People look out for thickness, shine and volume in hair, but there is a lot more to hair than that. We rely on adverts to tell us what products are best for the health of our hair, and a lot of us buy into this. Corporations spend tens of thousand to make advertisements that will sell their products for profit, so how do we know if what they are saying is the truth. They use big words to convince us that there product is more scientifically suitable for our hair, but really how would they know.
Granted that they do carry out research, but they don’t test your hair specifically, so how can they possibly predict that there product will have the best effect on your hair. There are too many variable to consider, such as age, health, length, colour and many more. So what is the point of this ramble you ask… well the key is education, if you know the science behind hair, you will have a better idea of what is best for your hair.
Lets start at the top, The Scalp. It is not exactly part of the hair, but it is very important to maintain its health. Under the scalp there are thousand of blood vessels that supplies the scalp with the necessary ingredient it require. A red blood cell is almost like a taxi carrying iron and oxygen around the body, and your hair follicles and nerves benefit from this a lot. The nerves in your scalp control movement, but also they are what sends signals to the brain when your hair is tight and uncomfortable. Fact: Changing the parting of your hair can result in a headache because the nerves are experiencing discomfort. In a way the nerves are a way for your body to tell you when you are doing something that is damaging, so keeping them healthy is important.Next is the Hair Follicle. The hair bulb forms the base of the hair follicle, which is the little white dot that is at the end of your hair if you pull it out. Every hair follicle has an oil (sebaceous) gland attached to it which is where your hair gets that healthy, shiny look from. Excessive use of heat and chemicals damages these glands, and in turn that causes dry hair and split ends. Of course your hair grows from this area, but hair growth happens in 3 phases that a lot of people are unaware off.Phase 1 is “Anlagen”, this is when the hair first starts growing. In this phase it will grow as long as the health of your hair will allow, and in a variety of different lengths of time. Fact: Each strand of your hair grows at different times, which result in different length. If you don’t get your hair cut for a while, you will notice this.
Phase 2 is called “Catagen” and this is when the growth of your hair is coming to an end. The rate of growth slows down and the hair follicles shrink in order to prepare for the next stage. This takes place over a few weeks.
Phase 3 is the final stage called “Telogen”. This stage takes a few months, and as hair stops growing, it is detached from the follicle. The hair follicle will start again at phase 1, and push out the old hair as it grows. Fact: The hair on your brush is often the hair detached from the follicle. If your hair seems thinner it is because you are pulling the old hair out before the time to replace it.
Next is the Hair Shaft which is the most attractive part. Each hair is between 0.04 – 0.12 mm thick and consists of 3 layers. The first layer is the “Cuticle” which is the outer layer of the hair. It is tough in order to protect the inner layers, however it is extremely elastic which allows it to bend in all the ways that it does. This layer holds the oil and provides the shine of the hair. Fact: Lighter coloured hair is often thinner that darker colour.
The next layer is “Cortex”, and this is the thickest of the three. It takes up over 80% of the hair shaft and consists of protein molecules. This is also the layer that hold the colour pigment. Fact: In later age your follicle stops producing the pigment which is why your hair turns white. The final layer is the “Medulla” which is the centre. It acts almost like a spine and is the structure of the hair itself. People with thin hair have little of no medulla.
Finally the ends of your hair gets sealed before leaving the scalp, to protect from the elements etc. Split end are bad because you are exposing the inner layers of your hair to damage. People often experience thinness with length and this is only because the hair itself gets thinner before sealing at the bottom, so there is nothing to worry about, this is also what makes your hair seem thicker when you have had is cut. It is a myth that getting you hair cut makes your hair grow more. The end of your hair has nothing to do with the follicle once it has grown out.
I hope I have succeeded in helping you get a better understanding of what your hair is made up of, hopefully this will help you pick the right hair products in the future.
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- Image 1 posted by Beth Barcoe courtesy of myavana, as seen here
- Image 2 posted by Beth Barcoe courtesy of indigo hair and beauty, as seen here
- Image 3 posted by Beth Barcoe courtesy of hairloss.org, as seen here
- Image 4 posted by Beth Barcoe courtesy of ASIAHAIRTALK, as seen here
- Image 5 posted by Beth Barcoe courtesy of pretty gossip, as seen here
- Image 6 posted by Beth Barcoe courtesy of ROCKING' it NAPPTURAL, as seen here