Feature article

Straight up about the science of control

Dyson’s Lead Design Engineer Sandra Lup reveals the science behind hair and how to be in perfect control.

29 January 2021

People are attached to their hair, and not just literally but emotionally.

Your crowning glory reflects the way you feel about yourself – a bad hair day can set the tone for the start of a negative day. And this influence is not just a phenomenon of recent years. Hair has caused talk throughout history, in politics, in society – for centuries it has set us apart, brought us together, or indicated trends – in short, your hair reflects the time you live in.

It’s this keen understanding of hair, knowing how to manage it, and our relentless approach to engineering that led us to introduce new technologies that deliver better ways to style hair. Our research also uncovered that one of the main frustrations was hair damage due to the use of heated devices to style hair.

These insights provided the catalyst for Dyson to begin exploring the science of how hair should be straightened.

The Science of Control

To straighten hair, a combination of heat, tension and control is required. Heat is needed to break the hydrogen bonds in the hair, tension and compression to reshape these bonds, and control to help improve the evenness of heat and tension application for perfect alignment to achieve the desired style.

What is hair made out of?

79% protein

  • α-keratin is a long, fibrous protein that gives hair its shape and structural properties
  • Keratin is also found in nails and skin

17% water
  • Hair naturally contains ‘bound’ water
  • The amount depends on the humidity of the environment
  • When there is an excess of ‘free’ water, hair is considered wet

4% other
  • Fats and oils within the hair act as a glue to help hold the structure together and make it water repellent.
  • Melanin pigments give hair its colour.

Did you know?

  • Hair shape is held in place by hydrogen bonds
  • These hydrogen bonds can be broken by heat
  • Once the bonds have been temporarily broken you need to stretch the hair into its new shape and realign the keratin fibres relative to each other. The hydrogen bonds are reformed in new locations by drying and/or cooling the hair down.
  • The hair needs to be kept under tension until after the bonds have formed otherwise the hair will try to return to its natural shape
  • Heat causes the keratin fibres to vibrate which can break the hydrogen bonds. This makes it easier to tension and style the hair into a new shape. When the hair cools, the vibrations reduce and bonds reform.

This knowledge contributed to the development of the Dyson CorraleTM straightener – our latest beauty problem-solving piece of engineering and the only straightener with pioneering flexing plate technology.

Unlike traditional straighteners which rely on conventional solid plates, the unique flexing plates of the Dyson CorraleTM straightener adapt to the hair so they apply tension more evenly and stop strands splaying, and reduce frizz and flyaways. Considering that damage can affect the shine of your hair, this greater control allows outstanding styles to be created with less reliance on heat.

Three precise heat settings also allow more control – at 165°C, 185°C and 210°C. The temperature options allow the user to tailor the settings to suit their hair type, length and desired style, where in the past with traditional straighteners, they may not have been offered this ability. This adaptability allows those with more sensitive hair types to embrace styling with a straightener, where previously they may have steered clear.

The technology within the machine is informed by extensive user trials of which Dyson engineers completed over 600 hours with 800 participants across five countries globally. This is together with insights from industry leading stylists such as Jen Atkin, Jon Reyman, Larry King and Jawara. This real user intelligence from both industry and consumers explored a breadth of hair textures, different style desires, tool desires and demands and hair challenges in general.

Get in Control

We know that hair reflects the time that we live in and 2020 and the months ahead will be one of the most unprecedented times in modern history. While hair trends continue to be a mainstay, there is a growing spotlight on self-care1 and by relation, hair health. For that, the Dyson CorraleTM offers the seamless intersection between style and health, letting you manage your do with more control – be it the sleek glass look or beach wave chic – while ensuring less heat reliance so that you’ll be in perfect control of your hair.


[1] Source: Kantar Worldpanel

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