Inquiring Minds Want to Know: What Is Hair Made Of?

Allison Schmidt | 14 November 2018
what is hair made of

A mini lesson that’s all about the structure of your hair!

What is hair made of? A lot of us may be curious about its composition and why it looks, feels and behaves differently from person to person.

To better understand the properties of hair and its ins and outs, we’re offering a quick mini-lesson below—we are called All Things Hair after all, and it behooves us to keep you guys informed on your crowning glories from the inside out. Read on to find out more:

What Is Hair Made Of?

what is hair made of
Curious what makes hair, hair?

1. Keratin

According to Unilever’s Leon-van Gorkom, “Keratin filament proteins are found in all outer layers of human skin (stratum corneum) to protect the underlying cells. It is also found in hair and nails. However, nails also contain different keratin filament proteins for extra hardness and strength.”

2. Structure

Your hair starts in your scalp, no news there. The strand is held in place by the bulb inside of the follicle (the ball-shaped ‘tag’ you can sometimes see on the end of a strand). Each individual shaft comes out of a follicle.

So, what is hair made of? The shaft itself has three parts. The outside of each hair is called the cuticle. It works as the armor to protect the inner core of the strand. The middle section of the strand is the cortex. This section holds the pigment that gives your mane it’s natural color and it also is the part that physically curves to give your hair it’s natural texture. The innermost core is the medulla, although not everyone’s hair has this. People with thick hair tend to have medulla and those with thin hair may not.

3. Growth

Growth starts from the papilla in the root bulb. According to Gorkom, “it grows from the button up and pushing up the hair through the follicle.” There are blood vessels that surround the root and feed it so the root can create more cells. The cells then divide to add to the strand which causes it to grow.

4. Keratin Loss

When your locks get severely damaged due to using heat, chemical treatments and even mechanical (brush/combing etc.), the outer cuticle will deteriorate. The interlocking layers that shield the inner core of the hair open and tear causing protein to be lost from the cortex. Gorkom stated, “this makes it weaker on the inside, but the loss of cuticles (also protein) leaves the hair rough and dull.” To protect your hair from damage always be sure to use a heat protectant, like TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spraybefore blowdrying or heat styling your hair.


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