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Hair Anatomy : What is It Made Out of & How Does it Grow?

Human hair is a simple thing made up of keratin and dead skin cells. Its function is to prevent heat loss from a person’s head, yet its loss causes women to weep and men spend billions to get it back. Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear - ‘The Hair Story”? Read on…

You know me, don’t you? I am your hair.

I am in your genes and genetically or biologically programmed to grow, right from the time you arrived in your mother’s womb. I continue to grow all through your life.

Like a child, I need to be loved and cared for. But unlike a child, pampering does not spoil me. In fact, I flourish and thrive on attention. The more you look after me, the better I grow. When you neglect me and resort to quick-fixes to make me look better, because you are in a hurry, you impact my growth and endanger my life. I may even stop growing; sometimes, permanently.

Your overdependence on chemical, often toxic hair products and cosmetic salon treatments, where I am coloured, dried, crimped, ironed, burnt, pulled, twisted and sprayed, is detrimental to my well-being.

In my interest, please stay away from —

  • Shampoos that are made up of chemical ingredients. Choose shampoo made up of natural active ingredients that are safer for your scalp and my growth (Tips To Choose The Right Shampoo For Hair Fall Control)
  • Untested and strong cosmetic products
  • ‘Hot’ blow dryers close to the head
  • Excessive exposure to the sun and the wind
  • Parlour treatments like perming, bleaching, highlights and hot oil treatments
  • Poor nutrition. I am what you eat! (Get the right hair diet: TOP 10 FOODS TO PREVENT HAIR LOSS)

I can last for all your life, provided I have the right conditions. Besides your physical health, I need your emotional well-being. I cannot bear high levels of stress (Stress induced Hair Loss).

Like you, I too need to eat to survive. I absorb nutrition from the food you eat from the blood vessels located under your scalp or skin. I grow in three phases – anagen, catagen and telogen. I grow about half-inch per month during the anagen (growing) phase, typically ranging from 3-7 years.

Following the anagen phase, I stop growing; in fact, I start to rest. This is called the catagen (regression) phase. This lasts about 2-3 weeks.

After I’ve stopped resting, I move into the telogen (falling) phase. This lasts for about 3-4 months. During the telogen phase, I appear inactive and I also shed or fall. You will find strands of me on your pillow, bed, clothing, comb and brush, or simply going down the sink when you bathe or shampoo.

This is normal — ‘ringing out the old and ringing in the new.’

At the end of the telogen phase, I once more enter the anagen phase and begin to grow back to normal size. This is the pattern of my life.

I can be coarse or fine. The thickness on your head is relative to the thickness of my shaft. When I have a coarsely thick shaft, for example, I have more bulk and body than when I am thin and fine.

I come in three colours — black, brown and blonde. My colour is determined by the pigments (melanin) that I am endowed with. These pigments reflect certain wavelengths of visible light. There are two primary pigments in my strand. The dark-pigmented eumelanin is what imbues my brown or black shade. The higher its concentration, the darker I appear. The lower its concentration, the lighter I appear. Pheomelanin imparts the blonde or reddish colour. The size, amount and distribution of melanin in my body determine my colour. When I am bereft of melanin, I turn grey or white.

I am easy to understand and easy to look after. Treat me well and I will remain with you forever — as your crowning glory, or essential part of your good looks.

Also Read: Top 10 Tips To Prevent Hair Loss

Also Read: Advantages of using homeopathic medicines for hair loss

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