How much do you know about your hair structure?
You might know how to style it.
You might know how to keep it strong and healthy.
But do you know what it’s made of?
Join us as we take a closer look.
What are the building blocks of your hair?
We’ve all seen hair in different textures and colours, but its building blocks remain the same from one person to another.
Hair is made of keratin, a strong protein also found in your skin and nails.
The keratin in your hair is a large molecule consisting of smaller ones (known as amino acids) connected together in a tight chain.
Said amino acids enter your body from food-based proteins, so it’s important to eat the right foods to keep your hair healthy.
Add more spinach, nuts, berries, seeds, avocados, and eggs to your diet. Aim to include the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
What are hair roots and follicles?
Every hair on your head grows out of the epidermis (the skin’s outermost layer) and comprises two core parts: the follicle and the shaft.
And each of these has its own building blocks, too.
Hair follicles are located underneath the skin, and are responsible for sprouting new strands of hair.
The most important part is the hair bulb, which is created by actively growing stem cells that spawn the hair fibres (or shafts).
Round hair fibres create straight hair, while oval or similarly shaped fibres lead to curly and wavy hair.
Nutrients essential for healthy hair growth travel to the bulbs through the bloodstream, via vessels within your scalp.
Another key part of the hair follicle is the sebaceous gland, producing sebum (oil) that moisturises the scalp and hair.
An overactive sebaceous gland can contribute to greasy hair and skin.
Special cells (melanocytes) within the hair bulb develop the pigment (melanin) which imbues hair with colour.
What are hair shafts?
Hair shafts are those parts of the hair that grow beyond the skin — basically, the hair you can see on your scalp today.
These are made up of three elements:
The cuticle is the colourless outer layer of hair, featuring cells like scales which overlap.
They defend the hair against damage, keeping the inner structure safe as well as controlling hair fibre’s water content (a single molecular layer helps the hair to repel water).
The cuticle is also responsible for creating shine.
The cortex is the hair’s middle layer, giving shafts their colour, texture, and resilience.
The shape of your hair follicles affects the cortex shape.
Two melanin types lie within the cortex: eumelanin and pheomelanin.
Eumelanin’s job is to create black and brown colouring for hair, while pheomelanin is responsible for red, blonde, and auburn tones.
Hair turns grey because of a lack of melanin pigment within the cortex.
The medulla is the shaft’s innermost part, but only in thick or coarse hairs.
Generally, a medulla is missing from hair that’s naturally fine and/or blonde. It’s structured like a honeycomb, containing citrulline (amino acid) and glycogen (sugar).
Taking care of your hair
As you can see, your hair is the result of a complex, fascinating natural process.
But a number of factors can cause it to shed from the scalp over time, leading to areas of thinning or baldness.
Genetics, stress, illness, medication, poor diet, and more may be to blame.
But the latest hair transplant surgery can help to restore hair growth with natural, lasting results, without visible scars.
Want to book a consultation with a hair transplant expert near you?
The hair structure of every shaft contains two or three layers. These are the cuticle (the outermost section), the cortex, and (when three layers apply) the medulla.
The medulla’s structure is usually described as being trace or fragmentary, broken or discontinuous, or simply continuous. But it’s not always present in the hair.
The hair shaft’s cortex contains the majority of the hair’s melanin, which gives hair its pigment or colour. It’s also found in skin. The cortex is located between the medulla and the cuticle, and is the thickest layer in human hair structure.
The cuticle contains flattened cells which overlap like a terracotta roof’s tiles. As the outermost layer, the cuticle defends a hair shaft’s insides from harm.