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Weird Ladder Hair

Ever wondered how you could demonstrate the structural components of hair in a very visual and engaging way? It seems that a young American woman, Taylor Krasne, has found a way of doing it, and creating what she calls hair ladders.

Here is her video on TikTok @CarlyMusleh

Thanks to Carly Musleh, a student at the University of Sunderland, UK, for spotting this one for us.

Whilst being amazed at Taylor’s unique party trick, the hair scientists reading this will probably see what is going on. Taylor has found a nice way of removing hair cuticle, by rubbing the surface of the hair from the tip-end to the root-end with her long fingernails. We can also do this in the laboratory with a scalpel blade or knife.

On removing of some of the cuticle, and gently stretching the hair with the rubbing action, Taylor’s hair starts to split. This, of course, is what happens at the hair ends when split-ends form. The last bit is, however, the cleaver bit. Taylor is able to gently split the hair fibre whilst retaining some cortical cells that bridge the split. This gives the ladder appearance, or, as she also suggests, a DNA appearance.

The interesting thing has to be, why are the bridges across the fracture spaced the way they are? It isn’t a perfect ladder, but it is pretty close. Please write to us if you have any ideas!

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