A few weeks ago my hair and I were featured on a hair science blog called HairWonderfulDay (please read it here if you haven’t already!). I asked Laura, who runs HairWonderfulDay to share with you all a bit of hair biology since her research focuses on hair. I really hope you enjoy this Q&A as much as I did, Laura provides us with some fabulous information about the science behind hair. Enjoy!
Q0: Can you give us a little information about yourself and your background in hair science?
I am Laura living in Manchester, UK. I have been doing a Ph.D. in human hair follicles for over 3 years and I have six months until I finish. My project focuses mostly on transcriptional factor that influences hair growth signaling pathways and also regulates cellular homeostasis. However, in the last few years, I have been looking at a lot of hair follicles and I realized I am very interested how hair products are actually affecting our hair. I really wanted to learn more not only about hair follicle but also about the hair shaft and for that reason I created hairwonderfulday.com where I share my knowledge about hair, products and scientific facts. I really believe that all of us should give more love to our hair as it really affects how we feel and how confident we are. Also, media is full of very wrong hair myths and it is about time we ditch them!
P.S if you fancy some scientific hair follicle knowledge and pictures check out my first publication https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Jadkauskaite
Q1: What is the composition of hair?
Hair shaft is composed of three layers – medulla that is the innermost layer of the hair, cortex that contains hair pigment melanin gives our hair colour and is also responsible for the hair strength and holding the moisture. Cuticle that is composed of the dead cells and is the outermost part of the hair protects our hair from all the damage and if hair is not washed right or constantly exposed in the sun and heat, it becomes very fragile. Importantly, our hair is around 90% composed of protein so using hair products rich in hydrolysed protein can really help to maintain healthy hair structures.
Q2: How do different hair types exist? (what makes curly hair curly? Straight hair? etc.)
How long hair is and what type it is all comes from the hair follicle. Imagine hair follicle as the main headquarters because it does a lot – produces hair colour, hair shape, hair length, hair health and much more. Do you know that hair follicle can also help in wound healing?! The hair shape is defined by hair follicle so if you have straight hair or curly hair just google image it and you will see how different is the position of the hair follicle! (I found a picture of what Laura is talking about so everyone can visual it better!)
Q3: How fast does hair actually grow? Is there a scientific way to make hair grow faster?
Hair growth contains three stages – anagen that lasts up to 6-8 years, catagen that is when hair is getting ready to fall and lasts for couple of months and telogen, the final stage when hair growth stops and a new hair follicle starts formatting (hair falls out). How fast it grows? Hard to answer as for every single individual is different, because it depends how long is anagen lasting. To make hair growth faster is very difficult so please don’t believe the myths that cutting your hair, putting egg masks or not brushing your hair will make your hair grow faster because it won’t. Hair follicle is magical yet complicated structure and the things that can really affect hair growth are hormones, blood supply, and nutrition. However, one tip I can give is to really look after your scalp as if you don’t have a healthy scalp no chance you will have a healthy long hair.
Q4: Is our head hair the same as eyebrow and body hair?
We have two types of hair on our body – vellus and terminal. Terminal hair includes our head hair and eyebrows. Vellus hair is our ‘baby hair’ that is light and we find around the body. Men’s beard, chest, leg, and arms are terminal hair as during puberty androgen levels increase causing a switch from vellus to terminal hair. For us ladies, it is a bit different, as majority body parts retain vellus hair (different hormonal system) so please don’t believe that shaving your legs will turn you into polo bear as this is a bad myth.
Q5: How delicate is hair? Do we really need to be using a heat protectant?
Hair is very delicate but it also varies from person to person. I never used heat protection until I started studying hair and I still had good healthy hair. However, now I really encourage to use heat protection, especially with so many styling tools available and hair style inspirations. Also, it very much depends how many times per week hair has been washed, whether any oils have been used and even how hard the water is (this has a huge impact on hair swelling!).
“Everyone is different and has very different hair but loving your hair, looking after it can really increase self-confidence and love.”
Thank you so much, Laura, for sharing your hair science knowledge, I hope everyone learned something here today! Please follow Laura’s lovely blog and social medias for gorgeous pictures and daily beauty science facts! Follow the HairWonderful Day website and on Instagram & Twitter at @hairwonderfulday.