Now Hair This

Are you a Lion King…or more of a Bald Eagle?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We do our best to keep our hair looking luscious and thick.  But is a thick mane REALLY better or stronger?

Wen Yang from UC San Diego and her team collected hair from different mammals. Think horses, giraffes, elephants…and humans! They tied these strands to a machine that slowly pulled them apart until they broke!

How did OUR hair hold up? Surprise! Despite being FOUR times thinner than an elephant’s, human hair was TWICE as strong! Why is that?

Scientists believe it’s all in the WAY the hair breaks. Thick hairs from giraffes and elephants tend to break cleanly in the middle.

By contrast, our thin locks have layers that overlap and intertwine. Each layer creates unique fractures as the hair is pulled, causing uneven breakage. These fractures slowly grow as zig-zags, but strands don’t break completely until cracks meet.

What’s more? Thin wispy hairs from BABIES are even stronger than those of adults!

Now THAT’S what I call a not so clean break!