October 4, 2016
3-D printing has played a crucial role in numerous industries, from aerospace to medicine and art. What you may not have realised is how it’s slowly being integrated into the beauty and cosmetics industry as well. From fingernails painted in 3-D print to the recent 3-D printed lipstick, courtesy of Smashbox Cosmetics, it definitely proves that there’s always room for more products and brilliant innovation. One of the newest focuses that is breaking new ground in both the worlds of beauty and tech is 3-D printed hair.
L’Oréal has recently announced its research partnership with biotech company Poietis to develop technology that will print 3-D hair follicles in vitro. There are 150,000 follicles on the human scalp, and according to the group of scientists behind the project, they’re one of the most complex organs in the human body. The company has already created a laser-assisted bioprinting technology that is able to produce biological tissue, similar to cartilage, by using small droplets of “bio ink” that’s made of cells.
The process starts with mapping out the areas where they want new cells to grow. Then, a pulsing laser bounces off a mirror and through a lens to trigger a ribbon that allows the bio-ink to be applied at a rate of 10,000 micro-droplets per second. From there, the tissue is given time to mature before it can start growing, which will definitely take a longer time to do so due to its complexity.
It’s pretty neat – not only would this assist in the development of future products, it could also give us much more insight into hair biology, too. The 3-D printed follicles can be implanted to reverse hair loss and aid research regarding hair aging and hair growth. With plenty of people out there willing to try anything to get a full head of hair, this would present a new hope for them. At least it’s better than applying snake oil to your scalp to no avail.
Main Image: DKNY A/W ’16, courtesy DKNY