[Hair structure] [General
facts about hair] [Other facts]
The Structure of Your
We will begin by defining the hair. Hair is
composed primarily of proteins (88%). These proteins are of a hard fibrous
type known as keratin. Keratin protein is comprised of what we call "polypeptide
chains.” The word, polypeptide, comes from the Greek word "poly" meaning
many and "peptos" meaning digested or broken down. In essence, if we break
down protein, we have individual amino acids. Many (poly) amino acids joined
together form a "polypeptide chain". Two amino acids are joined together
by a "peptide bond", and the correct number of amino acids placed in their
correct order will form a specific protein; i.e. keratin, insulin, collagen
and so on. The "alpha helix" is the descriptive term given to the polypeptide
chain that forms the keratin protein found in human hair. Its structure
is a coiled coil. The amino acids link together to form the coil and there
are approximately 3.6 amino acids per turn of the helix (coil). Each amino
acid is connected together by a "peptide bond". The peptide bond is located
between the carbon atom of one amino acid extending to bond with the nitrogen
atom of the next amino acid.
The A Helix Coil
In the organization of a single hair, three
"alpha helices" are twisted together to form a "protofibril". This is actually
the first fibril structure of the hair. Nine protofibrils are then bundled
in a circle around two or more to form an eleven-stranded cable known as
the "microfibril". These microfibrils are embedded in an amphorous unorganized
protein matrix of high sulfur content, and hundreds of such microfibrils
are cemented into an irregular fibrous bundle called a "macrofibril". These
macrofibrils are grouped together to form the cortex (or the main body)
layers of the hair fiber. Packed dead cells surround these structures and
are known as the cuticular layers of the hair. In the center of these structures
lies the medullary canal, which is actually apart of the excretory system
and houses any foreign debris, heavy metals, synthetics and medications
that are thrown off by the body and eventually released through the canal.
Bonding in Keratin Protein
When the hair is in its normal unstretched
state. It is referred to as A of alpha keratin. The original configuration
of the hair is held in place by the bonding found in the cortex layers
of the hair. As we stated earlier, keratin protein begins with an alpha
helix building into protofibrils, microfibrils, macrofibrils, then cortex
layers. The bonds in the hair are located within each and every alpha helix.
The Hydrogen Bond
The first bond we will discuss is the hydrogen
bond. This bond is located between the coils of the alpha helix and is
responsible for the ability of the hair to be stretched elasticity) and
return back to its original shape. The hydrogen bonds allow us to change
the shape of the hair temporarily with the aid of water. These bonds are
electrolytically controlled and are the most readily broken down and the
most readily reformed. These bonds are responsible for approximately 35%
of the strength of the hair and 50% of the hair's elasticity (some would
argue up to 99.9% of the hair’s elasticity).
The Salt Bond
The salt bond is also an ionic (electrolytically
controlled) bond formed by the electron transfer from the side chain of
a basic amino group (an amino acid with an 00C- group) to the side chain
of an acidic amino acid, i.e. NH3+. (This is two positive and negative
charges attracting one another.) This occurs in a position paralleled to
the axis line of the rotation of the helix of the hair. The salt bond is
responsible for approximately 35% of the strength of the hair and 50% of
the hair's elasticity.
The Cystine Bond
The cystine bond also known as the disulfide
bond, sulfur bond, or just S bond is formed by cross-links between cystine
residues (amino acids) of the main polypeptide chains. This bond is perpendicular
to the axis of the hair and between the polypeptide chains. Because of
its position in the hair, it is responsible for the hair's toughness or
abrasion resistance. (It actually holds the hair fibers together.) These
cross-links are frequent in the hair fiber, with maximum of frequency of
one cystine bond every four turns of the alpha helix. This is what enables
us to permanent wave the hair.
The Sugar Bond
The sugar bond is formed between the side
chain of an amino acid having an OH group and an acidic amino group. This
bond is also formed perpendicular to the axis of the hair. Because of its
position, it gives the hair toughness but little strength (5%). Some moisture
is contributed to the hair as a by-product of this bonding.
Isn't hair fun! :)
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Facts about Hair
Scientists claim that human beings will
increasingly loose their hair, resulting in a totally naked being. Many
hundred years have however to pass by until this awful prophecy will become
true. Until then we have enough time to study and understand the life of
Hair is actually dead material when it
leaves it's root - otherwise it would hurt very much when your hairdresser
works with his scissor. Most people know about this fact, but did you know
about other facts: On a normal scalp there are about 100-150 thousand hair
fibers. A blonde head of hair has usually much more fibers than red or
dark haired heads. Hair consists mainly of keratin, which is also responsible
for the elasticity of fingernails. A single hair has a thickness of 0.02-0.04mm,
so that 20-50 hair fibers next to each other make one millimeter. Hair
is strong as a wire of iron. It rips after applying a force equivalent
to 60kg, after it stretched itself for about 70%.
The root of a hair fiber sticks in a bag
in the skin. The fiber is pushed out of this bag about 0.35mm per day,
making an average growth rate of 1cm, or half of an inch, per month. The
growth rate is however very much related to the individual person, his
age, his diet etc.
Healthy hair has an average lifetime of
2-6 years. After a rest period of three months the single hair falls out,
and a new fiber starts to grow out of the bag. The lifetime depends on
circumstances and person, too. The lifetime of hair is responsible for
the maximum of hair length you can have. Waist length hair takes about
6 years to grow out from a short hair cut, periodic trims included. If
your hair has a lifecyle of 2 years, you will never achieve a nice waist
The short and sweet of hair
chemistry and how it effects your hair....
article by Mike Trobee ® 1996
I get questions everyday via email and in
salons. " I have dry hair, I have limp hair, I have....what do I do?" The
answer lies in knowing about your hair chemistry. Heat (blow dryers, irons,
rollers, etc.) rob the hair of moisture and essential fatty acids. Chemicals
do the same (perms, color, relaxers...)
Mechcanical damage is important also - (brushing
wet hair, combing, teasing, etc) can have negative effects on the cuticle
layer of the hair.
So now how do we correct the problems?
First, let's start by solving concerns BEFORE they start. Everyone ought
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A detangling comb
A thermal protector (ie. Sunset Hair Elements "Thermal
A good salon brand shampoo ( See
A good salon brand acidifier (a conditioner with a
pH 3.0) [See
A good leave in conditioner with UV protectors
[ See Volume
A blow dryer with a "cool" setting
A good styling tool - gel, spray gel, foam
A good working hair spray [Paul Mitchell®
"Fast Drying Sculpting Spray"]
A good finishing spray [Paul Mitchell®
"Freeze and Shine"]
Most professional designers have these and
that is why your hair feels so good when you leave the salon.
1) The detangling com is designed to
be used on damp hair. Start at the ends and work up.
2) A thermal protector STOPS heat damage
before it starts. Then there is no need to buy a "heavy duty reconstructor"
3) Most salon brand shampoos have a
pH 4.5-5.5 and use gentle cleansers. Also generally they are more concentrated.
4) An acidifying conditioner compacts
the cuticle. It detangles, adds body, adds natural shine, increases the
alpha bonds in the hair - it is a must
5) The sun and tanning beds will cause
chaos with the hair. Make sure your conditioner has plenty of sunscreen.
6) A "cool" setting on a dryer actually
helps "set" the hair. It cause little damage.
7) A good foam. gel, spray gel... will
add body and help your style.
8) A good "working spray" will aid
you when blow drying, setting, sculpting, or using irons. It is a hair
spray that can be applied to damp (if you wish) or dry hair.
9) Get a good 'finishing spray" - unlike
a "working spray" a finishing spray will keep the hair or sections of the
hair in place all day.
10) A last tip...do not do perms or
color at home. Yes, you will spend less upfront but a cosmetologist will
probably have to correct the damage. In the long run it will cost more.
pepople have different colors of hair:
Black, blond, and brown. What makes the color
of hair different? The answer lies in