FIRE: World’s First Hair Dye that changes colour

FIRE: World’s First Hair Dye that changes colour

Photography Sya Groosman, Hair Kieran Tudor

Bored with galaxy or pumpkin spice hair colour? Fancy something a little more interesting? How about a hair dye that changes colour with the temperature? Sounds outrageous but this is exactly what one clever scientist slash witch has invented.

Lauren Bowker wouldn’t mind being called a witch, in fact, according to a recent interview with Dazed, she spoke about her early experiences growing up near a famous site where witches were hung after being accused of murder:

“I have always been into the occults and into mixing stuff,” she says. “Even as a kid I used to mix bath potions, and was really hands-on with the stuff I had around me, making new products out of them, without even knowing I was doing it.”

Her main job is working within data visualisation where she combines fashion with science. Founder of THEUNSEEN, her previous projects have included a jacket that reacts with air pollution and a headpiece for Swarovski featuring colour-changing gemstones that react to brain activity.

Fire is her latest offering and it is a hair dye that alters colour depending on the temperature around it. It is due to be showcased at London Fashion Week by Storm models. Bowker apparently concocted the hair dye by “messing about in the lab”.

“When heat hits the pigment, or if the cool hits the pigment, it changes the bonds of the chemistry to give you a different colour, so it’s like a chemical reaction,” she says.

The dye is made using carbon-based molecules which react differently to heat or cold. In the carbon bond one of the molecules is more unstable and will absorb light in a different way, which creates the different colour.

“However, we also work with ones that change their structure, which gives you a light refraction instead, so it’s more like a prism colour change. On the outsider’s version of what the technology does, it changes its colour to temperatures. So we tuned those so that if you’re inside you get one colour and if you’re outside you get another colour. If you have red hair and you’re in the wind it might go blue. So what we did was look at data patterns of weathers and the environment in different countries and tailor the colour changes to correlate with those.”

Bowker wants to make us aware, through science and fashion, of the effect our actions have on the environment. Much of what is around us is hidden in plain sight, hence THEUNSEEN.

“If I give you a book of data and say this is your carbon footprint, and say ‘look at what you’ve done it’s really bad’, you probably wouldn’t listen to it,” says Bowker. “But if I give you a jacket, put you behind a bus and that jacket changes colour to visibly show you the pollution that surrounds you at that moment, you’re really going to understand it and have more of a connection to it. The reason I use colour a lot as a data visualisation in materials that we’re familiar with, is to allow people to see the bigger picture.”

Bowker is currently testing the Fire dye with a hope to making it commercially available in the near future.