MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: Message for Paul Odgren

Date: Sat Dec 2 15:54:37 2000
Posted By: Paul Odgren, Instructor, Cell Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School (Dept. of Cell Biology)
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 975518933.Bc

Hi Lisa,

I'm afraid you'll have to accept some limitations on rewriting your hair?s inherent properties. When you straighten your hair with a "permanent," you're actually breaking the strong chemical bonds that form while your hair is growing inside your scalp. These bonds between sulfur atoms ("disulfide" bonds) on adjacent protein fibers (keratin fibers) require those smelly, sulfur-containing chemicals in order to be broken and then allowed to re-form in a new "permanent" configuration when you remove the chemicals. The process isn't perfect, and it does have limits. Sometimes the hair shaft isn't quite round, rather a bit of an oval shape. This also can affect the tendency to curl, and it isn't affected at all by a "permanent." The other thing is that of course your hair is always growing, so even a "permanent" is only temporary, i.e., it has to be re-done when your hair grows out. Hope this answers your question.

Paul Odgren, Ph.D.
Dept. of Cell Biology
Univ. of Massachusetts Medical School

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