Human hair is surrounded by a cuticle. The bulk of hair consists of the cortex, which contributes most of the mechanical strength of the hair fibers. Within the cortex is the medulla, which may or may not be present.
Human hair contains a large number of proteins. Most of the protein is contained within the cortex. Different parts of the hair contain different amino acids:
1. the cuticle contains more amino acids than the whole hair. It has cysteine, cysteic acid, proline, threonine, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, tyrosine, phenylalanine and arginine than whole hair.
2. The hair tip has less cysteine than the root end while the root has less cysteic acid than the hair tip.
The quantities of protein in a human’s hair vary according to: genetics, wear and tear, environmental conditions, diet and cosmetic treatment.
Hair also contains water, lipids, and several trace elements e.g. calcium, magnesium, strontium, boron, aluminium, silicone, sodium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, iron, silver, among others. Many of the trace elements are from external sources, while most of the toxins are derived from the food eaten.
Clearly, in order to have healthy hair, we need to eat well. Adequate protein and the vitamins that are co-factors to the protein e.g. vitamin B-complex as well as minerals. Various foods have been mentioned as sources of nutrients essential for the growth of healthy hair.
The scalp is the ‘gateway’ of the hair to the outside world. If the scalp is damaged or scarred, then the hair will not penetrate through it. Chemical relaxers have the potential to damage the scalp in three ways:
1. because they are dehydrating by their nature and will dry out the scalp, resulting in scaly skin that peels from the scalp.
2. Scalp burns can cause scarring. Scarred skin is too thick for the hair shaft to penetrate and thus hair will not grow, naturally.
A scalp massage stimulates blood circulation and nourishes the hair root. It can only be good for your hair, your scalp and well-being.
Our Senses: The Best Guide to Safe Hair Management
Remember that you have five senses for a reason and two of them touch and smell are very good tests of whether a product will damage our scalp and hair. If a product smells bad, hurts or irritates or burns your skin or scalp, irritates your eyes, surely it cannot be good for you or your hair. If a procedure hurts then it is probably causing damage on the body – which could be temporary or permanent. We are all equipped with excellent detectors of what is good for us or not, our noses, eyes, our sense of touch and our sensitivity to pain. These senses have helped us survive through the ages. Perhaps it is time to listen to our senses to save our hair, our skin (literally) and our health.