Things to know about hair

We usually think of hair only as a mass, as a hairstyle. But if we were to take a closer look at a single hair or put it under a microscope, we would be amazed at how complex its structure is. Roughly speaking, the structure of each hair can be divided into three areas: the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla. It all sounds Latin, and it is.

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The inner structure of the hair

The outermost layer, what we see of a hair, is the cuticle. Flat dead cells that lie on top of each other like scales form this uppermost layer of our hair. This doesn’t sound particularly attractive, but it corresponds to a fact. When up to about 150,000 such layers of dandruff on a person’s head are coiffed into the right shape, it can look really good.

Incidentally, the structure of these cell layers also provides information about a person’s state of health: If the cell layers lie flat on top of each other, this forms a smooth surface and makes the hair appear shiny, full and glossy. If a person is ill, the cell layers tend to stick out and the hair appears brittle, dull and sick. Thus, our hair is always a mirror of our health.

The main part of the human hair is the cortex, the fibrous stem. It can make up to 80% of the hair. The cortex is a bundle of keratin fibres. These fibres, also called fibrils, are formed by the interconnection of individual cortex cells. The connection is made by many cell membranes that act like a glue. The healthier the hair, the stronger this membrane connection. The hair becomes tear-resistant and at the same time retains its elasticity.

The third component of the hair is the medulla, the hair marrow. The medulla consists of a mixture of degradation products of the fibre stem, cell walls and the body’s own fat.

The hair – from root to tip

Having looked at the structural internal make-up of a hair, let us now look at a hair from root to tip. The hair root is located in the lower layers of our skin, in the subcutis or dermis. At the top of the hair root is the hair follicle. The hair follicle (also called the hair follicle) is an elongated invagination of the epidermis that is connected to the hair root at the bottom. The hair shaft, from which the hair can grow upwards through the skin, is located in the hair follicle.

Exactly there, in the lower part of the dermis, the hair is formed at the hair papilla. The horny cells of the hair are formed permanently and grow slowly upwards through the hair shaft. Cells located there, the so-called melanocytes, release their pigments into the hair and are responsible for giving our hair its specific colour.

However, the hair on our body is not always a beloved and beautiful ornament. In some parts of the body we could happily do without it. If you would like to know more about permanent hair removal, then take a look at these pages. BellaDerma is a recognised specialist centre that specialises in permanent hair removal in Berlin.


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The medical staff of trained specialists, beauticians and alternative practitioners are happy to advise you on the possible treatments. The consultation is non-binding and free of charge. Call us on +49/30/88 92 92 20.

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