Hairy Stuff

March 12, 2010 at 4:29 PM (1, Hair advice)

Hair comes in diverse textures – from Kinky to Curly to Wavy to Straight.

Whatever type of hair you have, it needs TLC so as to stay healthy and luscious always. Healthy, great looking hair on people especially women exudes confidence and security in ones appearance. When people look great, they feel that they are on top of the world.


For healthy looking hair, you have to know your hair type, texture, strengths and weaknesses, what stresses it and what it can and cannot do. Knowing the true nature, structure and how to care for your hair, the healthier it will become.

Hair is made of a chemical substance called Keratin. This Sulphur-rich protein provides strength to the hair so it can withstand any treatment – Good or Bad.  The part of the hair that grows out of the scalp is called the Hair Shaft or Strand. Each Strand of hair emerges from a tube-like pit in the skin called Follicle. At the base of the Follicle is Papilla, this is hair’s source of blood, oxygen, other nutrients and new cells. As the cells in the papilla multiply to become an individual hair, they arrange themselves into three separate layers: the CUTICLE, the CORTEX, and the MEDULLA.

So what’s in a single strand of hair?

  • Cortex – the core of the hair shaft responsible for shape and elasticity.
  • Cuticle – the outer layers of the cortex which give hair its sheen.
  • Medulla – the hair’s innermost portion; it’s a small core of cells that run the length of the hair shaft.
  • Keratin – a special protein that gives hair its strength.
  • Melanin – a pigment that determines the color of hair.
  • Sebum – Natural oil released onto the scalp which is produced by the sebaceous glands.

We have at least two differing textures of hair on our head, this is common. Texture in the front differs slightly from the textures at the nape and crown; hence some sections of our hair are easier to manage and some respond more quickly to chemicals which can make them more prone to damage.


Your hair type is determined by the diameter of the strands and belongs to one of the three categories: FINE, MEDIUM AND COARSE

QUICK TEST: examine the diameter of your individual strands. If the strands look wispy and thin, you have fine hair. If they are medium or thick in diameter, your hair is medium or coarse.


Porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb moisture. Black hair especially needs moisture to maintain its health. As a rule, fine strands tend to be more porous, while coarse hair is usually not. The more porous your hair, the faster it absorbs chemicals – so you will need short processing time for relaxers and colours but for medium and coarse hair, it takes longer to process chemicals.

QUICK TEST : Separate a small section of hair at the front and back comb the strands as you do when teasing hair. If the hair bunches up immediately, it is very porous and damaged. If the hair bunches up a little or not at all, it is less porous and healthy.


Elasticity refers to the hair’s ability to stretch and return to its original length without breaking.  Healthy hair should be able to stretch about one- fifth of its length when dry and one-half of its length when wet.

QUICK TEST:  Select a hair strand and hold it between the index fingers and thumbs of both hands. Gently pull the strand. If it stretches easily and returns to its original length, you have got good elasticity. If the strand breaks and doesn’t return, then your hair needs lots more TLC. Poor elasticity is an indication of chemical damage and you may be overusing heated appliances, relaxers or colouring.


There are three stages in the life cycle of each hair on our body. A hair is born, matures and dies. The first stage is called ANAGEN phase, about four to six years. About 80 to 90 percent of the hair on your scalp is in this stage.   The second stage is called CATAGEN phase. Hair ceases to grow or “rests” for about two to three weeks. Then transitions into the final stage called the TELOGEN phase, where it sheds naturally (Not breaking), we lose 50 to 100 hairs per day.

We will talk about CURLY HAIR and how to care for it in our next issue.


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