Hair is made of strong elastic strands of protein called keratin. The sources of hair are very small tiny pockets in our skin and scalp known as follicles. These follicles are found together in groups of two to five each. Every follicle follows a life cycle of its own producing about six inches of hair a year for as long as four years before it falls out and then starts all over again after a short period.
The basal tip of the hair in the scalp is known as papilla which is a small out-growth of the skin shaped like a doorknob and lying at the tip of the follicle. The papilla contains the blood vessels to supply nourishment to the hair. During the active period the new cell growth pushes the older part of the hair away from the papilla until the hair falls out. It is the pattern of cell growth at the papilla which determines whether hair grow straight, wavy or curly. The growth pattern usually becomes uneven during the adolescence when the hair growth is at its peak. It declines as we grow older. Though hair strands look as singular fibres, each hair is constructed in three different layers: the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla.
Since ages, human hair is considered to be the epitome of beauty. However, there are more functions than the just looks: Hair provides the most efficient means of protecting its immediate surface. The head is the closest to the radiation of the sun and experiences most of the bumps and falls of childhood to early teenage years.
The thousands of strands of hair act as shields; prevents germs, bacteria, insects and other undesirable microbes from directly invading the scalp.
One of the main channels of temperature change in the body is the head itself. Heat escapes easily through the head. With a full head of hair, the process of heat escape is retarded or gradually slowed down during cold winter months. Conversely during summer, hair acts like a roof over the head and keeps it cool.
For some people, grey hair is a distinguishing characteristic; for others, it is a reminder that they are getting older. Some people start to go grey young - as early as their teens. This condition is called premature greying of hair.
The average person loses about 100 hairs each day. Losing excess hair can be a normal part of growing older, but if it falls at a very young age, then it’s a problem; and the most common of the hair loss in males is the male pattern baldness.
Split ends and dry hair are just two of the possible outcomes of over-styling.
Hair needs moisture and a certain amount of oil to keep it looking healthy. However, nowadays it is ‘in fashion’ thing not to oil the hair.
The scalp contains natural oil called sebum, which helps keep the skin lubricated. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands. Sometimes these glands work overtime and produce too much oil, leading to a condition called seborrhoea or greasy scalp. Greasy hair can look dull, limp and lifeless and it may be more difficult to manage.