What is the Composition of Hair? An Introduction

In this article, “What is the Composition of Hair? An Introduction,” we will look at the different elements, structure, and types of human hair.

A shaft of hair comprises three main layers, cuticle, cortex, and medulla. Each layer has different characteristics and function. We will also include the surrounding components.

The shape of the follicle determines the pattern of the hair shaft, while the width determines its thickness and strength. Additionally, different types of hair grow on different parts of the body.

How is hair affected by electrolysis? We’ll take a brief look.

Hair

Got Hair? What is It?

Hair is an outgrowth of skin similar to fingernails and toenails, though not as hard. It can be found on most areas of the body except mucous membranes, the lips, tongue, palms, and soles of feet.

The only living part of hair is in the follicle below the skin. The visible shaft has no life.

Lanugo: This is fine hair covering an embryo. It is usually shed before birth.

Vellus: It covers most of the body, is soft, short, and has no pigment due to the absence of the medulla. It is formed in the sebaceous lobe.

Terminal: These hairs are found on the scalp, underarms, pubic regions, men’s face, and other areas of the body. Abnormalities in women may cause “male-pattern” hair on the face, shoulders, chest, and back … hirsutism.

A vellus hair, on occasions, when stimulated by a hormonal imbalance or external irritation, may start growing downwards into the follicle and become a terminal hair.

In the dermis, the second layer of skin, terminal hair begins its cycle in the follicle. This is an extension of the skin forming a pocket in which are found the components directly or indirectly a part of hair structure.

Why is hair straight, wavy, curly, or kinky? That’s a common question.

Curly-Hair
Curly Hair

Straight: When hair comes out of a follicle that is round, it is straight.

Wavy: An oval follicle produces wavy hair.

Curly: Hair from a flat follicle comes out curly.

Kinky: This type of hair is usually tightly curled and is produced from a flat follicle.

Ethnicity tends to play a significant role in the type of hair an individual has. It may not always be evident especially when persons are from mixed nationalities.

It is important for dermatologists, electrologists, and laser technicians to know their clients’ background before treatment.

Composition: Elements

What is the composition of hair? You may have heard of keratin, a protein found in hair.

There are at least five main elements that make up keratin … carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. Hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen are gases, while carbon and sulfur are solids.

Keratin is made up of several amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

Composition: Cross Section

When a strand of terminal hair is dissected, we will see three layers. From outer to inner, they are cuticle, cortex, and medulla.

Cuticle: This hard, scaly outer layer overlaps in a shingle-like manner. It gives hair its elasticity and transparency.

Cortex: Here we will find elongated, keratinized cells and the pigment, melanin, which gives hair its color.

Medulla: This innermost layer is mainly hollow, contains some cells, and found only in terminal hair.

Brown-Hair

 

 

 

 

 

Surrounding each strand of hair are …

Follicle: This is where activities of the hair shaft take place. A follicle is a continuation of the epidermis which forms a pocket in the dermis.

Inner Sheath: The cuticle overlaps with this lining securing it to the follicle.

Outer Sheath: This outer lining helps to protect and form the hair shaft below the skin.

Papilla: The blood supply providing nourishment is found here. Nerve endings are also in this region.

Bulb: The end of the hair root which fits over the cone-shaped papilla.

Sebaceous Glands: These glands produce sebum, oils which lubricate the skin and hair.

Pilosebaceous Unit: It comprises the follicle, sebaceous glands, and arrector pili muscle. The units together form the pilosebaceous system.

When a person is cold or frightened, the arrector pili muscle contracts causing “goosebumps” and hair to stand straight.

The more knowledgeable we are, we’ll have a better understanding of things that affect it negatively or positively. Imbalances, diseases, and external influences will affect the growth and well-being of hair.

Professionals such as dermatologists, endocrinologists, and hair removal specialists, including electrologists, have a special interest in the composition of hair.

Test-Tubes

The Moisture Factor: Permanent Hair Removal

We must look at the relationship between hair composition and permanent hair removal methods.

When an electrologist or laser hair removal specialist is presented with a client, she is concerned with more than just removing hair. Several factors must be taken into consideration in order to deliver effective treatment.

This is why a thorough consultation is essential. There will be questions about genetics, water intake, nutrition, health, medication, lifestyle, and abnormalities.

During treatment, the moisture factor at the base of the follicle will determine how easily the hair comes out. The amount of water the client drinks, the skin type, and genetics play a role in the moisture content.

This may seem insignificant; however, the moisture also contains salt. This is important in the creation of lye, sodium hydroxide. Lye aides in the destruction of hair follicles in an effective electrolysis treatment.

The Whole Matter

So here’s the thing: A study of hair includes its origin, growth, texture, surroundings components, and factors that affect it.

Hair is made up of several elements, comprised of smaller units. Keratinized protein is the major component. It also comprises different structures coming together to form one unit.

Specialists in the treatment of skin and hair removal must be knowledgeable about its components. Individuals will benefit also from knowing as much as possible for their own sake.

I hope this short article, “The Composition of Hair: An Introduction,” has benefited you in some way. There is a vast amount of information on the subject and related matter.

This was not intended to go into greater scientific details. It serves only as an introduction especially to those who are at a loss and need to be pointed in the right direction.

Feel free to leave your questions and comments below. I will do my best to address them.

Veron Percy-Jarrett

As a Licensed Electrologist, I have an interest in hirsutism, superfluous hair growth. I present information on and around the topic.

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