Hair 101: What is Hair and Why Do We Have It?

Have you ever considered the history of hair? Not only does your own hair have a history but also hair in general has a past that is worth knowing. Hair has been around since the beginning of time and it has served many purposes. Below are a few commonly asked questions about the origins and purposes of hair. In order to appreciate and respect the hair that is growing on your head, it is important to know why it is there in the first place.

What is hair? Anastasia Nam, master hair stylist, observes that your hair is comprised of the same type of cells as your skin and nails. However, the hair on your head is thicker and hardier. There are somewhere between two and three layers that make-up your hair. The first layer is the cuticle layer, which is composed of small structures that dictate whether your hair is smooth and shiny. When the cuticle layer is damaged, your hair will look dull and lifeless. Underneath the cuticle layer is the cortex layer. This layer determines whether you will have curly or straight hair as well as the color of your hair. The last layer, which people with thin hair usually don’t have, is called the medulla layer. This is the layer that gives your hair its fullness.

Why do we have hair on our head? Hair serves many functions. Dr. Perry, research professor at Baylor College of Medicine, says that one of primary reason why humans still have hair is because of scent. Our hair retains a particular chemical make-up that is unique. The scent that radiates from our hair is one of the ways that we attract a mate. Another reason why we have hair is to retain body heat during the cold, winter months. Despite these biological reasons for hair, humans have used hair, especially the hair on our heads, as a powerful fashion statement to define who we are as a person and as an individual.

How Does Hair Grow?

Cristen Conger, contributing writer for Discovery News, describes the three-stage cycle that hair undergoes while it grows. At any given time, each and every hair is operating at a unique phase in one of the cycles. When a strand of hair completes the cycle, a new hair begins to grow. During the anagen phase, the cells divide to produce new hair fibers. The hair follicle plants itself into the skin in order to provide it with the appropriate nutrients to keep it alive. Since the anagen phase can last up to 8 years, the vast majority of hair on a person’s head is in the anagen phase.

During the catagen phase, which lasts approximately two weeks, the follicle becomes smaller and the papilla is removed. The hair shaft is removed from the nutrient supply that kept it alive. Since the hair follicle is so much smaller than its original size, the hair shaft is pushed upward.

The last part of the cycle, the telogen phase, will last anywhere from one to five months. At this point, the hair is pushed out and replaced by a newly growing strand. The process then immediately starts over, with the hair returning once again to the anagen phase.

Hair Loss & Self-Esteem

Everyone deserves a great looking head of hair.If your self-esteem is suffering because of your hair loss then there is no better way to make you feel better and getting to the root of the problem. A hair loss professional is trained to do just that and they can advise you in all the treatments available to you so you can keep the hair you have and if you have severe hair loss they can offer solutions to restore your hair and thereby restoring your confidence.