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Andrew Alden

Tourmaline, in Hair Dryers?

By February 19, 2014

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tourmaline hair dryersI don't use hair dryers, just my fingers, so I've missed out on the latest development in the technology: ionic dryers that employ tourmaline.

Dryers that add negative ions to their output are said to help prevent static and associated frizziness. This makes sense to me, and Julyne Derrick, my colleague the Beauty Guide, testifies to its truth. She ranks ionic dryers among her top choices. But what about the tourmaline? That makes sense to me too, because tourmaline is well known for its electrical trick called pyroelectricity.

Pyroelectricity has been known since ancient times and is well known among mineralogists. You can heat a tourmaline crystal and watch it start picking up small things, like lint and paper scraps, as it cools. Pyroelectricity is not a bogus technology, but it can set off the woo-woo detectors in many people who are wary of anything crystal-related. (Cambridge University has a good tutorial on pyroelectricity.)

In this case tourmaline passes my strong woo-woo detectors. I can't say the same for using tourmaline in hair irons. I may be wrong, but the idea that tourmaline works its wonders in those conditions may be an instance of crystal-magic marketing.

By the way, drying my hair with my fingers is Julyne's recommendation too. I don't feel so bad about missing out now.
Tourmaline — Geology Guide photo


February 11, 2011 at 9:31 am
(1) Bev Wiseman says:

yes, they have tourmaline in hair straighteners too! I never knew why. I guess it’s for the the anti-static properties

February 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm
(2) Helena says:

I’d just been wondering about that! I’m glad my hair-dryer has magic geologic properties.

February 14, 2011 at 1:51 am
(3) CrystalMagicHoo-Hah-er says:

I just got your email in which you mention “crystal magic hoo-hah.” I’ve been a subscriber to your newsletter for years and years. However, I’m headed right now to unsubscribe. I’m sure you have a number of people who fall under the description of believing in crystal magic hoo-hah who subscribe to your newsletter. How sad that you, as a geologist, have no clue of the medical, spiritual and other aspects of crystals and stones. There’s more to crystals and stones than just categorizing them and putting them in a box on a shelf, where their beauty and gifts are never fully appreciated. I had no clue that you have an attitude about the “woo-woo” (as you call it) aspect of collecting and working with stones!!

February 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm
(4) Geology Guide says:

I always hate to have people take offense at something I write, even though you’re the first in 14 years to object to the idea that crystal users often believe unprovable claims. It’s a geologist’s nature, as it is with all scientists, to welcome challenging ideas. I write sympathetically about the beliefs of nonscientists. However, the large body of rootless “doctrine” on the medical/spiritual aspects of crystals and minerals is outside geology. It’s more of a subject for psychology. Readers who want that kind of information would enjoy Phylameana lila Desy’s Holistic Healing site at healing.about.com. Her large section on crystal therapy is free of challenge and full of affirmation.

February 14, 2011 at 11:22 pm
(5) Rick Martin says:

At #3, seriously,you signed up to a geologist blog because you thought the power of crystals had something to do with Geology. You probably go to Phil Plaits web site because it might have something to do with Astrology.
Good by #3 and don’t let the door of science slap you on the butt on the way out.
Good grief.

February 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm
(6) Holly says:

“How sad that you, as a geologist, have no clue of the medical, spiritual and other aspects of crystals and stones”
You expected a geologist to have a clue of the medical and spiritual aspects of rocks?
Geology falls under the department of earth sciences, not health sciences or religious studies. There are no scientifically valid studies that support the magical power of crystals, other than the 30% placebo effect. I suspect the placebo effect may be significantly higher for you, Crystal Magic Hooha-er. What I do consider sad is for you to “unsubscribe” in a huff just because an individual does not share your spiritual beliefs. Perhaps you could go pray to your giant crystal (whom you have undoubtedly housed in a sacred niche) for common sense and back off your unprovoked attack on mild-mannered Mr. Alden, who is doing us all a favor hosting this most wonderful geology site!
Thanks, Mr. Alden, for the site and thanks, Crystal Magic , for the chuckle!

March 3, 2011 at 2:19 am
(7) Katie Toby says:

I think they (the blow dryers manufacturers) are employing every material/mineral/gemstone there is on Earth that is believed to have invigorating qualities/properties. With a lot of women obsessed over beauty, no doubt they chose tourmaline as a breakthrough technology for blow dryers since it is believed and studied to possess such qualities.

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