Even an astronaut needs to wash her hair occasionally, and in a newly released video, astronaut Karen Nyberg demonstrates how it's done -- in space.
Nyberg, 43, is currently the only female aboard the International Space Station, and the only member of the crew with hair that flows past her shoulders.
In the zero gravity environment of the ISS, Nyberg's blond locks billow wildly around her head, even when her hair is pulled back in a ponytail. But when she lets her hair down to wash it, it sticks straight up above her head, troll-doll-style.
(No offense Karen, but that's really what it looks like!)
Aboard the ISS, you can't use running water because the water would flow everywhere with no gravity to help pull it down, so instead Nyberg begins her hair washing routine by wetting her scalp with little squirts of warm water from a bottle and working that water through her hair. (Even then, some of the water droplets float off -- she tries to brush them back toward her hair.)
Once her hair is wet, she applies no-rinse shampoo, working it through to the ends of her hair with a comb that is handily velcroed to the wall to keep it within arm's reach. Because she can't stand under running water to make sure all the dirt is gone from her hair, she adds a few more squirts from her water bottle and then towels her head vigorously.
Hair conditioner does not appear to be part of the process.
Although it's neat to see Nyberg's hair sticking straight up throughout the process, my favorite part of the three-minute video is at the end when Nyberg explains what happens to the water she just used to clean her hair.
As her hair dries, the water becomes humidity in the air, which then gets collected by the ISS air-conditioning system into condensate, and before long, the water-processing system will turn that into drinking water.
Aboard the ISS, nothing goes to waste!