Washing Your Hair in Zero-G

Jul 11, 2013 2:18pm

“Oh, I can’t go out on a date with you. I have to wash my hair.”

That cliched blow-off line is a feeble excuse at getting out of a date .

But if astronaut Karen Nyberg said it, she’d have the video to prove it too. She recently filmed how she gets her hair clean while living in the International Space Station.

She starts with a packet filled with warm water that she squirts around her scalp. “Sometimes the water gets away from you,” she said in the video while wrangling the water globules back into her hair. “You try and catch as much as you can.”

After running her fingers  through the tips of her hair to spread the water, she applies the no-rinse shampoo. She combs the shampoo upward as well, giving her a mohawk that would make any punk from the 1970s jealous.

The shampoo itself isn’t enough to get her hair squeaky clean though. “You kinda need to use the towel a little bit to help get the dirt out,” she said. She also adds some more water to give it a thorough cleaning.

Nyberg finishes by letting her hair dry naturally. The water will eventually evaporate from her hair and become humidity in the space station. “Our air-conditioning system will collect that into condensate,” she adds. “Our water processing system will turn that into drinking water.”

So it turns out that aboard the ISS, you don’t need to lather. Just rinse and repeat.

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