Could the piping in your house be the cause of weakness, breaking and dullness in your hair? A recent study says the copper traces that get into your tap water, thanks to processing, water heaters and potentially your home's pipes, are a significant factor in having a bad hair day.

The problem is that one strand of hair can grow on your head for three years before falling out, and over that time the copper builds, as your hair is like a sponge. You're at more of a risk if you dye your hair, and the buildup speeds up damage caused by the sun, creating split ends, flyaways and dulling shine. The amount of copper isn't a huge amount, but it's problematic because it acts as a catalyst -- increasing your chance of damage.

When you color your hair, free radicals may form that damage the hair's protein, and adding copper to the mix catalyses these reactions. Copper's presence also increases the chance of forming reactive molecules that break down the outer sheath of hair and the cortex. As a result, hair is weaker, prone to breakage and loses its luster. Levels of copper vary from person to person, but it's an issue for almost all of us.

Thankfully, many are taking proactive measures, with both Procter and Gamble and Pantene working to develop products that will combat the effects of copper. P&G is working on both hair dyes and shampoos, while Pantene's first focus is to incorporate chelants (chemicals used in some laundry detergents that could control copper-induced reactions) into hair dyes to decrease their damage.

So next time your hair just won't do what you want it to, blame that pesky Cu.

Bad Hair Day? Blame the Copper

Bad Hair Day? Blame the Copper

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