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HAIRDRESSING 101: UNDERSTANDING YOUR HAIR

As human beings, we have hair all over our bodies which are fine and flesh-colored, making it difficult to see with the naked eye. Scalp hairs however, are thicker and darker colored, and are called secondary or terminal hair.
Hair grows from a tiny pit in the skin called a follicle. The angle at which follicles lie, and their distribution pattern on the scalp produces the natural direction of the hair growth. This natural wave pattern and color of the hair, is inherited from our parents. Hair grows at about 0.5inch, or 1.25cm per month, and this growth is the result of cell division taking place down in the hair bulb. On the average, a whole head contains about 100,000 hairs; any one of these will have a lifespan of one to six years.

The hairs that grow on the scalp vary in length, thickness, straightness and color, depending on ethnic race and sex. Growth fluctuates with the seasons; with more growth in warm than in cold weather. Also hair grows a little faster when it is new, and slows down when it is getting old, towards the end of its growth phase. So, as you age, the rate of growth slows, especially coupled with the fact that each hair has its own genetic program. Hence, comparing the rate of your shedding hair with your friend’s or members of your family is a waste of time.

Now, even though we have sebaceous glands secreting sebum to supply a protective oily coating to the scalp, as we grow older, this secretion reduces in quantity until both skin and hair start to become noticeably drier.

Finally, finer hair means more hair shafts will be present in a given area; blond hair being the finest, averages about 140,000 hairs per scalp. This is followed by black hair averaging about 110,000 hairs per scalp. The ethnic group with the fewest hairs per scalp is the redhead, averaging about 90,000 per scalp.

QUESTION and ANSWER:
HAIR SHEDDING and AGE

Please NOTE: Hair does NOT grow forever; it is rare to see it grow to its longest possible length, which can be as much as 36inches among Caucasians. Hair is shed and re-grown constantly, with the lifespan of a single hair averaging from 6 months to several years. It is important to know that it is natural to lose hair daily, sometimes up to about 100 hairs, for as long as cells are active in the follicle and follicles continue to thrive to enable the continuing process of hair production. All shed hairs are eventually replaced in about three and a half years, depending of course, on your ethnic group.

If your follicles are undamaged, they go into a resting phase, lasting about 3 months. So, often, you are UNABLE to see growth immediately. And even when the hair has been replaced, it may seem thinner, with the hairline looking empty. This does not mean that you have fewer hairs; it is just that the diameter of each hair decreases with age, thereby leaving replacement hair looking less “full”. Thinned hair therefore, is not the same as “volume-reduced-hair”.

When the diameter of a hair shrinks, the hair stops growing as long as it could ordinarily grow to. Shorter hairs do not add as much density to the overall volume of hair, so hair looks thinner. Many ladies will see these shorter replacement hairs, will know that they are new growth, but can’t understand why the hairs won’t/don’t grow longer. Then they conclude that their hair is not growing at all, but this is not true.

Certain medical conditions can substantially increase shedding rate in women. These are:
1.   Fever
2.   Pregnancy
3.   Anemia
4.   Dysfunctional thyroid
5.   Other severe infections.
So, it is just NOT possible for you to comb your hair and not see any hair come off on the comb, no matter how well you are treating your hair. It is a natural process of evolution; old hair must “slide” out of the follicles, before new hair can appear. Thus, if your hair appears thinner, and your shedding rate stays the same, you have no problems.
If however, you notice more shedding than you are accustomed to, and it seems to be going on for a period longer than you are used to, then you MAY have a problem worth investigating. You will need to consult your obstetrician, to find out what is causing the prolonged loss, and what relief could be available to you. Remember that hormonal issues could contribute to hair loss and breakage. Therefore, you may need to eliminate the possibility of early menopause and hormonal imbalance.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.