Hair Anatomy: What is Hair Made of?
WHY bother with hair anatomy?
Well....hair is actually pretty interesting. The color, length, and diameter all vary from person to person.
It all depends on your race, genes, age, health, climate, etc.
What IS hair made of? -- Well, hair is primarily composed of a protein: keratin.
This keratin stuff is pretty resistant to wear and tear so is great stuff for body parts that get roughed up or that need to be protected.
Keratin makes up the main part of the epidermis (skin), teeth enamel, claws, feathers, hooves, nails, hair, and horns. Hair also sticks to stuff pretty easily and is not easy to destroy because of the hair anatomy design.
The outside of hair looks like little flat scales (sort of like tiles on a roof) that protect the inside part of the hair. In healthy hair, these scales lie flat.
Under the microscope, human hair looks different than animal hair or fur.
The Elements in Hair:
- carbon (about 50%)
- oxygen (about 20%)
- some nitrogen, hydrogen, and sulfur
- Plus hair also contains some fats, vitamins, and even a bit of water.
Ever wonder why you feel your hair moving?
Well, each hair follicle has tiny sensory nerve fibers at the base. When the hair bends, these nerves are stimulated and "voila"... We feel the hair move. Pretty remarkable really! Hair is also a touch receptor that is very sensitive.
To top it off, each hair follicle also has special oil glands (or sebaceous gland) attached that produces oil to condition the hair and skin around it. The oil makes the hair shiny and slightly waterproof as well. That's why we get oily, greasy hair if we produce too much.....so time to shampoo. So hair anatomy also involves the surrounding structures as well.
How thin is a shaft of a hair?
Well, the average scalp hair is only about 60-120 micrometers in diameter (about half the thickness of a sheet of paper), but it depends on hair color and ethnicity. A red hair strand is said to be thicker than other colors such as black, brown, or blonde. Hair curliness or straightness makes it look different as well.
Hair static - Why does hair get staticky?
According to an October 2010 article in 'Science Illustrated'
magazine, it's all about static electricity. We don't realize it, but we often accumulate a surplus of negative or positive charges on our bodes as electrons pass between us and object we touch. This transfer causes a sudden jolt of electricity, static shock, at the point of contact. When hair collects an electric charge from an object (like a hat) each of the hair strands repel each other, making them stand on end. The hair strands might also be attracted to a nearby object with the opposite charge.
In the summertime, water molecules in humid air help whisk away excess electrons, helping to reduce their buildup on our bodies. And so, that's why static electricity is often worse in the winter when the air is dry, especially indoors!* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Naturally curly or straight, kinky, silky, frizzy? It all depends on genes, shaft shape, hair condition, air humidity, and more!
Your hair anatomy? -- well it's all a miracle really!
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