December 18, 2007

Struc---Tures of The HAIR


Quick course on Hair Structure
Yep, this is boring. It seems every post I toy with the idea of leaving it out….why? I worry you will be screaming at your screen, “when is she going to get to the more interesting stuff” ! Then I remind myself… there was a time I found all of this fascinating and I couldn’t get enough, I will assume that is where you are from now on and keep trucking along.
Below the surface of the skin…………..the hair is called the HAIR ROOT --- Above is the HAIR SHAFT. So the part of the hair that you… color…you brush…you shampoo…you tease… you straighten is called the HAIR SHAFT. The part of the hair that is below the skin that we cannot see or touch is the HAIR ROOT.



The structures of the HAIR ROOT are the FOLLICLE, HAIR BULB, and PAPILLA.


The HAIR ROOT is housed in a sheath called a FOLLICLE which you can see here in the diagram. At the bottom of the follicle, buried deep in the skin, is the HAIR BULB. The cells that become a strand of hair are produced in the HAIR BULB, the living part of hair, from which the hair grows. How many people do you hear say “your hair is dead”??...well that is not (scientifically) the truth. Where one hair grows and dies….another one comes in its place. Therefore,I would not call that dead. That theory is just a matter of tearing the words, and what happens with each hair, apart. They say that because a hair does not “feel”: you can bend, smash, curl and flat iron a hair and it doesn’t hurt, but it “does grow” doesn’t it? I would call that “ALIVE”. When I went on a mission to solve the terrible problem we have in women’s hair thinning and loss, I studied exactly that, ‘where’ the new hair was formed and ‘how’ it was formed. Proudly, I can say that I have that issue solved in a whopping 84% of the women that follow my 12 step program.


At the base of the bulb, nourishing it is the PAPILLA…a mound of tissue with capillaries running through it. The papilla contains the blood and nerve supply that provides the nutrients needed for hair growth.


The Structures of the HAIR SHAFT are the CUTICLE, CORTEX, and MEDULLA.



The Cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair. It consists of a single overlapping layer of transparent scale-like cells that overlap like shingles on a roof. *****A healthy compact cuticle layer is the hair’s primary defense against damage. Remember this fact, this will come in necessary when trying to figure out why your hair or a clients hair is in bad condition. I use a microscope to look at my clients cuticle, that tells me whether their damage is deeper within or just on the surface and in the cuticle. Knowing that piece of information leads me to the type of conditioner I need to use to ressurect their hair condition. {There are very few conditioners that actually address what they claim to ‘in print’ on the packaging, I hate to blow your hopes & dreams. }



A healthy cuticle layer protects the hair from penetration and prevents damage to hair fibers. Oxidation haircolors, permanent waving solutions, and chemical hair relaxers must have alkaline pH in order to penetrate the cuticle layer and reach their target within the cortex. Those 3 solutions goal is changing the make-up of the hair as it is now …to a complete new one….Perms are changing the hair from straight to curly, Relaxers are doing the opposite, Oxidation haircolors are permanently changing the color of the hair from its original to a new one. In order to perform such a major change the change must reach the CORTEX of the hair.


The CORTEX is the middle layer of the hair. It is a fibrous protein core formed by cells containing MELANIN pigment. About 90% of the total weight of the hair comes from the cortex. The elasticity of the hair and its natural color are the result of the unique protein structures within the CORTEX.


The MEDULLA is the innermost layer composed of round cells. It is quite common for very fine & naturally blonde hair to entirely lack a MEDULLA, generally only thick coarse hair contains one. Men’s beard hair contains a Medulla, as far as Cosmetology…the MEDULLA is not involved in any of the treatments we deal with.
You will find the structure helpful as you move into more knowledge of hair coloring as well. Just let it absorb into your brain.....and allow your brain and body to become hair "brilliant" !



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