Can hair predict your health? Episode 56

From hairballs to hair jewelry, this is a special (almost) all hair episode of Beauty Science News. Also, you WON’T want to miss our NSFW feminine hygiene version of “Improbable Products.”  

Show notes

Improbable Products

Believe it or not, two of these products are real. That means one is fake – can you guess which one?

  1. Ta Ta Tanner: If you’ve ever wanted an all over tan but you’re afraid to sunbathe topless then you’ll love ta ta tanner – the first self tanning lotion designed especially for your breasts.
  2. The Revaginator:  This ionic lotion contracts the walls of your vagina to restore the feeling of youthful tightness. You’ll feel like a teen again!
  3. Swoob Lube: Soothe sweaty boobs with Swoob. This absorbent lotion dries to a powdery finish to stop under-boob sweat. Your girls will LOVE it.

Listen to the show for the answer!

Beauty Science News

The girl with that 9 pound hairball 

Trichophagia is a disorder where you compulsively eat hair – not just nibble on your split ends but actually chew and swallow it. It’s related to trichotillomania (or TTM) which is an impulse disorder that causes people to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, wherever. They literally can not stop tugging on their hair. If enough hair is pulled out over time, it stops growing back, this is called traction alopecia.

According to the Trichotillomania Learning Center this condition affects between 1 and 2% of all Americans. Other sources estimate that as much as 10% of the world’s population are affected by this condition to some degree. TTM usually strikes in the pre- or early adolescent years. Women are most often diagnosed with TTM but the research is not clear if this means there is a real gender bias, or if men are just less likely to report symptoms or are better at hiding them.

It’s a terrible compulsion and eating hair can be really dangerous – In Kyrgyzstan an 18 year old girl had to undergo emergency surgery to remove a 9 pound hair ball that was blocking her stomach.

Are lathery shampoos on their way out? 

We’ve blogged before about WEN and other “no poo” products. But do you think these conditioning cleansers mean the end of regular shampoos?  Purely Perfect thinks so and they want you to buy their $40 product.

The Hair museum

Did you know you can make jewelry made from hair? It can be as simple as a locket with lock of hair from a loved one or it can be a brooch that’s actually woven from hair strands . Apparently the practice dates to Victorian times and was originally a practice for mourning. I learned about this from Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence Mo. She has over 2000 pieces of hair jewelry on display including a brooch dating back to 1680. (It’s amazing how stable hair is.) The museum proprietor has figured out how to do this through reverse engineering and she teaches classes on how to do it yourself. Apparently they identified 36 different techniques used in hair jewelry but so far they’ve only been able to replicate 32 of them.

If you’re good looking tell your future boss

A recent study shows that acknowledging your good looks in an interview can help you get the job.

Your hair can predict a heart attack 

What do you think is the best indicator of heart health – your cholesterol level? Or maybe your body weight? Wrong – it’s your hair. A study at the University of Western Ontario shows that you can measure the body’s chronic stress levels by analyzing hair. Here’s how it works: when your body is stressed it releases a certain hormone called cortisol- the higher your levels of cortisol, the higher your risk for heart attack. Cortisol can be detected in blood and urine but only at the time of the stressing event. So blood and urine tests aren’t a very good indicator of cortisol levels over time.

But cortisol also is contained in the blood vessels that feed your hair follicles and some of the hormone ends up on your hair. So if your hair is about 6 inches long that means it’s about a year old so you can snip a little bit of it off, measure the cortisol levels at every inch or so and have a snapshot of your body’s stress level over time. This is important because it’s the chronic stress that kills you. So, in this study which is published in the journal Stress, they found that measuring hair is more accurate at predicting heart attacks than traditional methods like cholesterol or body weight.

Fruit will not give you whiter teeth

Have you heard that you can use strawberry seeds to whiten your teeth? A dental researcher at the University of Iowa studied the technique and found that it doesn’t really work!

Light makes you heavy

Researchers asked 113,000 women how much light enters their bedrooms at night. They then correlated the amount of light to their body mass index and found that the more night light they were exposed to the more over weight they were likely to be. This was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Could just be another one of those spurious correlations, like we talked about a few shows ago (you know, does the number of pirate attacks predict the stock market) OR does light (or lack of darkness) somehow trigger metabolic changes that affect weight?

Do science-y pictures make you believe a product works better?

Advertisements which feature graphs and charts are more likely to make you believe the product really works. Is this why so many cosmetics include  pictures of molecules?

LIL buy it now button

Buy your copy of  It’s OK to Have Lead in Your Lipstick to learn more about:

      • Clever lies that the beauty companies tell you.
      • The straight scoop of which beauty myths are true and which are just urban legends.
      • Which ingredients are really scary and which ones are just scaremongering by the media to incite an irrational fear of chemicals.
      • How to tell the difference between the products that are really green and the ones that are just trying to get more of your hard earned money by labeling them “natural” or “organic.

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