Mimicking Natural Human Hair Pigmentation with Synthetic Melanin

Claudia Battistella, Naneki C. Mccallum, Karthikeyan Gnanasekaran, Xuhao Zhou, Valeria Caponetti, Marco Montalti, Nathan C. Gianneschi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Human hair is naturally colored by melanin pigments, which afford myriad colors from black, to brown, to red depending on the chemical structures and specific blends. In recent decades, synthetic efforts have centered on dopamine oxidation to polydopamine, an effective eumelanin similar to the one found in humans. To date, only a few attempts at polydopamine deposition on human hair have been reported, and their translation to widespread usage and potential commercialization is still hampered by the harsh conditions employed. We reasoned that novel, mild, biocompatible approaches could be developed to establish a metal-free route to tunable, nature-inspired, long-lasting coloration of human hair. Herein, we describe synthetic and formulation routes to achieving this goal and show efficacy on a variety of human hair samples via multiple spectroscopic and imaging techniques. Owing to the mild and inexpensive conditions employed, this novel approach has the potential to replace classical harsh hair dyeing conditions that have raised concerns for several decades due to their potential toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1188
Number of pages10
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 22 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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