Although the hair care industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, there still remains a dearth in the available technologies and research methods to answer one simple question: What temperature and frequency of use will lead to permanent structural damage (i.e. heat damage) to curly hair? Currently, trained professionals in the hair industry cannot predict when heat damage will occur and often rely on heuristics and intuition in their hair care approaches. In addition, scientists that have conducted studies with heat and hair have often used European hair types, which cannot be generalized to all ethnic groups; they have also conducted experiments that are not ecologically consistent with individuals’ use context. As a result, a number of lay scientists have emerged whose use contexts are ecologically valid, but are lacking the experimental and quantitative rigor that engineers can provide. In this work, we discuss an interdisciplinary approach to integrating customer needs, design methodology, and thermal sciences for application to the hair care industry. We discuss the formulation of a predictive model, the design of an experimental test-bed for collecting data, and present initial results.

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