The team investigate the incredible, natural material growing out of our heads - our hair - with access to the laboratories of some of the world's leading hair care companies.
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Stand by, everyone.
Hair really is the crowning glory and it can represent you
in so many different ways.
Hair is the most important thing with your identity.
I think my hair says I'm a bit Bohemian.
It's, like, totally free. Flouncy, bouncy - a bit like me.
There's also something that you can see - immediately see.
It's like clothes you're wearing.
You're making, effectively, a statement.
Each one of us has a unique head of hair,
whether it's straight, curly,
coloured or natural.
Around 150,000 individual hair strands,
growing approximately one centimetre every month.
Horizon has gathered together a team of scientists and doctors,
to investigate this precious material growing out of our heads.
We're entering a world where science and business operate hand-in-hand.
The time and effort that we put into our hair
creates a global hair care market
worth a staggering £60 billion.
An estimated £1.5 billion of that
is spent on hair loss treatments.
That's four times the amount that we spend on malaria research.
'The growing list of hair care products caters to our every
'possible need and seems to offer the world.'
It's actually got an ingredient which can reduce hair growth.
You know, it actually mends things like split ends.
It stops the hair from falling out.
And it also gets rid of frizz.
Today, some of the most popular hair care products
are sold on the basis that they work scientifically.
But with more and more products competing with each other
to make ever-bolder claims,
it's not easy to work out what the scientific evidence actually is.
You know, anything that claims to be "free from",
you should look at what else is in their ingredients.
We're going to sort the science from the spin
and untangle some of the most common hair care myths.
We've gained access to the research laboratories of some of the world's
leading hair care companies.
We have almost 4,000 scientists across the world
working to develop these new products.
We're investigating the latest cutting-edge technology.
Well, there's only one machine of this type.
We'll test that for 250,000 cycles,
before we deem it as being OK.
And we have answers to some of the most essential questions.
Is there absolutely no damage to the hair?
We cannot say zero, never, nothing, nyet.
How much of this information is available to the public?
How much is in the public domain?
As a team, we're going to reveal the latest scientific discoveries
that push the boundaries of our knowledge of this
extraordinary natural material...
Hair is really important to our looks.
It's our biggest accessory.
Our hair is something we have to wear every single day.
The thing about hair is it's one part of you that you get to design.
A lot of people laugh at me or maybe point and say, "Your hair".
And I just acknowledge it and move on.
I think a lot of importance is put on hair, whether we like it or not.
As a busy scientist, the state of my hair is not always my top priority.
But I like to feel the style I've chosen reflects
some of my personality,
although it doesn't always go to plan.
We've all had them - days when our hair just doesn't do the right thing
and when your hair doesn't do what you want it to do,
nothing else seems to go right, either.
It can make or break a good day or a bad day.
Good hair - great day. Bad hair - it's not going to work out
as well as I hope it is.
My hair has been very loyal to me.
All this time, I've never had problems.
The ones that did, I pulled them out straight away...
Research carried out at Yale University concluded
that a bad hair day can negatively affect
a person's self-esteem and social insecurity.
Bad hair days - more make-up day for me.
As a molecular biologist,
I know that what's sitting on top of my head
is just a mass of dead protein.
So, why does it have such a big impact on my mood?
'One theory is that it's down to the split-second judgments we make
'when we meet people for the first time.
'Psychologist Graham Hole believes
'that these early moments are critical.'
It takes as little as 13 milliseconds to decide
whether you find a face attractive or unattractive.
-That's really short. What's that...?
-That's faster than you can actually
consciously be aware that you've seen anything.
'Graham believes our hair plays a key role in these unconscious judgments.'
What we do know, from eye-tracking studies, for example,
is that the external parts of the face are very important
for recognising faces you've only just seen for the first time.
So, the hair and the face shape.
Whereas, the internal part of the face is important
for recognising faces that you know well.
Just a neutral expression.
Graham wants to show me just how influential our hair can be.
-Yeah, that looks really good.
He's recruited pairs of mothers and daughters
willing to swap their hairstyles with each other.
Mothers will get the daughter's hairstyle
and the daughters will get the mother's hairstyle.
According to Graham,
the change of hairstyle should influence the first impressions
the mothers and daughters make.
OK, so, could all the daughters please go upstairs,
while the mothers have their wigs put on?
We spend millions of pounds on hair care products.
So, hair is obviously very important to us.
But we don't know what kind of role it plays in the perception of things
like age, health, attractiveness and so on.
So, this experiment is trying to see what effect simply a change
of hairstyle will do to the person's face.
The mothers are given wigs similar to their daughters'
I think I look silly.
I think I look like somebody from a heavy metal rock band - male.
And the daughters are styled in wigs that match their mothers'
It's just not for me, is it?!
I look like a small boy!
it's time to see what they think of their new looks.
OK, three, two, one...
OK, Maddy, do you think your mum looks good in that hairstyle?
-Actually, I think she looks rather lovely.
She looks a bit dowdy.
And it makes you look like you're trying too hard, as well.
The new styles may not have gone down well in our salon,
but the real test is to see how they're perceived by strangers.
OK, we're doing a survey about person perception.
Can I ask you how old you think this woman is, to the nearest year?
-I would say around 20.
I would say 21.
When Graham analyses the data,
a familiar pattern emerges.
With previous experiments, we've got similar kinds of age differences.
So, the daughters' ages were increased by a couple of years
and the mothers' ages were decreased by about four years or so.
Change in the perceived age of our pairs is particularly marked
in one mother.
There was a whopping reduction of about seven years in the age of
one of the mothers, making her look about seven years younger
-than she actually was.
-Seven years is quite substantial, actually.
How would you explain that?
Presumably the participants in our study paid more attention
to the hair and that biased their overall, kind of, age estimate.
'Graham believes the younger hair styles send out telling signals.'
In our past, it might have been equivalent to a peacock's tail.
It, kind of, basically says, "Look, I've got so many kind of resources
"that I can afford to squander them in long tresses."
For our ancestors, it would have been very useful for them
to pay attention to hair, because it would have been an honest signal
to the age of the person concerned.
So, at least, in our past, it has been a good strategy
for helping us to decide whether somebody's worth mating with.
The importance of our hair
may have its origins in our evolutionary past,
but it remains a powerful part of our identity in the modern world
and this deep attachment to our hair is perhaps most apparent
when we are faced with the prospect of its loss.
I think the possibility of losing my hair would be dramatic.
I am very worried about losing my hair.
I think it is a lot worse for a lady than it is for a guy.
Post-pregnancy, I lost quite a lot of hair.
It's quite... It provokes quite a lot of anxiety.
Whilst I have come to accept it now
and it is part of who I am,
and now I'm totally fine with it, even looking back,
I see it as being
one of my periods of life trauma.
First response paramedic Joe
noticed the initial signs of hair loss in his early teens.
I've brought some pictures.
I've got one when I just started high school, and one a couple of
years after. When I started high school I must have been what, 11 years old?
And I've got a perfectly straight line of hair across my forehead,
but two years later I'd lost 50%
of that hair in that corner.
And I can personally see now, back then it didn't bother me as much.
I was thinking about football or chocolate.
As he's got older,
Joe's receding hairline has become an increasingly large
part of his life.
I'm always thinking about ways to conceal it when it's a windy day,
readdressing my hair to cover the areas I've got,
and not make it more noticeable.
Different things affect different people in different ways, and for me
it's very much my hairline.
This is my issue,
and this is something that has bothered me for 12/13 years,
so it's something I'm dealing with.
Joe has already tried a number of off-the shelf solutions,
but with little success.
I'm a master of disguise.
If I pull my hair back real quick you can see I've probably lost about
three inches of hair in those two corners, at last, I think...
Between when I was 13 and 20, anyway.
So, I've been like that for the last ten years.
He's now decided to take the extreme step
of opting for hair transplant surgery,
a technique that will move hair from the back of his head
to the balding areas.
I'm a bit nervous,
but I'm kind of hoping that, once I've had the surgery done,
once I've had my own hair, the same colour, the same texture,
going into them corners that...
I'll not think about it as much, it will be a bit more....
I'll feel better.
I'll feel more confident and, I think, healthier as well.
I'll look a bit healthier, you know...
So, fingers crossed.
While Joe's prepared to undergo surgery
to feel happier about his hair,
most of us opt for less dramatic ways to improve our locks...
..by splashing out on our favourite products.
I've just bought four bottles of shampoo and conditioner -
it was the best part of £100.
Yeah, I would say about £50 a month.
Well, between £20-£30 per product,
so quite high-end ones that you can generally only buy in salons.
I think it's kind of irrelevant for me, cos I probably spend about
£30 a year on my hair.
You're probably looking £100-£150 a month.
That's one of the greatest benefits of not having hair,
I spend little to nothing.
As a chemist, I spend my time formulating and analysing products
that we use every day, and one of the questions I'm often asked
is whether or not an expensive shampoo cleans your hair any better
than a cheap shampoo.
-You haven't washed it for seven days?
-No, I haven't, no.
'In order to find out, I've persuaded my students,
'Catherine and Tanya, to stop washing their hair for a week.'
It feels quite oily, I must admit.
-Does it feel oily to you as well?
-Yeah, it feels horrible.
The reason there's so much oil is because the hair produces
a natural oil called sebum
that extends through the whole hair shaft.
And, unfortunately, with all the pollutants around and all the dirt
that you might come across,
all of those things are going to stick to your hair.
The job of any shampoo is to get rid of all this dirt,
along with other debris, such as dead skin cells.
The price tag for a standard 250ml bottle of shampoo
can vary dramatically.
So, I've chosen to compare three at very different price points.
The first of our shampoos is our cheapest shampoo -
it costs about £1 a bottle.
Our second shampoo, our mid-range product,
which costs about £6 a bottle,
and our final shampoo costs over £40 a bottle.
Despite the differences in price, they all contain similar
cleaning ingredients which are known as surfactants.
Now, here we have some surfactant.
This is sodium lauryl sulphate - it's the most common surfactant
used in shampoo, and what it does is one end of the molecule
is hydrophilic - it remains in the water.
The other is hydrophobic, and attaches to the dirt.
So, when you wash away your shampoo the surfactant carries the dirt away
with the water so your hair is left clean.
I want to find out whether the surfactants in our three
differently priced shampoos can clean Tanya and Catherine's hair
to the same standard.
So, we've analysed your hair samples and we have the results here.
So Catherine, you're first.
These images were taken using a scanning electron microscope,
which has magnified your hair 1,000-2,000 that that you would
normally have. This is your unwashed hair.
We can clearly see there's some dirt on the surface.
Now, this next image we have here is, this is with the cheap shampoo.
The hair look much cleaner.
It has worked. It has removed the dirt from your hair.
And then the mid-range product does look clean as well.
And then finally through to the expensive shampoo.
Again, it's done a good job of cleaning.
So, all three of these shampoos have cleaned your hair really well.
Tanya's unwashed hair was also used to test
the three differently priced shampoos.
But her results are not so straightforward.
Now, with the cheap shampoo, although it did clean the hair,
what we also found from the digital microscope image,
the surface of your hair became quite static,
and you can see here, as soon as you create that static,
then dust is going to stick to your hair.
So, yes, initially your hair looked clean,
but soon after that you would start to pick up dust and dirt
-from the atmosphere.
-Can I wash my hair now?
Yes, you can go and wash your hair now.
The cheap shampoo made Tanya's hair more prone to generating
static electricity because it was missing a key ingredient
that the other two shampoos contained - a conditioning agent.
Conditioning lies at the heart of some of our sleekest of locks.
And for some of us,
they are the most important part of our hair care routine.
My hair is very dry, which is typical for Afro hair.
So, I choose not to use shampoos at all, I just use conditioners.
And not only do conditioners make my hair fresh,
they also help to detangle.
I'm curious to know how my conditioner can achieve all of that.
I've come to Manchester, home to Lonza -
one of the world's leading producers of ingredients
for hair care products.
Lonza is a global manufacturer of speciality chemicals...
Dr Jamie Hawkes is keen to demonstrate how conditioners
transform our hair, using a combing friction tester.
Right, well, this piece of equipment is something that we can use
to demonstrate how a conditioner works.
Basically, we're going to take a hair tress,
and both have had shampoo treatments,
but one has had the additional conditioner treatment, as well.
So, firstly, we need to just wet this,
realign the fibres.
This tress has no conditioner.
We put this into the machine.
And then the machine measures the force required to pull through
-the hair fibres.
-So, we'll be able to see, does the conditioner
-have an effect on combing.
So, we simply start the machine and as it starts to move,
-you'll notice the comb being pulled through - there it goes.
-If that was your hair that would probably hurt.
That would be quite painful, wouldn't it?
Presumably that's going to cause some breakage to the hair as well?
It will, it will cause a lot of damage.
If you were to do this multiple times, you would end up
actually collecting a large pile of fibres on the bottom.
So, that's now finished.
'The next hair tress HAS been treated with conditioner.'
I think, even though it's going at the same speed,
-here from a distance, you can just see it's moving through much more easily.
And you can see how the hair fibres are actually just being teased apart
-as the comb pulls through.
So, there you go.
'And the difference in force required to comb the two tresses
'looks even more dramatic on the graph.'
This is the first tress that we tried.
As you'll see, the amount of force required as the comb
is pulled through the hair tress goes up enormously,
whereas if you look at the second line,
which you can only just see at if bottom,
that's the conditioned sample.
So, hardly any force at all.
the key ingredients in conditioners are designed to stay on the hair,
to improve its look and feel.
And one is known as a quat.
A quat is a quaternion surfactant,
which means that it is a positively charged surfactant,
and we call it quat.
Hair, when it's clean, is negatively charged,
which means that this positively charged quat sits on the hair
with a nice chain, and it's the chain that actually
gives the conditioning effect on the hair fibre.
So, when you have tangled hair and you apply conditioner to that,
you're actually applying a nice chain around, so the hair fibres move.
Then when you rinse your hair through,
the fibres move apart nicely and realign to make your hair detangled.
So, when you're choosing your bottle of conditioner and looking
at the ingredients list, what are we looking for?
What are they going to be called?
Well, firstly, you'll be wanting to find something that says quaternium
or Polyquaternium, or realistically, anything ending in "ium".
Ium. That's always a good way to look at it.
Pretty much every conditioner will have a quat in there,
it's just the presence of it at the top of the ingredients list
indicates that it's there in a higher quantity.
And it's not just conditioners that list their ingredients in this way.
All cosmetic products are required by EU law to show ingredients
in order of quantity contained in the bottle.
Checking the ingredients list might be sound advice,
but what do most of us actually do?
I would smell them before I purchase them.
You know, if it was a big enough bottle and I'm in a rush, I'll buy whatever.
Something that will match my bathroom.
If you look on the back of a bottle of conditioner or a treatment,
what are all those words that are, you know...?
I think even if I did look at the back of my bottle, I don't think I'd
understand what was in there, anyway.
'Say! Look at this Vitalis cartoon.
'Keeps your hair neat the greaseless way!'
For decades, hair care companies have used marketing shorthand
to explain to the consumer what their products can do.
'See the difference yourself!
'If your hair squeaks, you may be sure it's clean.'
SQUEAKING SOUND And science sells.
'The first proved medical treatment and pleasant shampoo all in one.'
And as you can see, I think that's really brought this haircut to life.
It's really has given it a nice, natural...
45 minutes to display their best work.
Today, at one of the UK's biggest hair shows,
the marketing tools are very much in evidence.
And it's actually scientifically proven to produce hair growth.
Because the molecules are so fine, they actually penetrate the hair shaft.
I think there's a lot of science behind any product.
I've just turned 60, so believe me,
I really want all of these products to work.
But I've got quite a sceptical approach and the scientist in me
wonders if all these claims might just be a bit misleading.
Shampoo, 80% of it is water.
'To find out, I'm meeting Nikki Stopford from Which?,
'the largest consumer watchdog company in the UK.
'Nikki, along with a panel of experts,
'has investigated the marketing tricks used to promote a variety of different shampoos.'
We wanted to look at the types of shampoos that every consumer
will see when they're out shopping.
So, we went for popular shampoos that are on the market
and that were making the type of claims that you would see as a shopper.
'One popular claim was the boost that products were "Free from" particular ingredients.'
We saw claims on products that were saying they were free from parabens,
whose role is to act as preservative within a product.
But when we looked at the ingredients, they were being
replaced by other preservatives that are known allergens.
So, you do have a role to play in terms of being inquisitive about
-the products that you buy.
-So, when you pick up bottles of shampoo
you can see sometimes there's quite a lot of small print or there are little asterisks behind ingredients.
-Did you look at that?
-We did look at that and we saw some claims that would then...
You'd track down from the asterisk to the small print that would then say,
"Actually, this claim is only relevant if you're using more than
"one product within the range."
At its worst, it required using two products that amounted to £36.
OK. So, if you are making scientific claims,
how much is the industry regulated in terms of making these claims?
The industry is regulated by, essentially, the cosmetic regulations.
So, shampoos are a cosmetic, they are classed as a cosmetic.
And it's the responsibility of a manufacturer
to ensure they adhere to the regulations and the legal requirements.
And what they must do as part of that, is they must make sure
that any product that goes out to market is safe and that it also has
scientific backing to support any claims that are made on the product.
While the manufacturers must adhere to cosmetic regulations,
they are under no obligation to make their scientific data public.
It's understandable they have commercial interest to protect,
but I'd like to find out more about the science behind their claims
and one way to do this is to go direct to the laboratory.
Leading hair care manufacturer L'Oreal
has opened their Paris headquarters to Horizon.
As an academic scientist, I'm used to having my research
openly scrutinised by my peers,
and I'm curious to see how the hair care industry operates.
L'Oreal are really keen on promoting their science credentials,
and they've put a lot of money into it.
On their website, they say that, "Because we obsess about your hair,
"we obsess about our science."
'Which suggests they should be held to a high scientific standard.'
So, today is going to be a fascinating day,
because I've be granted access to their research and innovation lab.
'UK scientific director Steve Shiel wants to demonstrate
'their scientific credentials.'
L'Oreal was founded by a chemist.
We invest heavily in science, it's very important to our DNA.
That's why we have almost 4,000 scientists across the world
working to develop these new products.
Steve is keen to show me some of the tests the company uses
to substantiate their claims.
This is our automatic shampooing machine,
and we use this machine to wash hair automatically.
At first glance, the facility is impressive.
There are over 50 custom-designed machines.
They measure minute changes to hair samples before and after
different products have been applied.
This machine is used to measure the properties of the hair.
So, the sensor will just bend the hair like that,
and it will measure the force we need to bend the hair.
This technical analysis forms part of a wider process,
which also includes consumer testing.
The current jewel in their research crown is a molecule the company
developed in order to combat the problem of hair lacking in volume.
It's designed to penetrate the hair shaft and thicken from within.
-So, the molecule is in this bit?
It took research engineer Valerie Jeanne-Rose and her team ten years
to create a formation that built a structure inside the hair.
So, the small molecules connect together after activation
by the water to form a 3D network inside the fibre.
Effectively, you're building almost like a scaffolding within the hair
to give it that added rigidity and the volume we're looking for.
-So, it's changing?
and you can see little pieces of glass.
It's quite magic.
'This process for transforming liquid into solid was inspired by
'the car industry, which uses a similar technology
'to repair cracked windscreens.'
So, what's the hair like once you've done this to it?
After application of a very concentrated solution...
That's very rigid.
You can see the difference in terms of rigidity.
This is an extreme version. What we do in the product is dial it down.
-It definitely re-enforced it.
'I'm curious to know whether re-enforcing
'the hair shaft in this way can cause damage.'
What you don't want to do is try and force lots of material into
the hair, because then the hair won't be able to
-withstand that and it will cause damage to the hair.
So, it's all about understanding how much you can put in
that's going to have that significant difference,
that will give you that change in the way your hair feels and behaves.
But without being damaging to the hair.
But is this genuine science, or really just a marketing tool?
How much of this information is available to the public?
How much is in the public domain?
We do a lot of publications in terms of novel findings about hair,
and we're very active in participating at academic conferences,
which really helps us get this science to a wide number of people.
So, I looked at one of the journal papers
that was published in February, I think, about the filloxane molecule,
and one of the things that struck me is that when I'm teaching my students how to write papers,
it's always that you should publish a critical analysis, you know,
that you should discuss the advantages and the disadvantages,
and one thing that struck me very strongly about that paper
was that it only discussed the advantages.
I mean, that particular paper was used to talk about this particular
ingredient and what it CAN deliver.
In terms of being a new way of delivering this rigidity
and 3D structure to the hair.
But if they're not in the journal papers,
and they're obviously not on the side of the bottles,
where does a consumer find out about
any potential disadvantages of a product?
I mean, I think one of the important things with both hair care
and skin care is finding the right product for you.
Some people like one product and not another.
And so one of the areas where we're seeing that's very helpful
to consumers is the sort of reviews that you see online,
which gives you a good idea of people like you
and how they've reacted to the same product.
Today's visit was a fascinating insight
into the scale of the operation here.
I'm encouraged by the fact that the company has chosen to publish
some of their work in peer-reviewed journals,
where their data has been scrutinised
by other experts in the field.
But for me, there's still room for improvement.
Particularly when it comes to a robust discussion of any potential
downsides of their products.
I'm on my way to the Farjo Hair Institute in Manchester.
It's the morning of Joe's surgery.
-Dr Farjo, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
'Surgeon Dr Bessam Farjo will be performing Joe's six-hour operation,
'a procedure that's not available on the NHS.'
So, what we're doing today, we are
lowering Joe's hairline
and changing the shape of it a little.
So, Joe has a naturally high forehead that's receded a little bit.
He's got no history of hair loss at the back.
'The clinic performs around six hair transplants a week.
'Each costing on average £7,000.'
-So, the first thing I want you to do is to be facing me.
'For Joe, the first stage is to plan
'where his hair follicles will be transplanted.'
So, the line I'm drawing is basically the frontal border
of how low we're going to get with Joe's hairline.
'Joe suffers from male-pattern hair loss.
'With this condition,
'hair is progressively lost from the temples and the top of the head.
'With female-pattern hair loss, it's more diffuse,
'all over the head.'
-So, we're going to turn you around...
..so you can see what I've drawn in the mirror. All right?
So, turn around for me.
-Sit back and have a look.
-That's such a massive difference.
I'm really excited.
-I can tell you're excited.
And genuinely, that will change a lot for me.
Yeah. And you'll be able to style your hair however you want.
That's it. Comb-over, flat down, no product day.
After all this you're going to have a comb-over?
-That's it. Pull it forward and get rid of my hairline!
-He can do what he likes!
-Let me know if you feel any discomfort.
'With his new hairline drawn,
'Joe's given a local anaesthetic to numb the back of his head
'from where the hair follicles will be extracted.'
Chin to your chest, please.
There you go. Yeah. All right?
'Dr Farjo is using a pioneering robotic system
'to harvest the hair follicles.'
So, the green dot is where it's going to hit next,
the pink one is the one after that,
and the blue is where it's been before,
-and it'll never go in there again.
'The robot will extract 2,500 individual hair follicles
'from the back of Joe's head.'
These are the hairs that we know are most likely to stay
throughout Joe's lifetime.
'Hairs at the back of the head will stay because they won't interact
'with the male hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT,
'which is linked to hair loss.
'The hair on the top of the head is more likely to fall out
'because it does interact with this hormone.'
That one's down to genetics,
so different family trees will determine how many
of these hairs on your head react to the hormone.
The general idea is this horseshoe at the back doesn't get affected.
So, do you know if you look at your own parents,
particularly, perhaps, your father,
would you be able to judge from your paternal line whether you were
-likely to go bald?
-Not just the father,
but the males on the mother's side as well.
There's nothing we can do about the genes we inherit
that may or may not lead to hair loss.
But we do have control over the every day decisions
we make when it comes to styling our hair.
Decisions that CAN have a dramatic impact
on whether or not we cause damage.
I do use heat on my hair
when I need to style it.
I do use heat on my hair often.
No. I never use heat.
I never, ever use any heat on my hair.
I think it's really bad.
If I use too much straightener, it's going to damage my hair.
Tongs now have... You can set different heat settings
and I'll just put it to the top one.
I don't know if I should do that.
Today, the thermal styling industry, including products such as
hair straighteners and curling tongs, has an
estimated global market worth £11 billion.
I've been given access to the UK's leading hair styling company,
GHD's research labs.
Here, heat is big business.
According to Dr Tim Moore,
sculpting hair with heat requires an understanding
of its basic chemistry.
Well, here we have lots and lots of different types
of human hair from all around the globe.
So, for example, over here, we have a dyed,
bleached Spanish black hair.
We have what we call white hair.
Very, very fine. Very, very blond hair.
-We have Afro hair here.
-That looks familiar to me.
Indeed! Now, they all look and feel very, very different.
Yet fundamental building blocks of all of these hair
are exactly the same.
These building blocks are strands of the protein keratin,
which are held together by chemical bonds.
Within the hair, there are two types of bonds that we're very,
very interested in. There are the disulphide bonds
and there are the hydrogen bonds.
The disulphide bonds are like the fundamental structure of the hair.
So, they're like the cement in a brick wall.
If you imagine, if you take the cement out of a brick wall
then that brick wall's going to become very weak.
The other bonds are the hydrogen bond and the hydrogen bonds
are the ones that we're interested in because they're the ones
that allow you to repeatedly style your hair.
They're reversible bonds, so you can break them and remake them
as you see fit.
You can do that thermally, using heat, for example.
Tim wants to show me what happens when hair is styled
using a range of temperatures.
So what we've done is we've taken some Afro hair tresses
and then we've treated them.
One tress we treated at 185 degrees to straighten it
and the other one we treated at 220 degrees to straighten it.
And to each tress, we subjected them to 50 passes,
which is the equivalent to 25 days worth of styling.
-And what I am going to show you is what happens when we put those
fibres into water.
If you'd like to start the timer...
So, first of all, we're going to put the one in that's been treated
at 185 degrees centigrade.
-Then I'm going to put the 220 degrees centigrade.
So, already in, we're only what? Ten seconds or so in.
And you can already see, right now, at this time, you can see the 185.
Look, that's starting to curl.
It's curling back up quite healthily.
It's all gone nice and coily as well, whereas look at what's happened at 220.
-Nothing so far.
-It's like a dead worm.
To get a really good style using heat,
what you really want to do is break the hydrogen bonds,
so these are these reversible bonds.
But you do not want to break the disulphide bonds
because you don't want to weaken your hair.
You can see the hair that's been treated at 185 degrees
has now reverted back to a very, very coiled form.
And that's because only the hydrogen bonds
have been affected, the disulphide bonds are still intact?
Absolutely. The fundamental structure hasn't changed.
Whereas if you look at 220, you can see there now,
that's curled a very small amount. It's tried its best.
This is really quite worrying, isn't it? Because that's now a permanent change.
That's correct. That that hair is now permanently altered and if you
wanted it to go back to how it was before, no way.
You'll have to wait for your hair to grow out.
It's not just the shape of hair that can change
when excessive heat is applied.
So what we've got here is a nice,
lovely blonde tress here of human hair.
Then we have two stylers.
'One styler is set at 185 degrees centigrade
'and the other is set at 230 degrees centigrade.'
In a moment, we're going to apply our respective stylers to the hair
and we're going to leave it on the hair for 15 seconds.
Three, two, one, go.
'15 seconds is the equivalent to using a hair straightener across
'a whole head of hair for 30 minutes every day for a week.'
Oh, my gosh, look at that!
-There's smoke coming off it.
-It absolutely stinks.
-What is that smell?
-That really rotten, eggy-type smell,
that's actually hydrogen sulfide,
and that's created by the breaking down of the disulphide bonds.
So it really is the product of you destroying your hair.
You can see what's happened here.
-That has completely and utterly changed colour.
-Look how brown that's gone.
-Look at that.
-It's completely changed colour.
-Look where the 185 was.
-That's no change at all.
'Crucially, these results only hold for dry hair.
'Using heat on wet hair dramatically lowers the temperature
'at which you can safely style.'
So if you're using a styler directly onto wet hair then you're going to
be really breaking the disulphide bonds,
-so almost like little explosions within the hair.
'While there are strict safety regulations on products,
'there are no legal requirements to limit
'the maximum temperature of a styler plate.'
The thing is, when you style for the first time,
for example at 230 degrees,
you first of all run your hair through and think, "Wow,
"what a great style," that's partly because you've melted it there.
Than as you keep on repeating that process at 230, over and over again,
what gradually happens, of course,
is that the hair will get weaker and weaker,
and that's when you start to see the impact.
So at 185 degrees, is there absolutely no damage to the hair?
It pretty well much means there is.
There's always going to be.
If you're do anything to your hair, even if you are towel-drying,
believe it or not, will cause damage to your hair.
That's why you shouldn't shake your hair like this,
you should squidge it more.
You cannot say so you cannot say zero, never, nothing, nyet.
There's always a little bit but it's very small to the point
that you would never, ever really notice it.
GHD invest heavily in scientific research that helps
increase their understanding of the limits of this extraordinary material.
This is reassuring for any of us using heat on our hair.
But what IS disappointing is that although this leading hair care
company has presented research at conferences,
to date none of it is published in peer review journals.
What I would most desire is healthy-looking hair.
Smooth and silky.
Well, I'd like my hair to look healthy and shiny.
But, yeah, shiny hair is the killer.
That's the nice one. You want it to look like glass,
reflecting like glass.
Shiny hair is one of the most desired qualities
in the world of hair care.
But in order for any product to make claims to create this elusive
quality, there needs to be some means of measuring it.
'Professor Franz Wortmann has spent the last 15 years developing ways
'to measure shiny hair for the hair care industry.'
Well, it is for good reason that the most important claim
for the industry is shiny hair.
So most products will relate in some way or another to shine,
because shiny, healthy-looking hair is a very important component
of our perception of beauty.
Franz starts by looking at single strands of hair.
Every fibre is different and he's able to build up an incredibly
accurate picture of the whole head.
Today, some of mine are under scrutiny
by being compared with commercial hair samples.
This frame has been prepared to contain three brown
and blonde and four of your hairs.
The frame goes in there.
There is a green light laser in here.
So then the laser shines onto the hair
and the reflection is then measured.
'As the only machine of its kind in the world,
'it's in demand by the hair care industry.'
-So, all we need to do now is start the computer.
'It generates scientific data that that helps determine
'which products produce the best shine.'
Shine is measured by calculating the ratio between the light reflecting
off the hair surface and the light penetrating the hair
and reflecting back out.
And colour plays a key role.
The darker the hair, the less light is reflected from within,
which gives a greater shine ratio compared to lighter hair.
Time to find out how my hair measures up.
Your hair reflects about 30-33% of the light and that's actually much
better than the commercial brown hair or commercial bleach hair.
You're a bit lower than the Asian hair,
but that is to be expected because your hair is a lighter colour than the Asian hair.
So you're basically
at the upper threshold, so pretty much at the optimum reflecting.
Yes. You've got shiny hair.
'My results are better than the bleached hair
'because dyeing hair damages the surface.'
So, if the surface is rough,
that means that it's kind of broken up and then the light bounces off in all different directions?
The light just bounces off in all directions.
So it's basically the structure of the surface.
So how rough is the surface, how well organised is the surface?
The machine is so precise
it can distinguish differences in shine that the human eye can't see.
If we really give it a go, we can measure differences of 1%.
So we are much, much better than the consumer will
ever be able to pick up,
but that helps your development towards something that works.
That's basically what we do,
provide a very, very sensitive tool to make sure that you don't
miss a winner in your game.
The science is fascinating, but everything we've just seen
is all about a single strand of hair at a time,
when most of us walk around with a full head of hair.
So the next thing is a challenge.
Just how shiny can I make my own hair look?
MUSIC: The Good Life by Tony Bennett
Easy. I can cheat.
'Of course, there's a lot more going on in these images than naturally
'shiny hair, and the physicist in me can't help but want to work out
'exactly what that is.'
These adverts work by generating an emotional response,
but this is all physics.
Now, these models have beautiful long hair so you can see the shine
really easily, but this is a logical problem and it's going to be really
interesting to see if we can recreate
some of these effects on my hair.
We don't have a top-end commercial's budget,
but knowing how light behaves on different surfaces
should get us pretty close.
The first stage is to get my hair as straight as possible.
'I'm in the capable hands of hair and make-up artist Shari Rendle.'
We want the hair to be blown down the shaft to flatten it,
cos then that creates that lovely shine because the light
has a flatter surface area to be reflected from.
-So you want it to be like a flat mirror?
'However straight my hair, it still needs a bit of extra help.'
I think we need more length, so we've got some extensions to put in.
-That's long, isn't it? Wow.
-All part of the illusion.
'With my hair smooth and extensions added,
'I've increased the surface area for the shine.
'Next, it's time to add some light.
'Director of photography, Patrick, is overseeing the set-up.'
Above, we've got these fluorescent tubes that fire through a trace frame.
The trace frame is diffusing it,
but it's also making it into a bigger source,
so this will bring up the area of shine on the top of your head.
And then there's two ones at the side?
The ones at the side, as your hair moves around,
they're going to move through the optimum bit of light
at different times.
The top light won't be able to do everything.
And then there's one more, which is this ring thing over there.
Yes, so this ring light, a lot of celebrities like this kind of lighting.
The lens will go through the middle. It's very flat lighting.
It hides all the wrinkles, all the imperfections in the skin.
It gets into the eye sockets, so you don't have bags under your eyes.
And also because the lens is firing through the middle,
you'll get the reflection of that
ring light in your eyes, so you'll get little circles of light.
It pings up and makes you look really vital.
In order to make sure my hair is falling in exactly the right place,
we've persuaded one of the team to don a green suit.
Because he's the same colour as the set,
he can be removed in postproduction when a new background is keyed in.
So let's see how the finished results compare with
my unstyled hair from this morning.
I think the tricks we've used have created a shine
that certainly looks impressive.
But eventually, Mother Nature catches up with us all.
'As we age and we lose natural colour from our hair,
'it starts to become less reflective and therefore less shiny.'
I've been quite lucky with grey hair.
I haven't really found one yet.
I've actually got a grey hair. I've got one, which I quite like,
although it means I'm not really a Peter Pan any more.
It means I'm going to get old.
No, I think, you know, grow old gracefully, or disgracefully, rather.
Going grey is something that I am fighting.
Men look good when they're grey when they've got a full head of hair,
so I'm looking forward to it.
I've found two grey hairs recently in only the last couple of weeks,
and they were plucked out immediately.
Most of us will start to find the odd grey hair on our heads around
the age of 30, and by the age of 50,
it's not unusual for about 50% of the hairs to be grey.
Whilst many people are happy to embrace the silver look,
just as many will go to great lengths to try to conceal it.
My hairdresser, Sandra, is one of tens of thousands across the country
with the skills to cover up the grey.
People want to hold on to their youthful look, really.
They start coming in and they might just have one strand and they think
their world is ending, and they decide
that they want to dye their hair.
And this horror of grey makes for big business.
The UK hair colourant industry alone is worth £415 million a year.
Men are just as vain as us women.
A lot of them do opt for highlights and putting different coloured
variations in their hair, so it looks more natural.
In order to cover up the grey,
Sandra needs to make sure the hair dye penetrates the outer layer of
the hair shaft and deposits the new colour into its core.
This is where the hair's natural pigmentation, the melanin, is found.
When we go grey, we gradually lose the ability to make this pigment,
and hair becomes translucent.
Yes, I'm just covering these slight little grey hairs
just around the hairline.
Although all of us will go grey eventually,
the properties of Afro and Far East Asian hair may delay substantial
greying by up to ten years compared to Caucasian hair.
Masking grey with colour is currently the most effective way
of getting rid of the grey.
But according to hair and skin scientist Professor Des Tobin,
we could be on the brink of a revolution.
It's all thanks to an improved understanding
of the traits we inherit.
If you look at your family,
you can see a sense of what's down the tracks for you if you
haven't yet greyed, but there's also evidence from twin studies
that some of the twins that smoke, for example,
and are involved in other lifestyle choices may grey earlier than their
So there's a mixture of genetics and what we call
epigenetics, or the influences from the environment,
that affect your genes.
Earlier this year, Des and a team of international scientists announced
the discovery of a grey gene.
This was a very big collaborative study, headed by UCL in London.
And these researchers checked the genetic background of 6,500 people.
They photographed them.
They looked at different features of their hair and from that kind of
chase, they were able to get several very interesting genes,
the first one, associated with hair greying.
This grey gene goes by the catchy name of IRF4,
and it helps regulate the production of the pigment melanin.
Now we may be able to look underneath the skin to see if we can
influence how the hair actually is made before it grows out.
So, now that we have a very specific target to chase,
it should be relatively straightforward to repair
that deficit from the outside in, rather than having to
tweak any genes or anything much more fundamental.
Are we looking at the next big revolution here in hair care?
It's definitely new.
People thought that greying would be lost in a whole mixture of ageing
consequences and that we would never be able to find the needle in the haystack.
This appears to be one important needle within that haystack,
so there's going to be an interesting balance between just how
interested companies are to stop hair greying,
if their main business is to cover up grey hair.
I hope that I'm one of those people that embrace it.
Will I embrace grey?
No way. And I won't let any of my clients either.
I think it's great. I think old age is brilliant.
So, just embrace it.
I think I'm more likely to lose my hair before it goes grey anyway.
Yeah, I'd love to have grey.
But losing it is probably going to be an issue.
Joe's hair transplant operation is in full swing.
While his final hair follicles are being extracted,
I took the opportunity to meet up with Scott,
who received his hair transplant two years ago.
As you can see, just round here, the hairline's really receded back here.
Basically, I had a more or less a very thin strip there.
So all of this has been built up by hair transplants
and then thickened as well.
So how do you feel your life has changed?
I don't even think about hair now, which is weird,
because when you've got it, you don't.
Now, I just feel like I'm back to the person I was
before I had the hair loss.
It's made me feel younger as well.
It's given me that confidence, gave me that self-esteem.
So I've been really positive and happy with the procedure done.
After four hours, Joe is now ready
for the final stage of the transplant.
His follicles have been harvested and carefully sorted into groups
according to the number of strands in each graft.
The graft that has one hair gets put in number one compartment, then two,
and the number three compartment has anything three or above.
The reason for that is because I want to preserve the single hairs
for the hairline, for the front.
They're useful for a natural look, but they're not useful for density.
And then behind that, you put the two hairs per graft and then
the three and more, you leave them until you get to the very back,
where they can contribute to density, but not directly visible.
It's a delicate process that takes Dr Farjo and two of his technicians
nearly two hours to complete.
As his new hairline takes shape, Joe gets a first glimpse.
-You hold the mirror, lift it up.
-Keep your head where it is.
-There's a lot there, isn't there?
There's a lot there already.
So you see the bits with the white tops,
-that's where the grafts have gone in.
The new follicles will take around six to eight months to grow
hair long enough to make a cosmetic difference.
It's really cool. I'm really excited.
You've all changed my life.
It's something that I won't ever forget, this day,
so thank you for what you've done. Honestly, it's...
I'm getting upset here!
You've made a real difference, thank you.
'Whether we like it or not,
'our hair plays a fundamental role in who we are.'
I like the fact that I can change it.
I can make it look like yours or yours,
but then I can make it look like mine.
It's the one part of you that you get to design.
The obsession so many of us have with our hair
sustains a multi-billion pound industry,
pushing the scientific boundaries and creating ever more ingenious
solutions to transform our locks.
It's all about understanding how much you can put in
without it being damaging to the hair.
But there is a limit to how much we can change what nature has given us.
And more often than not, prevention is better than cure.
If you take your hair temperature too high when you're styling,
you will cause significant damage.
Our investigations have shown that understanding the science behind
this incredible material can help you make better choices.
And when deciding what this billion-pound industry has to offer
our hair, it pays to keep asking questions.
The Horizon team have gathered together a team of scientists and doctors to investigate the incredible, natural material that is growing out of our heads - our hair. With access to the research laboratories of some of the world's leading hair care companies, including L'Oreal and ghd, the team explore the cutting-edge research and technology designed to push the boundaries of hair and hair care.
Each one of us has a unique head of hair - an average of 150,000 individual hair strands growing approximately one centimetre every month. Over your lifetime, that is over 800 miles. The time and effort we put into styling, sculpting and maintaining this precious material has created a global hair care market worth a staggering £60 billion pounds. With such high stakes, it is inevitable that when developing hair-care products, science and business operate hand in hand. The team reveal how this industry science compares to the rigorous academic standards that they are used to.
These investigations also reveal why we care so much about our hair, and whether or not it is worth splashing out on expensive shampoos. They uncover the magic ingredients found in conditioners and lay bare the secrets of the shiny, glossy hair seen in the adverts.