Stimulating Scents

Gee, your hair smells terrific!

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

When we smell, odor molecules dock into special proteins that alert our brain. Mmmm…bacon! Biologists call these proteins olfactory receptors, or O-Rs, and they do more than just smell! All kinds of cells use O-Rs. And scientists are still learning what they’re used for.

Enter Ralph Paus from the University of Miami. His team investigates the O-Rs on hair follicle cells to understand how smells affect hair growth. They expose these cells to different odors, and watch them grow.

So what smells good to a hair follicle? Wait for it. . . Sandalwood!

Unlike Angelenos relaxing at an aromatherapy spa, sandalwood excites hair follicle O-Rs. Doctor Paus found that hair follicles exposed to sandalwood grew MORE hair!

The team is now experimenting with synthetic sandalwood as a therapy for hair loss.

Until then, some will have to stick with hair in a can. …Does it come in lavender?