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Facts Behind Maintaining Healthy Hair

John Simmonds

Posted on February 14 2018

Facts Behind Maintaining Healthy Hair

Hair is Dead.

Surprisingly not too many people are familiar with this fact, and to think that we spend many hours each week, prodding, primping, coloring, cutting, twisting, curling, and let's face it, obsessing over something that is absolutely 100% dead.

Despite this, our hair can respond quite well to this, but in time, these methods take their toll.

Hair is technically part of our skin, although like fingernails and toenails, it grows and separates from our skin. The average head contains around 100,000 hair follicles, and our entire body is home to around 5 million hair follicles. What keeps hair growing happens below the surface of the skin.

Hair grows about 1 to 2 inches a month and grows to a length of 1.5 to 3 feet before growth stops and the hair falls out.

Types Of Hair.

Although it appears that many Caucasians have thinner hair than other ethnicities, Caucasians actually have the highest number of hairs on their heads, an average of two hundred hairs per square centimeter.
Asians have the thickest hair, which makes it appear as though they have more hairs on their head, but they don't: they average about one hundred and fifty hairs per square centimeter.
People of African descent have the thinnest and the finest hair, but because it mats together more than Caucasian or Asian hair, it appears thicker. African hair averages a hundred and thirty hairs per square centimeter.

It’s your parents' fault that you have no hair. The overwhelming majority of men with balding fall into the genetic category. Female genetic balding occurs much less frequently, but up to 50% of women have hair loss related to their inherited genes. 

Diseases 

A number of diseases as well as hormonal in fluences, including thyroid disease and anemia, cause hair loss. Autoimmune disease also can cause patchy hair loss.
Mechanical hair loss is caused by external forces such as tight braiding, rubber banding, turbans, or other hair torture devices that put stress and strain on your hair. 

Hair Loss 

Stress can contribute to hair loss and more so in those who are genetically predisposed to it (thanks parents!) 

Medications like anabolic steroids, birth control pills, antidepressants, and tranquilizers, can cause hair loss. I think that it's a rule of thumb that when you put something inorganic or unnatural in your body, there's going to be a tax to pay. In this case it's your hair. 

These days hair (and beauty) is a major status symbol; you can find gazillions of products devoted to hair care, which only emphasize the problem for those experiencing hair loss. Many men now have their hair styled rather than just getting it cut at a local barber shop. Television and the media give the impression that a full head of luxurious hair is the norm, suggesting that those who are losing it are somehow abnormal. 

Hair Loss in Women 

Women lose hair, but not in the same ways as men do. Yet severe hair loss tends to be even more devastating to women than it is to men. Hair loss may be a serious blow to a woman’s self-esteem, in large part because of cultural norms, society’s concept of femininity, and the expectation that a woman should have glossy, luxurious, wellkept hair. We know that because the magazines we read tell us just that. 

 

As much as half of all women suffer from hair loss at some time in their lives. Women’s hair loss tends to differ from men’s hair loss both in cause and in the way the hair is affected. Women’s hair loss is generally widespread, with thinning all over the scalp rather than loss in certain areas; rarely do you see women whose hair loss looks like typical male pattern baldness. 

Prevention 

If you’re starting to lose your hair, it’s important to take care of the hair you still have. Here are a few pointers in that direction. 

  • Backcombing your hair damages the hair shaft – don't do it. 
  • Don’t rub your hair dry with a towel. 
  • Don’t over dry your hair with a blow dryer; stop before your hair is completely dry.
  • Select the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type.

We have already addressed the fact that our hair is dead. So what do we do to prolong its healthy appearance?

The bonds that help hold hair in a certain position can be broken or rearranged, such as when hair is permed or straightened. There are three types of bonds that determine the strength and the lift of the hair:
Hydrogen bonds break down easily and give hair its flexibility. Hydrogen bonds come apart when you wet your hair and come back together again as your hair dries.

Salt bonds are temporary and easy to rearrange because they’re water-dependent and easily dissolved when your hair is washed. Salt bonds are easily broken by weak alkaline products like ammonia, or acid solutions that contain chlorine or copper peptide in high concentration and by changes in pH. These bonds can be reformed by normalizing the pH level of the hair with normalizing solutions available at your local hair salons.

Disulfide bonds are relatively permanent and can only be changed with perming and relaxing agents. 

Disulphide bonds are stronger than hydrogen and salt bonds, and there are fewer of them than the other types. Disulfide bonds are the most important factors in supplying the hair with its strength and durability, and as such, they can’t be broken by heat or water. 

Wet hair can be stretched by as much as 30%, and you can change the shape of the hair bonds when it’s stretched. For example, when you put rollers on your wet hair and then allow the hair to dry on the rollers, the hydrogen bonds take on the shape of the rollers, which essentially sets the hydrogen bonds in this new shape. 

Greasy Hair – sebum and the scalp. 

Your scalp helps keep your hair looking healthy by supplying an abundant and constant production of sebum, an oily secretion produced by the sebaceous glands. It’s secreted onto the hair as the hair emerges from the scalp through pores in the skin. The sebum works its way into the hair on the surface of the cuticle, and it’s spread through the hair as the hair moves by being combed, touched or even blown by the wind. 

If hair is cut short, the same amount of sebum is produced, so relatively more sebum covers less hair, causing it to appear more greasy. (It also causes the bald pate to acquire a sheen rather quickly after showering because there’s no hair to carry off the oil.) There’s nothing you can do about oily hair other than wash your hair more often and use a shampoo made especially for greasy hair. Try not to look at it as a bad thing, as dry hair can be more problematic than greasy hair, within reason. 

Teenagers have a high sebum output, which is why so many complain of greasy or oily hair. Drugs can be prescribed for teenagers who hate their greasy hair, and some professionals feel that the sebum production can be impacted by drugs such as Propecia or saw palmetto, which block production of the DHT hormone, but studies show no connection between a lack of DHT production and decreased sebum production. 

Getting Untangled 

Most modern shampoos also contain some conditioning agents mixed in with the cleansers for easy combing of wet hair. You also have the option of using a separate conditioner for even better detangling. 

If you’re having difficulty detangling your hair, applying more and more conditioner won’t help. Rather, dry your hair and then use a detangling agent. 

Dreadlocks or long kinky hair can be a detangling nightmare. It may help to separate your hair into sections and go through each section using a long knitting needle. Detangle it from the scalp out- ward if possible; you may run into a knot that you need to detangle against the direction of the scales on the cuticle. 

Damage to the hair structure during the detangling process is a real risk, so this process should never be rushed. In other words, attempting to yank your comb through a tangle is not recommended. 

Chemicals 

Shampoos and conditioners are more than cleaning agents: They’re also a rich mix of chemicals, which are added to control the thickness of the solution, control the pH (the degree of acidity present). 

Surfactants are also added in order to 

Help shampoo to lather.

Help hair to rinse easily and thoroughly.

Eliminate the need for hard scrubbing, which can be damaging.

Remove grease and dirt from the scalp and hair, because surfactants can penetrate physical barriers, such as flakes of skin and dirt, embedded in the skin or hair.

Cause the shampoo to foam up, which helps lift dirt into the foam (different from lathering). A thicker shampoo with surfactants in it will easily spread through the hair.

Basic Hair Facts
It is important to maintain a balance between the chemical harshness of the shampoo and the sensitivity of the scalp skin, particularly for people with sensitive scalps.

There are many shampoo options, but selecting the right one for your hair isn’t really that dif ficult 

when you understand the categories. Shampoos are generally geared toward use on normal, fine, or dry hair; you just have to figure out which one you have. Here’s a breakdown: 

 

Normal Hair 

  • Is not greasy nor dry in its natural state. 
  • Isn’t permed or colored. 
  • Doesn't need a lot of products. 
  • Looks good naturally. 

Fine hair 

  • Tends to be limp. 
  • Looks flat and lacks volume. 
  • It is dif ficult to manage. 
  • It can become greasy soon after washing. 

Dry Hair 

  • Has a dull appearance. 
  • Is often frizzy and feels rough. 
  • Has typically been treated by perming or coloring. 
  • Tangles easily. 

Greasy Hair 

  • Has an oily appearance. 
  • Excess oils tend to weigh the hair down, making it difficult to manage, because the oil clings to dirt and particulate matter. Because sebum is easily spread by touch, don’t run your fingers through your hair after drying and styling. 
  • If your hair is greasy, be sure to use a shampoo designed for greasy hair. It has more powerful surfactants to get the grease off of the scalp and hair shafts, but be aware that more powerful surfactants may be more irritating to the eyes and skin.