimistic,” he says, although he couldn’t give me a precise timeline yet. There’s no word on potential price points for a final product either. Right now, the main problem holding them back is the available colors. Their graphene-based dye comes in different shades of black and brown at the moment. There’s no blonde, red, or any other hue. However, Huang tells me that they already have some ideas about how to solve this: “Once we secure research funding to work on this, we expect [the other colors] can happen within a few years.”

So we’ll have to wait at least “a few years” for the perfect cyber dye job. Until then, the closest thing to a holy grail of hair color is still at the salon.

Not At Home Please.

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If you want to go from dark brown to a lightest light blonde get thee to a hair salon. Don’t try this at home.  That said, many friends and beauty editors I know turn to the box when coloring their hair. These days boxed color can be gorgeous. But you have to do it right, go to a salon. Here are the biggest mistakes women make when doing their color themselves.

They Bet Their Hair Color on the Picture on the Box

Pictures on hair color boxes can be deceiving. Go by the color swatches and the descriptions instead. Most boxes will call out the color (blonde, brown, black and red) and the shade of that color (light, medium and dark). There might also be mention of the tone (golden or ashy).  Go to the salon please.

They Try to Do It Themselves

Try as you might, it’s virtually impossible for you to see the back of your head. This is why I recommend enlisting a friend, family member or even your boyfriend or husband to help you color your hair. The process will go so much more smoothly.  You get what you pay for my friends.

They Leave the Color on Too Long

Always set a timer for your hair. Many women end up leaving the color on their hair too long and end up with over-processed hair.  Over-processed hair is very unattractive.

They Rinse Their Hair Out in a Sink

Kitchen and bathroom sinks don’t have enough water pressure to rinse out the hair chemicals completely, which can damage hair. Instead, step into the shower and rinse your hair thoroughly.

They Don’t Read the Instructions

Box color has been around forever, so they’ve gotten the directions down. If they didn’t, women wouldn’t buy again. Just because you’ve dyed your hair before at home with one brand doesn’t mean another brand of hair color stays on the same amount of time.

Always read the directions before proceeding. Let the hair colorist do it.

They Run Out of Product

If you have thick, curly or long hair, you run the risk of running out of product as you apply it. Always buy two boxes of hair color.  A salon atmosphere has everything for your hair coloring service, including wine.

They’re Commitment-Phobic

Some women have what I call “Hair Color ADHD.” Like singles who are commitment-phobic, the minute they find a hair color they like they’re ready to try something new. Finding a color you love is like winning the lottery. You could be making a huge mistake trying a different color or different brand.

They Choose the Wrong Color Tone for Their Complexion

Most of us would like to think we are both warm and cool. But when it comes to hair color, it’s important to know which one you really are (and it has nothing to do with your fantastic personality).

They’re Unhappy With All-Over Color

If you look closely at the hair of a child or a woman whose hair you absolutely love, you’ll notice there are many shades of color. All-over color from a box is basically a wash of one color. If one-dimensional hair is not what you’re after, you might be better off getting highlights at a salon.

They’re Brunettes Trying to Go Blonde or Red

Again, anything more than 2 shades darker or lighter than your natural hair color, should be done in a salon. Taking black or brown hair to blonde or red is absolutely possible, but is usually a complicated process that could involve more than one visit to the salon.

To determine if blonde or red is right for you, try on wigs first to see if the color washes you out or enhances your look. And then head to the salon to get the job done. Don’t pick up a box. Women who have red in their skin and burn easily should stick to cool shades described on the box as “ash,” “beige” or “cool brown.” Warmer colors will only bring out the redness in your skin. Some women fall somewhere in the middle and can look good in a wide range of warm and cool shades.

Joseph Kellner Salon Orlando, Florida 32819