All About Hair

All About Hair

Posted By Edge
Hair is one of the most interesting, mysterious, and complex things we have. It's not just a thing on our head that can make us feel confident and beautiful, keeps us warm, and protects us from the elements; it's also an indicator of our health, personality, and even how we feel about ourselves. Not to mention it's probably the first thing people notice when they meet us!

But what is hair? How does it work? How does it affect us? We'll be exploring all these questions in this series of posts, starting with a breakdown of what hair actually is:

Its a protein filament that grows from follicles found in the dermis. It is a major component of our body’s outer layer, which is made up of three layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. Hair provides thermal insulation for the body, and prevents hydration loss and evaporation; it also serves as a sensory organ and as a secondary sexual characteristic in mammals.

The primary function of hair is to provide an evolutionary advantage by increasing the surface area of the skin exposed to sunlight and thus allowing more efficient thermoregulation. Hair also increases drag, which aids in swimming.

The word "hair" usually refers to two distinct structures:

  • The part beneath the skin, called the hair follicle, or, when pulled from the skin, the bulb or root. This organ is located in the dermis and maintains stem cells, which not only re-grow the hair after it falls out but also are recruited to regrow skin after a wound.
  • The shaft is the hard filamentous part that extends above the skin surface.

Structure of Hair

Hair Shaft

Hair fibers/shafts have a structure consisting of several layers, starting from the outside:

CUTICLE: The cuticle is your hair’s protective layer, composed of overlapping cells — like fish scales or roof tiles, but facing downwards. A healthy cuticle is smooth and flat. This gives your hair shine and protects the inner layers from damage. It also minimizes the movement of moisture in and out of the underlying cortex, thus maintaining your hair’s hydration balance and flexibility. However, chemical processes and weathering can lift the cuticle and disrupt this balance, causing your hair to become dry and brittle.

CORTEX: The cortex of the hair shaft is located between the hair cuticle and medulla and is the thickest hair layer. It also contains most of the hair's pigment, giving the hair its color. The pigment in the cortex is melanin, which is also found in the skin.

MELANIN: Its what gives your hair its color. It is made by cells called melanocytes, which are found in the lower layer of your skin (the dermis). In the hair follicle, these cells produce melanin that travels up through the shaft of your hair until it reaches the skin's surface where it can protect you from UV damage. The amount of melanin in your hair determines its color. The more melanin there is, the darker your hair will be.

MEDULLA: The medulla is the innermost layer of the hair shaft. This nearly invisible layer is the softest and most fragile and serves as the pith or marrow of the hair.
Hair Follicle/Root

PAPILLA: A large structure at the base of the hair follicle. The papilla is made up mainly of connective tissue and a capillary loop.

Around the papilla is the HAIR MATRIX. The matrix is the part of the hair follicle where matrix keratinocytes proliferate to form the hair shaft of growing hair. Melanocytes are mixed amongst the matrix cells to provide the hair shaft with color.

A ROOT SHEATH is composed of an EXTERNAL and INTERNAL root sheath. The external root sheath is a tubular cavity of the epidermis which doesn’t take part in hair formation. The internal root sheath is composed of three layers, Henle's layer, Huxley's layer, and an internal cuticle that is continuous with the outermost layer of the hair fiber.

The BULGE is located in the outer root sheath at the insertion point of the arrector pili muscle*. It houses several types of stem cells, which supply the entire hair follicle with new cells and take part in healing the epidermis after a wound.

The ARRECTOR PILI MUSCLES also known as hair erector muscles are small muscles attached to hair follicles in mammals. Contraction of these muscles causes the hairs to stand on end, known colloquially as goose bumps (piloerection).

Hair’s Natural Color

All natural hair colors are the result of two types of hair pigments. Both of these pigments are melanin types, produced inside the hair follicle and packed into granules found in the fibers.

Eumelanin is the dominant pigment in brown hair and black hair, while pheomelanin
is dominant in red hair. Blond hair is the result of having little pigmentation in the hair strand.

Gray hair occurs when melanin production decreases or stops.

Hair’s Classifications

There are various systems that people use to classify their curl patterns. Being knowledgeable of an individual's hair type is a good start to knowing how to take care of one's hair.

Andre Walker System

The Andre Walker Hair Typing System is the most widely used system to classify hair. The system was created by the hairstylist of Oprah Winfrey, Andre Walker. According to this system, there are four types of hair: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky.

Andre Walker Hair Types

         Type 1: Straight
  • Straight (Fine/Thin) - Hair tends to be very soft, thin, shiny, oily, poor at holding curls, difficult to damage.
  • Straight (Medium) - Hair characterized by volume and body.
  • Straight (Coarse) - Hair tends to be bone-straight, coarse, difficult to curl.
         Type 2: Wavy
  • Wavy (Fine/Thin) - Hair has definite "S" pattern, can easily be straightened or curled, usually receptive to a variety of styles.
  • Wavy (Medium) - Can tend to be frizzy and a little resistant to styling.
  • Wavy(Coarse) - Fairly coarse, frizzy or very frizzy with thicker waves, often more resistant to styling.
         Type 3: Curly
  • Curly (Loose) - Presents a definite "S" pattern, tends to combine thickness, volume, and/or frizziness.
  • Curly (Tight) - Presents a definite "S" pattern, curls ranging from spirals to spiral-shaped corkscrew.
         Type 4: Kinky
  • Kinky (Soft) - Hair tends to be very wiry and fragile, tightly coiled and can feature curly patterning.
  • Kinky (Wiry) - As 4a but with less defined pattern of curls, looksa moe like a "Z" with sharp angles.

It is possible, and quite normal to have more than one kind of hair type, for instance having a mixture of both type 3a & 3b curls.

The Importance of Hair
Your hair is important to your overall health and well-being because it is one of the first aspects that others may notice about you. How healthy and vibrant your hair is can tell someone what type of person you are, and how you feel about yourself. Healthy hair is a sign of confidence and allows others to view you in a positive light.  But that's not all. It also has an important function on our body.

  • Hair regulates body temperature - When we are indoors or outdoors in cold weather, our muscles contract and pull the hair upright. This traps the air as insulation to protect us from the cold. This explains why a person who has more hair feels warmer than someone who has little or none at all: in hot temperatures, evaporating sweat cools our skin and muscles relax— causing the hair to lie flat again.
  • Hair extends our sense of touch - It’s amazing how even before an object touches our skin, our hair makes it possible for us to feel something. A study published by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2012 reported how the brain processes and collects information through the hair on the skin. David Ginty, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, says more than 20 classes of mechanosensory nerve cells in the skin detect everything from temperature to pain.
  • Hair protects our bodies from harmful objects - Hair covers almost all of our body except for the palms of our hands, soles of the feet, and lips. Aside from providing cover from the heat of the sun, body hair such as eyebrows, eyelashes, and those found in nostrils help keep dust and foreign matter out.
  • Hair identifies you - Your hair may be a dead giveaway for forensic analysis and paternity testing, but for many, hair is simply the ultimate form of expression.

What damages our hair?
If you're like most people, you probably take your hair for granted. You wash it, brush it, and then forget about it until the next time you need to style or shampoo it. But if you want to keep your hair looking healthy and beautiful, it's important to know some of the things/factors that can damage your locks.

Here are some of the main culprits:

  • Chemicals: Chemical treatments like dyeing and bleaching have been known to cause dryness and breakage in some people's hair. Before getting colored or bleached hair, talk to your stylist about how they'll treat your hair first!
  • Pollution: pollution has been proven to cause premature aging in our skin and hair. When we're constantly exposed to pollution, our body's natural defense mechanisms start to break down. This can lead to dryness and dullness in our hair, as well as skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.
  • Heat: if you're constantly exposed to heat from things like blow dryers or flat irons, this can speed up the process of aging on your hair. Heat also makes your hair more prone to breakage and split ends.

Ingredients to watch out in your hair care products.
It's no secret that most of us don't like the idea of having harmful chemicals on our skin. But what about when we put them in our hair? Unfortunately, many shampoos, conditioners, and other products contain chemicals that can be harmful to your health and the environment. Here's a look at some common chemicals found in hair care products and how they affect your body:

Parabens are used as preservatives in many cosmetic and personal care products, including make-up, moisturizers, hair care products and shaving products.

The problem is, having parabens in products that are designed to be absorbed through your skin isn’t exactly a good thing. It can trigger irritation and allergic reactions in the skin, especially to sensitive, damaged, or broken skin. It can be especially inflammatory to those with pre-existing conditions of psoriasis, eczema, or a pattern of contact dermatitis. It can also  cause a number of problems for your hair including drying, irritating your scalp, fading your color, and even hair loss.

They are generally used at concentrations of 0.5% or less but since they are generally unsafe, it is best to avoid parabens until proven otherwise

Studies about this Ingredient:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Sulfates can leave the hair dry and unhealthy, causing your hair to lose the moisture it needs. It can also dry the scalp and cause irritation. The safety assessment study of SLS found that it was not harmful when used briefly and then rinsed from the skin, as with shampoos or soaps, and should not exceed 1 percent concentration of SLS.

Though it is an irritant, it's not a carcinogen. The risks are minimal when these products are used correctly—that is, in short applications that get rinsed off right away.

Estimates for non-prescription drugs range from 0.106 to 0.21 mg/kg bw for adults and from 0.035 to 0.14 mg/kg bw for children. The ranges provided correspond to taking one capsule/tablet a day to the maximum recommended daily dose.

Studies about this Ingredient:

Phthalates are found in a wide range of cosmetics and personal care products, including nail polishes, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, cleansers and shampoos. However, some phthalates have been linked to adverse health effects, such as hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity, and developmental toxicity.

The most commonly used phthalates in cosmetics are:

  • dimethylphthalate (DMP), used in hair sprays (which form a flexible film on the hair to help avoid stiffness).
  • diethylphthalate (DEP), used as a solvent and preservative in perfumes.
  • dibutylphthalate (DBP), to make nail polishes more flexible and less likely to crack

Must not contain more than 1 000 mg/kg of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) when tested in accordance with a method that conforms to good laboratory practices.

Studies about this Ingredient:


Some consumers buy "alcohol-free" hair care or skin products, believing that alcohol dries out their scalps or faces.

In cosmetic labeling, the term alcohol used by itself refers to ethyl alcohol. But those Alcohol-free products may still contain other alcohol such as cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl, or lanolin alcohol. These are known as fatty alcohols, and their effects on the skin are quite different from those of ethyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol, which some consumers may think of as drying the skin, is rarely used in cosmetics. Fatty alcohol is categorized as a "good" alcohol and is obtained plant fatty acids. They are non-toxic, well tolerated by the skin and biodegradable.

Studies about this Ingredient:

Triclosan (also known as Antimicrobials)
Triclosan is used in cosmetics as a preservative to prevent or slow down microbial growth and protect products from spoilage. This ingredient is also used in over-the-counter drugs and other consumer products.

Health Canada considers triclosan to be safe when used in cosmetics at a concentration of up to 0.03% in mouthwashes and 0.3% in other cosmetic products like soaps.

Studies about this Ingredient:

How Heat and Pollution Could Be Stressing Your Hair.

Large suspended particles, small airborne particles, smoke, and gaseous pollution reach the scalp and hair, causing irritation and damage. With pollution increasing in modern life, cases are becoming more pronounced and serious.

These pollutants can lead to excess sebum in the scalp which produces hair follicles to become clogged and may even stunt hair growth. Air pollutants bring out frizz and dryness while being exposed to UV rays can cause discoloration, and brittleness, and can damage the cuticle producing split ends.

Hair loss caused by contamination is related to nano-particles suspended in the air, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (highly present in the smoke from car exhaust, asphalt, industrial smoke, etc.). Both will damage the hair by inducing oxidative stress in the follicular units.

How Water Pollution Could Affect Your Hair (or Skin).
If you’ve taken a shower at a place other than your house, maybe a hotel, or a friend’s house, you may notice that your hair feels different. Common water contaminants can affect your hair’s look, feel, and general health.

Hard water means water containing high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium.

In some places, the water that comes directly to the homes of people, contains a number of minerals and oxidizers. A little bit of it is okay and natural, but when the percentage of these minerals and oxidizers rise, they begin to harm the hair and the scalp.  Hard water affects the hair in many ways, including:

  • DrynessHard water dries out your hair. After showering in hard water, your hair gets a rough feeling instead of being shiny and smooth. Furthermore, hard water dries out the scalp, increasing the amount of dandruff in the hair.
  • Mineral DepositsHard water deposits minerals in your hair, making it look like dandruff. When you shower with hard water, it can leave traces of hardness minerals in your hair, giving you an appearance of dandruff.
  • Hair LostHard water can cause possible hair loss. For some people, the minerals in hard water clog their hair follicles after they shower. Therefore, their hair breaks off easily at the base, causing hair loss, especially for people prone to hair loss.
  • Dirty HairHard water prevents your hair from properly cleaning because it does not lather well with soaps and shampoos like hard water. Therefore, showering with hard water can reduce the effects of your hair cleaning and moisturizing products, preventing your hair from being as clean and healthy as you want.

Safe limit to use Pollutant Water
  • pH scale ranges between 0 and 14, whereas PH level 7 is considered to be a neutral pH. Acidic pH is below 7 while anything above 7 is alkaline or basic.
  • The hair has a pH of 4.5 to 5. Hard water’s pH can be 8.5 or more without considering the pH levels of your shampoo, conditioner, and other products in your hair regimen.
  • Hair pH greater than 10 causes the fibers to swell, causing irreversible damage.

When addressing a hard water problem, the first thing to do is get an in-home water test (use ph test strips). The test helps to check the actual level of hardness-causing minerals in your water.

You mustn’t take the effects of hard water on your hair and skin lightly. Having proper knowledge of the issue can help you take the right steps towards softening the water in your home.


Why do we need to take care of our hair?

The answer is simple: because it's an important part of what makes us human.

There are a lot of reasons why you should take care of your hair. You might think that it's just a matter of looking good and feeling confident, but the reality is that your hair is an extension of your health.

You don't have to be a scientist to know that the quality of your hair reflects the quality of your health. And when you think about it, that makes sense—since hair is made up mostly of protein, it's basically a reflection of your diet and how well you're taking care of yourself.

So remember: taking care of our hair isn't just about vanity—it's about maintaining our overall wellness!

At Eternal Skin Care, we believe that everyone has a place in our community.
We are committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We believe that everyone deserves to feel safe and welcome in their community, and we're happy to share these products with the world knowing that they can be enjoyed by all kinds of people.

We have a wide range and variety of products available, all designed for different needs and also to make you feel great.

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