In a quest to make a less toxic hair dye, scientists created a dye using graphene. And it has an added bonus — it tames static frizz, according to new research.

Most permanent hair dyes use harsh chemicals to open up the outside layer of the hair so that other chemicals can get inside and change its color, Chemical & Engineering News reports. A team of researchers at Northwestern University decided to use a different strategy: Instead of opening up the hair, why not just coat it with tiny colored particles made out of graphene?

Graphene is basically a super-thin form of graphite — the same mineral as your pencil — where all the atoms lie next to each other in a single plane. It’s also flexible and super strong. (“It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran-Wrap,” an engineer at Columbia said back in 2008.) But it also gets a lot of hype. “I think a lot of people are jumping onto it as a catchword and making people think they have a ‘gee-wiz’ material, like this glasses company I saw saying they have graphene in the glasses,” Les Johnson, co-author of a book on graphene, told The Verge in January.

I need this anti-static hair dye please.
Credit: Alex Parkin

This latest use of graphene in hair dye could be more of the same — but based on a study published this week in the journal Chem, it looks promising. The dye is made of chemically modified graphene particles, a sugar from the pulverized shells of…