What is Hair Made of?

What is Hair Made of?

Hair is a fascinating thing. Humans are one of the only mammals to have a “naked” appearance with the majority of our hair concentrated on top of our heads. We are also unique in the length that our hair will grow. No other animals resort to cutting their hair the way that we do.

One of the most interesting things about hair is how it’s made. If you have ever wondered what is the construction of hair, you may be surprised to find out how complex such simple looking structures really are. There has been a lot of research done into the construction of hair as companies have sought to discover ways to grow your hair fuller and stronger than ever before.

Hair Follicles

Hair grows from hair follicles, which are embedded below the skin on your scalp. The portion of the strand of hair that is in the hair follicle is known as the root. The part that you can see, touch and style is called the hair strand. At the base of the root in the hair follicle is the hair bulb. The bulb is where nutrients are converted into new hair cells.
hair close up
As cells are made, they are added to the base of the hair stand in the portion known as the “bulb”. Older parts of the hair are pushed outward, lengthening the strand in a process that’s commonly referred to as growth. The newest part of your visible hair is the part located the closest to your head. Each hair follicle is connected to your body’s blood supply. This allows nutrients to be transported to the hair follicle for new growth. The blood supply is also connected to an oil producing gland and a small muscle that allows the hair to stand on end or lay flat.

Keratinization

As hair is pushed up through the hair follicle and towards the surface of your scalp, it goes through a process known as keratinization. The hair cells fill with fibrous proteins and lose their nucleus. By the time the hair reaches the surface, it’s nothing more than a complex system of interwoven protein-rich fibers.

Proteins and Hair

A large portion of your hair is nothing more than protein. Proteins are series of long, connected amino acids known as polypeptides. Polypeptides can form side bonds with one another, leading to the thick strands of hair you recognize. There are three types of bonds that hold hair together. The weakest bonds can be altered with the use of heat and water, thus the ability to style your hair with products like curling irons and flat irons. Other bonds can be altered with permanent chemical treatments such as waves and relaxers.

Now that you know what is the construction of hair, you can use this knowledge to better understand your tresses. Use the knowledge to find ways to treat your hair better, preserving it’s beauty and luster.