Molecule of the Day

Ammonium thioglycolate is the ammonium salt of thioglycolic acid. Having a thiol (R-SH), thioglycolic acid is a decent reducing agent, particularly of disulfide bonds (R-S-S-R’).


Your hair is cross-linked by legion disulfide bonds; determining whether it’s curly or straight. Thanks to some chemistry, you can rearrange that frizzy hair. You can reduce it with some thiol (in this case the less-stinky thioglycolate; complain all you want about the stink, but be glad nobody’s using beta-mercaptoethanol, which would work just as well, at the cost of all your friends). Style it and oxidize it back with some hydrogen peroxide and you’ve got your disulfides right where you want ’em, from foofy ’80’s hair, to stock-straight locks.

The peroxide also has the benefit of ameliorating the stink. Sufficiently potent oxidizers will take thiols to the odorless disulfide then the irreversibly odorless sulfonic acid.

It always bothered me that Reese Witherspoon mispronounced the chemical so badly in whichever Legally Blonde movie it was. She went to Stanford! She’s descended from John Witherspoon! Both her parents work in medicine!


  1. #1 Uncle Al
    July 25, 2007

    Thioglycolate to armodafinil, the breakfast of champions!

  2. #2 katherine sharpe
    July 25, 2007

    That footnote is precious!

  3. #3 josiane monteiro
    February 23, 2011

    more comments about amonium thioglycolate for to user in the hair ,please!!

    Observation: to send with translation for portuguese.

    “God a bless you”

  4. #4 Margaret Zhang
    October 28, 2011

    wait i googled this for orgo homework, and it brought me to this link and literally i am so happy!!!!!!!

    elle woods is an inspiration!

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