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Making your hair curly may soon be as simple as popping a pill, scientists say.

For the first time, they've discovered structural differences between straight, wavy and curly hair that may lead to drugs - or even shampoos - that can control hair shape.

A team from L'Oréal in Paris grew hair in the lab to find out what made it curly or straight, and found the hair bulb just under the scalp is hook-shaped in people with curly hair and straight in those with straight hair.

When it emerges from the scalp, the hair shaft retains the shape of the bulb.

"This is a breakthrough," said Dr. Bruno Bernard, head of hair biology at L'Oréal.

Researchers said they now hope to locate the "master switch" that controls follicle shape to make it possible to change hair shape with hormones or drugs. Bill Hoffmann

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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