Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

The population of coloured fibres in head hair

R. Palmer & S. Oliver. Science & Justice, 44(2), pp. 83-8. (2004).


In 2002 a population study of textile fibres in human hair was carried out using 26 volunteers in Cambridgeshire, UK. Over 12,000 fibres were recovered from a variety of hair lengths using low adhesive tape and classified according to colour, generic type and fibre length. The results of the study showed that the most common fibre colours were black/grey (48%), blue (29.1%) and red (12.7%), the least common being green, orange/brown and yellow which each accounted for less than 5% of the total. Natural fibres (mainly cotton) were predominant (72.3%) and man-made fibres were considerably less frequent. When colour and generic type were classified together, the most common combinations were black and blue cottons. The least common were the man-made fibre/colour combinations with the most frequent of these accounting for less than 7% of the sample. Fibre loads carried by long hair were found to be significantly less than that carried by short hair. The results of this study are in accordance with previous fibre population studies using other types of recipient surfaces and are likely to be influenced by factors such as seasonal and geographical variation.

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