Researchers have discovered a new component of human hair which was not known before. Using x-ray technology it has been found that an intermediate zone is located between the cortex and cuticle. The findings were presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of American Crystallographic Association.
“We discovered that within the cuticle a key diffraction feature of the alpha keratin is absent – indicating the presence of beta keratin instead of the alpha keratin phase. Until now, it was believed that keratin in hair had only an alpha conformation,” said Dr Vesna Stanic, a scientist at the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Source.
Beta keratin is found in feathers and beaks of birds as well as the claws and scales of reptiles. It is thought this structure is what makes them so tough. It is possible that Beta Keratin may increase the strength and length of hair. If this possibility is valid then it will provide scientists with opportunities to develop new cosmetics.