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Hair Structure Part 2

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Jeni Giles

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Hair is more than just a pile of amino acids. The fibers of our hair are our crowning glory. Each individual strand has a structure and life of its own. The professional stylist learns everything possible about the intricacies of the strand...

There are 3 basic stages hair grows through. The anagen stage, active growing -depending on the source, can last between 2 and 10 years with a rate of 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month- this is the stage most of us notice and are concerned with.

The Catagen stage, root sheath begins to loosen, hair is being readied to shed, another hair is beginning to form deep below the skin to help push the Anagen hair out.

Telogen Stage- resting. The root sheath that holds the hair into the follicle has completely loosened and is no longer attached. The hair is just waiting for the opportunity to fall out or be shed. A shower, brushing your hair or combing your fingers through may be enough to pull out this hair and make way for the new hair waiting to emerge.

Luckily for us, all three stages are happening simultaneously, but at different times. Approximately 80% of our hair is in the anagen stage, while the other 20% is either getting ready to shed or is being shed. Again depending on the source the average human should lose between 40-120 hairs per day. The average loss begins to increase with age and most people who are "mature" will lose between 80-150 hairs per day.

Mature clients usually note that their hair is thinning. Female clients lose the same amount of hair as male clients, the difference being the location of loss. Women lose hair through the entire head, men generally lose it on top.

Aging hair follicles no longer have the same ability to produce strong, healthy fibers and as we age our hair fibers become thinner and finer. Non-pigmented hair or Grey hair may appear coarser or react differently because they have developed a medulla-hollow center or pith found in the hair fiber, has no known function or reason- a medulla while not changing the diameter of the hair, does make the hair more stiff or wiry feeling.

Curly hair has more sulfur cross links and is more difficult to manage. As curly hair becomes non-pigmented it can become more unruly and untamable. It feels coarser but in reality it is just stiffer. (just what we needed, stiff curly fuzz!!!ARG!) Curly hair also lacks moisture. Because of the structure and the twists, bends and dips in the outer layer or cuticle, moisture easily escapes and we exacerbate the situation by forcing our curls and waves straight with heat and chemicals. Curly hair can be fine, average or coarse- blame your genes there!!

Fine hair has more cuticle or protective covering that average or coarse hair. It tends to behave like the cuticle, resistant to change, lacking body, not holding curl. It's kind of like trying to curl a crab leg, or keep kids from touching things in a toy store, not really effective. Thankfully professional styling products are available that have been developed SPECIFICALLY for fine hair.

Average hair is just that, average. Usually easy to manage, easy to care for and does what we want it to. It behaves, unlike small children in a toy store.

Coarse hair- large diameter, the hard outer covering is stretched because the cortex or center- main structure- is so large. This hair when you take the time to curl, either permanently or with a curling iron holds a curl very well. Kids in a toy shop again, with bribery, they don't touch. It will behave if forced and when forced generally stays.

I feel like I've about beat the poor OTC products to death, I would prefer a peaceful resting place for them. Professional stylists perform chemical services on our hair to make our hair the color or texture we want it to be. When we start using chemicals, the internal structure is well...chemically and permanently changed. Usually this is done in a controlled fashion and with appropriate support products or chemicals to get the job done.

Stay tuned for Hair Structure Part 3-I'll delve into the murky waters of how products affect the hair. Happy Hair Geeking!!
 

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