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Hair Care

Dr. V. S. Chauhan

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The shape and size of the follicle decides what kind of hair will grow out of it. Deep and large ones produce coarse hair, fine ones produce fine hair, curved ones produce wavy hair and very curved ones produce very curly or frizzy hair.

Hair growth is not a continuous process. It takes place according to a set pattern, each follicle taking its turn to produce a hair. Our follicles are very disciplined and perform their duties with precision and punctuality, so that growth takes place in three definite stages of rest, activity and decay.

The part which was visible on the skin surface is called the shaft and a rounded structure which was embedded in the skin is called the bulb. The shaft is the dead part of the hair; it has neither nerves nor blood vessels and that is why all the time we handle our hair there is no pain. Living part is under the skin, the hair bulb, the root of the hair.

A change in either for the better or for worse in this entire area of the skin is bound to be reflected in the condition of the hair that emerges out of the follicle.

Since the hair is a dead structure when it appears on the surface of the skin, it starts to deteriorate the movement it leaves the scalp. However, it is very resilient and survives all the insults heaped on it very well so that even after mishandling, if it is cosseted a bit, it bounces back to its original condition, unless, of course, the damage has been too great for it to take.

Now it is known that hair is 97% protein, of a kind called keratin. Skin, nails and hair are all made of keratin, which has different forms. Its chief component is sulphur. Keratin is the end-product of all the processes that take place during the growing phase of the hair cycle and the acquiring of it can be compared to the aging process in humans. What actually happens is that when water is lost from the cells, they harden, collect pigment and emerge out of the skin as dead structures.

Keratin is chemically not very active. That is why our hair is able to take a lot of punishment without being damaged. Sulphur and other chemicals are arranged in a specific manner within the substance of each hair, so that if we wish to change the look of our hair, a change in the internal structure will be required.

Science has made it possible for the change to be made, temporary though it may be.

Permanent waving, colouring, bleaching, straightening, etc. are all processes which change the internal structure.

The colour of the skin and the hair is determined genetically and ranges from very fair to very dark, depending on racial characteristics.

Situated at the base of each hair follicle is a factory consisting of cells with the specialised job of manufacturing colour. These are called melanocytes, and their product is a pigment called melanin found throughout the skin and in the hair.

‘Melanin’ actually means ‘black’, but the term is used to describe many shades like grey, yellow, brown, red and black. It is not the number of melanocytes that decides the actual shade, but the amount of melanin they produce and how they distribute it. Areas exposed to sunlight are darker to provide protection against the ultra-violet rays of sun.

as far as the greying of hair is concerned, Age is a predominant factor. After all the hard work done by the melanocytes to produce a specific colour, it is lost as we get older.

The reason is simply that the melanocytes decide to go slow with production and eventually close down the factory altogether. The timings are controlled by heredity and modified by outside influences, so no one can definitely specify an age when greying will begin. Any time after thirty years of age is considered normal.

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