The hair is an important part of the body that many people know very little about. There are even some individuals that do not consider the hair as an integral part of the body. There are some misconceptions about the hair being dead cells that have very little to do with the rest of the body. For those that really care about their hair, understanding what the hair is made of will help them to take better care of the hair.
The hair is actually an essential part of the body that contribute meaningfully to the way an individual looks. For women, people may even notice the condition of the hair before observing any other part of the body.
Why Do You Need To Know What The Hair Is Made Up Of?
You may just want to know about what hair is composed of out of curiosity. A good knowledge of the hair and what it is made of will help you in so many ways. If you want to take proper care of your hair, this knowledge will be very useful. A good knowledge of what the hair is made of will help you to know what to eat when you want to improve the health of your hair. The knowledge will also help you to know what to avoid when it comes to hair products and treatment.
About The Human Hair
The hair is a fascinating thing. Most mammals have hairs that are very useful in a number of ways. For humans, the hair is not as pronounced as it is in some of the closely related species. The hair in our body is concentrated on our head and certain parts of the body (pubic regions, especially). In fact, when we talk about the hair, many automatically think of the hair on the head. This is understandable, considering the fact that these are the hairs that are noticeable in the body. They are also the hairs that enhance the looks of women. For the men, facial hairs may also be considered when hair is generally discussed because they contribute meaningfully in determining how men look. Another special thing about human hair is the way they grow. The hair on our head can actually grow longer than what can be seen in other animals.
What Exactly Is The Hair Made Of?
We can start by looking at the way Wikipedia defines hair. Hair is defined by this website as a protein filament that grows from follicles found in the dermis. From the definition, it is clear to see that protein is the major constituent of hair. Alpha-keratin is definitely the most important of these proteins. This is not the end of the story, however. If you are really interested in knowing what the hair is made of, read on carefully as we consider some very important points.
Keratin and Hair
As has been mentioned above, the human hair is majorly composed of keratin. Keratin is the same protein that is found in the fingernails, toenails, and skin. It is a strong protein that behaves differently in the different parts of the body it is found. The keratin that makes up the major part of the hair is formed by amino acids molecules linked by a cysteine disulphide bridge (2). The amino acids that forms these proteins that make up the air are sourced from the food we eat. This is why protein intake is considered important when someone is trying to grow hair.
The Different Structures Generally Referred To As Hair
When we talked about the hair, it is normal for many to think just about the part of the hair that is visible. The hair actually consist of two distinct structures: the hair follicle and the hair shaft.
The Hair Follicle
The hair follicle is the part of the hair that we cannot see. It is the part that is beneath the skin. It will be the bulb we can see when a hair is pulled from the skin. The hair follicle is located in the dermis and maintains stem cells. It is the part of the hair that regrows the hair when one falls off. According to Wikipedia, the hair follicle can also help to regrow skin after a wound. Considering the fact that keratin is also part of the skin, this is understandable.
The Hair Shaft
The hair shaft is the part of the hair that we can see. It is the hard filamentous part that extends above the skin surface. It is the part we are mostly concerned about when we are talking about the hair and how it affects looks. The hair shaft of different people are different in a number of ways. While some individuals have curly hairs, others have straight hairs, or wavy hairs. This can be a genetic factor and is determined by the shape of the hair shaft and the angle it grows out from the dermis. Though the hair of people look different, they are exactly the same scientifically.
The Different Layers of the Hair Shaft
The hair shaft is made of three distinct layers namely the cuticle, cortex, and medulla. We will briefly discuss these different layers from the innermost to the outer layer.
This is a honeycomb-like core of the hair structure. It is at the centre of the fibre and is mostly disorganized. The medulla is majorly made up of glycogen (a sugar) and citrulline (an amino acid). This unstructured innermost layer is also important in determining the overall condition of the hair.
This is a hard keratin layer that surround the medulla and therefore the mid layer in any strand of hair. It is a highly structured and organized region that serves as the primary source of mechanical strength and water uptake. The cortex is also the part of the hair that contains melanin and therefore determines the colour of the hair based on the type of melanin granules and their distribution.
This is the outermost layer of the hair. It is the protective layer and also gives hair its shine. It has a somewhat complex structure and also contain some amount of melanin. It is also covered by a single molecular layer of lipid that makes the hair fibres repel water.
How the Hair Grows
It is important to repeat at this point that the hair is majorly composed of protein. Keratin has also been mentioned as the most important of these proteins. For a better understanding of the other little components of the human hair, it is important that we discuss how hair grows.
Hair growth starts from the hair follicles. The hair follicles, as has been described earlier, are the parts of the hair that are embedded below the skin. The root hair is the portion of the hair strand that is in the follicle. It is at this part of the hair that growth occurs. Generally, growth occurs when nutrients are converted to hair cell. As the cells are made, they are attached to the follicle and the older cells are pushed outward to make the hair strand longer. This means that the newest part of the hair that you can see are the part that are located close to your scalp or the skin of the part of the body the hair is growing at. They are the parts of the root hair that has been keratinized.
Keratinization is the process that happens as hair are pushed up from the hair follicle. The process is necessary to make the hair appear as it needs to be when it emerges from the dermis. The process ensures that the hair cells that are formed deep in the skin are properly filled with fibrous protein (keratin) as they are pushed outward. They also lose their nucleus in the process and when they finally emerge from the skin they will be in the form we see them – interwoven protein-rich fibres that helps to complete our looks.
The Building Blocks of Hair
It is important to mention at this point that each of the hair follicles in your skin are connected to blood supply. The blood supplies the nutrients that are needed to build the new hair cells. Protein may be the most important nutrient that is needed to build the cells but it is definitely not the only nutrient used. There are some other nutrients that are vital in building the.
Biotin is a form of vitamin B. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is variously referred to as vitamin B7 or “vitamin H”. The vitamin helps to metabolize amino acids from food, thereby helping to form the keratin needed for formation of hair cells and overall growth. Biotin is also helpful in strengthening the cortex.
Iron is another important nutrient that plays indirect but essential role in hair formation and growth. Iron helps in the formation of red blood cells and the cells are responsible for delivering oxygen and the nutrients needed to create new hair cells. This is one of the reasons iron deficiency always result to hair loss.
This is another vitamin B that plays significant role in hair growth. It is particularly referred to as vitamin B3 and is helpful in repairing the DNA in hair follicles. The DNA is important in giving the cells of the hair follicles instructions. The instructions are necessary for the hair follicles to function properly and facilitate hair growth.
Vitamin C is another important vitamin that helps in the formation of hair cells and, subsequent, hair growth. It is an important vitamin that helps the body to absorb iron. As has been discussed above, iron is also very important in the process of hair cell formation and hair growth. In addition to encouraging iron absorption, vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant. This property of the vitamin helps to protect the hair follicles from free radicals that can cause different kinds of damages.
This is another nutrient that help in facilitating the formation of new hair cells. Zinc supports DNA production and as has been described earlier, the DNA delivers the right instructions that facilitates hair cell formation and hair growth on the long run. In addition to this, zinc can also help to balance hormones in the body. Unbalanced hormone can always result to hair loss. Lack of zinc in the body will always result to deterioration of the protein structure of the hair and this can cause shedding.
Does The Hair Contain Oil?
There is a common misconception that the hair contains oil. This is actually not the case. The oil that we see naturally in our hair are from the sebaceous glands in the skin. These oils may help the hair to remain healthy and good looking, but they are not part of the hair.
What to Do With Your Knowledge of What Hair Is Made Of
Now that you have a good idea of what hair is made of, you can use the knowledge to improve the condition of your hair and facilitate hair growth. Eat the right food that promote hair growth when you want your hair to grow and remain healthy. Get enough protein and the other nutrients discussed above into your diet. Such foods as asparagus, eggs, beans, citrus, chicken, beef, fish, spinach and oyster can be very helpful. Also avoid anything that can destroy the shape of protein such as heat. You can also use natural oils to promote hair growth and improve the overall condition of your hair.