Bull or Not?

Feb 11 2013 Published by under [Biology&Environment]

One of my favorite blogs, The Beauty Brains, posted an answer to the following question recently:

I remember reading on the webs that bull semen was the new thing to make your hair healthy looking and shiny I was wondering if that could actually work?

Seriously? I had not heard this one, and I read fashion mags every morning while I dry my hair! Google to the rescue. Turns out bull semen has been used in salon and spa hair treatments for several years, most often in combination with keratin and other "natural" substances.

The Beauty Brains have training as cosmetic scientists and provided the following answer:

Anyway, as everyone knows bull semen consists of a variety of lipoproteins and nucleic acids, the most predominant being glutamic acid. Given it’s rather…sticky…texture, bull semen will coat the hair and provide some residual shine as long as it’s not washed out.  However, since hair consists of dead cells this amino acid mixture won’t provide any special rejuvenating effect. And, it certainly won’t work as well as an ingredient like silicone. Considering that better alternatives exist, and given the potential sourcing issues involved with obtaining semen, I think I’ll stick to a good shine spray.

You really should click over and read their stuff, especially the puns rejected for the bull semen post.

Of course, I wondered more about this product. Having lived my life in cattle country, I had wandered past a number of exhibits for frozen bull jiz at various state fairs. Artificial insemination is wide-spread in the US:

A large majority of dairy cows in the US, Canada and European countries are artificially inseminated. Artificial insemination of beef cows is also popular, particularly in purebred herds. The advantage of AI over natural service is that it facilitates rapid genetic improvement by allowing use of only the top bulls. Some bulls have sired more than 100,000 offspring via AI.

"Natural service," tee-hee ;). Semen collection involves a cow to get the bull in the mood and an artificial vagina with lube. Pictures can be found here of the ultimate fake mounting with diversion of the bull's penis into the artificial vagina. Bulls get to get off 2-3 times a day for 2 or 3 days each week. I suspect that gives both the bull and the bull-juggler welcome time away from each other.

Here is a video, just in case you are hating your job today:

After collection, technicians examine the semen for quality. Some facilities offer sex-specific samples and other high-end goodies, and all then aliquot and freeze the cattle-cum.

What I have not been able to figure out is what the criteria are for cosmetic use. Do expired or inadequate specimens get shunted to the beauty market? Or do stylists consider avid swimmers necessary for the "beneficial effects?"

I love my current products that contain chemicals concocted in a nice laboratory somewhere, rather than coating my locks with bovine happy juice. That practice just seems wrong, for me and the bull.

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