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Basics of Hair and Hair Care


Understanding Hair Growth

Hair is a fibre produced from a hair follicle. The first hair follicles are formed during foetal development and no new hair follicles are made after birth. Hair follicles do not produce hair continuously but go through three phases: the growth phase, the transition phase, and the resting phase. Once entering its growth cycle, scalp hair follicles will produce hair for a period of 2 - 6 years enabling hair lengths of up to many feet. The follicle then makes the transition to the resting phase, and ceases to make hair. A resting hair will never grow any further, and will remain in the follicle for several months until it is shed. Then the next hair cycle begins again with a new hair entering the growth phase in the same follicle.

Hair Thickness

Several factors determine whether scalp hair appears to be profuse or thin: the rate of hair growth; the duration of the resting phase; the thickness of each individual hair itself; and the percentage of hair follicles in the growth stage at any given time. Often when excessive hair-loss starts to occur, the follicles have not suddenly stopped producing hair, but rather the cycles of growth and the rest are shortened and the dormant stage extended.

Hair Loss

The old hairs are normally shed at a rate of between 50 and 100 per day, from a healthy head of hair. While this cyclical pattern of growth dictates that everyone normally experiences some hair-loss every day, losing more hairs daily can be considered to be excessive. Hair-loss can be caused by many factors, including but not limited to: vitamin, mineral and protein deficiency, hormonal imbalance; stress; use of certain drugs; radiation, including chemotherapy.


The hair fibre has three major compartments: the outermost is the cuticle, the main portion of the fibre is the cortex, and the middle of the fibre is the medulla, which may be prominent, intermittent, or absent. Shades of hair colour may be influenced by how light bounces off these compartments but basically depends upon pigment contained within the hair cortex. Eumelanin is the pigment found in brown or black hair and pheomelanin is in blonde or red hair. When pigment is significantly diminished, the hair appears grey and when it is absent, the hair is white.

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