Etching could be the hair dye of the future

It could one day be possible to colour your hair as easily as you straighten it, according to scientists from the University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

They’ve patented a method of etching designs onto hair using focused ion beams, so it looks like it’s changed colour but isn’t actually damaged. There’s even a semi-permanent option where the colour could be etched onto a hair product, like conditioner – and of course there’s no reason the colour has to be a single block rather than an original design.

It will be ideal for people with sensitive skin, dye allergies, or fickle natures and the best news if you’ve spent your life trying to convince pigment to take to your almost-black hair with limited success is that at long last, here is something that actually works better on brunettes. FINALLY.

The downside is that to replicate the effect, you’ll need a million dollars. That’s how much the machine that the New Mexico team created costs. The image above is just a dirty lie (or ‘design concept’, as I guess inventors call it) which shows how the technology could work once it’s been developed for the consumer market.

So far, as they report in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, the scientists have only succeeded in changing the colour of individual hairs in their expensive machine. But their research is ongoing, and there’s no reason not to believe that there won’t be colour-changing hair straighteners for sale by the time we’re old and grey.

Image credit: University of New Mexico.

Diane Shipley