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Keratofibre Spray

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue.

Keratofibre spray, usually abbreviated keratospray or keraspray, first appears at TL 9 on many worlds. It is sold in pressurised containers about the size of a soda can, usually with a detachable or integrated spray nozzle.

Use and Effect

When pressed, the nozzle emits a spray of fine particles (keratofibres) that are similar in structure to natural hair. The first particles attach to skin, the next ones latch to the bonded particles and so forth, forming long chains and strands that closely resemble hair. The longer the nozzle is pressed, the longer the artificial hair will be; low-TL keratospray is limited to about fifteen centimeters (and because it is generally easily detectable, is often derisively called ‘spray toupee’), while TL12 spray can yield an ankle-length, luxuriant mane. The higher the production technology level, the less distinguishable keratofibre is from natural hair at close inspection (although investigative agents and customs officers may be trained to look closely for the tell-tale points where the fibres attach to the scalp).

A thick shock of keratosprayed hair can cover and hide up to 10 centimeters of existing hair, but windy conditions or sudden pressure differential (such as in an opening airlock) may reveal the hair underneath.

Keratofibre can be cut, coiffed, and washed like normal hair; it will begin to fall out after a week (although at TL 11, longer-lasting products are available at 130% the price). The process can be hastened with an infrared laser pencil, which is usually sold with the can and will simply break the bond between the artificial follicles and the scalp.

Types of Keratospray

TL 9 keratospray comes in a limited range of colours and styles, all of which are obviously artificial; with rising tech level, a wide range of natural colours becomes available, as do different styles: wavy, straight, frizzed, pointed, curly. There are also thousands of dazzling party colours to be had at specialty stores, which range from pastel or metallic shades through ever-shifting hues to bioluminescent patterns.

Mostly, cans come with a prefabricated colour, but several branches of LSP-Talsen also market a system where a colourless keratobase in the container can be custom-coloured by inserting one or more bullet-shaped colour cartridges. This mix-and-match system is popular with professional hairdressers and, interestingly enough, undercover agents. There is also a blending spray (available at TL 11) that will achieve a smooth blending of the natural and artificial hair colour if the difference between the two is not too great.

There are separate brands of keratospray for Aslan and Vargr, owing to their different hair structure; the latter are especially fond of keratospray to cover bald or mangy patches of fur. Ironically, Imperial companies are seen to produce much better Vargr-specific sprays than firms in the Extents; few original Vargr products look anything like real fur. Human hairdressing experts are also in high demand along the border to administer the spray. If a Vargr applies keratospray xirself, xir limited colour vision can lead to spectacular and embarrassing clashes of fur colour, largely undetectable to fellow Vargr, but very noticeable to humans.

Keratospray in use

Leisure and lifestyle are the largest market segments for keratospray, with many brands specialising in either temporary party apparel, vanity coiffure or the masking of male-pattern baldness. Professional keratospray artists are known to create elaborate and fantastic hairstyles using the spray as a medium.

Undercover agents are the second, and less-known, market segment. While they may occasionally make use of over-the-counter products bought at a local store, most professionals use specialised ranges only available through government or organised criminal channels. Those sprays are longer-lasting, designed to imitate natural hair colours, and much more likely to pass for real hair.

Keratofibre Sprays TL Mass Cost
Keratofibre spray (15cm hair length, limited choice of colours and hair structure) 9 0.5 kg Cr 10
Keratofibre spray (shoulder-length, wider selection of colours) 10 0.5 kg Cr 15
Keratofibre spray (waist-length, near-natural colours and hair structures available) 11 0.3 kg Cr 20
Keratofibre spray (any length, luminescent and special-effect colouring available) 12 0.3 kg Cr 20

One spray container is enough to provide one person with a full head of long hair (up to the maximum length indicated) or two persons with a half-length hairstyle each.

Supplemental/Specialty Products TL Mass Cost
Laser pencil remover 9 negligible Cr10
Blender spray 11 0.3 kg Cr 10
LSP-Talsen colourless keratobase 12 0.3 kg Cr 15
LSP-Talsen colour cartridge 12 negligible Cr 3
Secret service / undercover-issue keratofibre spray (near-identical to natural hair) 12 0.3 kg Cr 150