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Development of a new generation of hair colour products

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr M J Plater, Dr W T A Harrison  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Hair coloration is a popular fashion. Modern products can be divided into oxidative and nonoxidative types depending upon the chemistry that is used. The most common method is permanent or oxidative hair dyeing which requires three main components. The first is an easily oxidised electron rich aromatic amine such as p-phenylenediamine or p-aminophenol which is called a primary developer.  The second component is a coupler such as m-phenylenediamine or m-aminophenol. The third component is an oxidant which is typically hydrogen peroxide mixed with aqueous ammonia. The hydrogen peroxide and aqueous ammonia mixture oxidise the primary developer which reacts with the coupler and colours the hair. Typically from 4-10 aromatic precursors are used. This process is based on AW Hofmanns 1863 discovery but it has three main disadvantages. It uses hydrogen peroxide which can be used to make explosives, ammonia is environmentally unfriendly and p-phenylenediamine is toxic along with the other aromatic amines and many by-products which form. A new method studied here avoids these three problems. In this method a suitable set of dyes will be designed, synthesised, purified and evaluated. As well as overcomeing the above disadvantages the dyes must adhere strongly to hair like the classical p-phenylenediamine derived dyes.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in chemistry.

Formal applications can be completed online:

• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry

• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor

• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding

• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)

• Detailed CV, Personal Statement/Motivation Letter and Intended source of funding

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr M J Plater ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. There are Additional Research Costs of £6,000 per annum attached to this project. These are in addition to tuition fees and living expenses. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting


1. Morel OJX and Christie RM. Chem Rev 2011; 111: 2537.
2. Plater MJ and Raab A. J. Chem. Res. 2021; 450.
3. Sousa AC, Fátima M, Piedade MM, Martins LO and Robalo MP. Green Chem 2016; 18: 6063.
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