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Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00112

Systems approach to human hair fibres: interdependence between physical, mechanical, biochemical and geometric properties of natural healthy hair

  • 1University of Cape Town, South Africa

Contextual interpretation of hair fibre data is often blind to the effects of the dynamic complexity between different fibre properties. This intrinsic complexity requires systems thinking to decipher hair fibres accurately. Hair research, studied by various disciplines, follows a reductionist research approach, where elements of interest are studied from a local context with a certain amount of detachment from other elements or contexts. Following a systems approach, the authors are currently developing a cross-disciplinary taxonomy to provide a holistic view of fibre constituents and their interactions within large-scale dynamics. Based on the development process, this paper presents a review that explores the associated features, interrelationships and interactive complexities between physical, mechanical, biochemical and geometric features of natural, healthy hair fibres. Through the review, the importance of an appropriate taxonomy for interpreting hair fibre data across different disciplines is revealed. The review also demonstrates how seemingly unrelated fibre constituents are indeed interdependent and that these interdependencies may affect the behaviour of the fibre. Finally, the review highlights how a non-integrative approach may have a negative impact on the reliability of hair data interpretation.

Keywords: Human hair analysis, systems approach, Physical properities, Mechanical Properties, Biochemical properties, Geometric properties, data reliability

Received: 27 Sep 2017; Accepted: 30 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Natalia Polouliakh, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Japan

Reviewed by:

Nathan Weinstein, Institute of Ecology, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
Syed Aun Muhammad, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Pakistan  

Copyright: © 2019 Cloete, Khumalo, Van Wyk and Ngoepe. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Malebogo Ngoepe, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa,