Since this was uncharted waters, they were not sure what they would find. They were the ones to find out that the hair is made up with fibers resembling tree trunks wrapped in a cuticle which resembles the bark of a tree.
They also found that there is an ultra thin coating of natural lubricant over the cuticle, which explained how hair tends to disintegrate.
Come to think of it, it is perhaps this very same research that has backed the theory that finger detangling is least damaging to our hair.
Can you imagine what happens to that thin film when we chemically process or heat style our hair? Then again, even washing and styling creates enough friction to do damage so that is why we need conditioners to act as lubricants against the wear and tear we subject our hair to.
Bharat Bhushan found that unless a conditioner chemically attaches to the hair, it is ineffective. Apparently, many of the conditioners we are crazy about do nothing for us.
Instead of uniformly coating the hair they just sit in pockets at the bottom of the cuticle, often making the hair sticky. This conclusion was reached after he had done tests using adhesion, weight and friction to assess the state of the inner layers of the hair, before and after the use of conditioner.
Well that explains why our conditioners weigh down our hair. It also explains why products containing polymers and polyelectrolyte complex (PEC) are so good for our delicate tresses. (Polyelectrolyte are use in split repair products to seal our hair back together after damage and make it more resilient to breakage.)
Of course numerous scientific experiments go into cosmetics, especially for super concoctions for the multi-billion dollar hair industry but I wonder how many of the findings of these discoveries trickle down to us laymen.
As it turns out, Bhushan’s book, Biophysics of Human Hair: Structural, Nanomechanical, and Nanotribological Studies chronicles his findings. It is a bit of a heavy read but should be quite a jewel for the science buffs among you.