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Hair Mechanical Properties Depending on Age and Origin

Authors: Meriem Benzarti, Mohamed Ben Tkaya, Cyril Pailler Mattei, Hassan Zahouani


Hair is a non homogenous complex material which can be associated with a polymer. It is made up 95% of Keratin. Hair has a great social significance for human beings. In the High Middle Ages, for example, long hairs have been reserved for kings and nobles. Most common interest in hair is focused on hair growth, hair types and hair care, but hair is also an important biomaterial which can vary depending on ethnic origin or on age, hair colour for example can be a sign of ethnic ancestry or age (dark hair for Asiatic, blond hair for Caucasian and white hair for old people in general). In this context, different approaches have been conducted to determine the differences in mechanical properties and characterize the fracture topography at the surface of hair depending on its type and its age. A tensile testing machine was especially designed to achieve tensile tests on hair. This device is composed of a microdisplacement system and a force sensor whose peak load is limited to 3N. The curves and the values extracted from each experiment, allow us to compare the evolution of the mechanical properties from one hair to another. Observations with a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and with an interferometer were made on different hairs. Thus, it is possible to access the cuticle state and the fracture topography for each category.

Keywords: Mechanical Properties, SEM, hair, relaxation test, interferometer

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