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Hair Structure

Hair is a precious beauty asset which deserves good care. It is the body’s natural fashion accessory and can be colored, styled, curled, cut etc. It is an inseparable part of the face and adds to your good looks. Well maintained hair enhances your personality and is the most important indicator of beauty and good health. Hair is composed of a protein called keratin and is arranged in three layers—outer cuticle, middle cortex and central medulla. Every one’s hair is different varying from person to person in terms of color, texture, body and volume.

Basics of hair structure:

Hair grows from an indentation or pocket in the skin called follicle. The walls of the follicle form the root sheath of the hair. The lower pat of the follicle expands to form the hair bulb containing the main source of hair growth. At the bottom of the follicle is the papilla which has a network of capillaries which are blood vessels that supply oxygen, energy and the amino acids required for growth. The papilla is continuously producing cells which are pushed up and out of the follicle transforming into hard keratin or hair. Melanocytes or the pigment producing granules are concentrated in the upper part of the papilla and are present throughout the cortex.

The different layers in which the hair is divided in the follicle are:

Henles layer- It is a one cell layer lying towards the outer root sheath.

Huxley’s layer- This comprises of two or three cells that are located in the middle of the sheath. The cuticle of this layer interlocks with the hair cuticle.

Cycle of hair growth:

Each follicle of hair undergoes the cycle of activity continuously. Hair grows to its maximum length following which the growth stops and the hair is shed and replaced. There is only 85 percent of hair on our head at one time. There are three phases of the growth cycle of hair which is an important component of hair structure:

  • Anagen
  • Catagen
  • Telogen

Anagen phase: This is also known as the growth phase of hair. About 85 percent of all hairs are in this phase at any one time. This phase varies from 2-6 years. Hair grows at approximately the rate of ten centimeter per year and does not exceed the length of 1 meter.

Catagen phase: This is also known as the transitional phase and marks the end of the anagen phase. This lasts for about 1-2 weeks during which the hair follicle contracts to about one-sixth of its normal length. The lower part of the follicle is destroyed and the papilla breaks free. An average of one percent of the follicle is in the catagen phase at any point of time.

Telogen phase: This is also known as the resting phase and lasts for about 5-6 weeks, at this time there is no hair growth but the hair stays attached to the follicle and no activity takes place in the dermal papilla. About ten to fifteen percent of all hairs are in this phase at one point.

Following the Telogen phase the cycle returns to the Anagen phase and the root germ begins to grow forming a new bulb around the papilla leading to the growth of new hair. The upper part of the germ forms the new cells that are known to increase the length of the follicle underneath the club hair. The new hair pushes the old hair outwards. The average daily loss of hair in an individual is between 60 to 100 hairs. The loss of more then 100 hairs on a daily basis leads to baldness. Extra hair is shed in autumn and spring but there is less hair loss during the summers.

It is important to know the hair structure in order to facilitate the growth of healthy hair. Dry, brittle or damaged hair makes you look dull, whereas healthy hair makes you look good. It is important for you to know the various phases of hair growth in order to take the right kind of diet and right supplement to initiate the growth of a strong, lustrous mane.

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