Scientists Have Started Making Hair Dye From Ribena Leftovers

By Tom Pritchard on at

There are people out there who are obsessed with natural products, because natural things are obviously better. Despite the fact those same people also live in houses with built in plumbing and use things like soap and toothpaste. That may be problematic if they want to dye their hair some sort of fantastical colour, though scientists think they've come up with an alternative solution using leftovers from the Ribena factory.

Researchers at the University of Leeds have been looking for ways to create hair dye from natural sources, and found that they could get the job done with blackcurrant skins leftover once the Ribena people have extracted all the bits they need. The skins themselves are full of anthocyanins, which provide the pigment to fruit and berries, and tend to form strong bonds with proteins. Proteins like keratin, which is what hair is made of. Colour chemist Dr Richard Blackburn said:

"Because of issues and concerns around conventional dyes, we wanted to develop biodegradable alternatives that minimise potential risks to health and offer consumers a different option. They are non-toxic, water soluble and responsible for pink, red, purple, violet and blue colours, and are widely used as natural food colourants all over the world.

We knew they bound strongly with proteins - hair is a protein - so we thought if we could find an appropriate source of these natural colours, we might be able to dye hair."

Researchers have now patented technology that allows them to extract pigment from fruit, offering red, purple, and blue colouring. They can then be mixed with other natural colouring to create different shades and new colours. Any resulting dyes will then last for around 12 washes.

So you might start seeing fruit-based hair dye on shop shelves in a couple of years time, made from a sustainable source, and recycling materials that would normally go to waste. It's like the hair dye-loving hippy's dream. [Sky News]