When you think of your hair, you probably think of the hair on your head. But there's
hair on almost every part of your body. (Places that don't have hair include the lips,
the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet.)
Some of the hair on your body is easy to see, like your eyebrows and the hair on
your head, arms, and legs. But other hair, like that on your cheek, is almost invisible.
Depending on where it is, hair has different jobs. The hair on your head keeps
your head warm and provides a little cushioning for your skull. Eyelashes protect
your eyes by decreasing the amount of light and dust that go into them, and eyebrows
protect your eyes from sweat dripping down from your forehead.
Hair Comes From Where?
Whether hair is growing out of your head, arm, or ankle, it all rises out of the
skin in the same way. It starts at the hair root, a place beneath the skin where cells
band together to form keratin (the protein that hair is made of). The root is inside
a follicle (say: FOL-ih-kul), which is like a small tube in the skin.
As the hair begins to grow, it pushes up from the root and out of the follicle,
through the skin where it can be seen. Tiny blood vessels at the base of every follicle
feed the hair root to keep it growing. But once the hair is at the skin's surface,
the cells within the strand of hair aren't alive anymore. The hair you see on every
part of your body contains dead cells. That's why it doesn't cause pain when someone
cuts your hair with scissors!
Nearly every hair follicle is attached to a sebaceous (say: sih-BAY-shus)
gland, which is sometimes called an oil gland. These sebaceous glands produce oil,
which makes the hair shiny and a bit waterproof. Sometimes, like during puberty,
these glands can pump out too much oil and a person's hair may look greasy. Time for
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!
You have more than 100,000 hairs on your head, but you lose some every day. About
50 to 100 hairs fall out each day while you're washing your hair, brushing or combing
it, or just sitting still. But don't worry, new hairs are constantly replacing those
that have fallen out.
Each hair on your head grows for about 2 to 6 years. Then it rests for a few months
and finally falls out. It is replaced by a new hair, which begins to grow from the
same hair follicle. This cycle of hair growing, resting, falling out, and being replaced
helps to maintain just the right number of hairs on your head.
Hair Comes in Many Colors
What kind of hair do you have — black and curly, blond and straight, or some
other combination? Hair color comes from melanin (say: MEL-uh-nun),
the substance that gives hair and skin its pigment. The lighter someone's hair, the
less melanin there is. A person with brown or black hair has much more melanin than
someone with blond or red hair. Older people lose the melanin pigment in their hair
as they age, making their hair look gray
Often, a person's skin color goes with the color of his or her hair. For example,
many blondes have light skin, whereas many people with darker skin have dark brown
or black hair. And don't forget genes
(genes are what you inherit from your parents): Usually, a kid's hair color is determined
by one or both parents' hair color.
When it comes to type, your hair follicles make a difference. Some hair follicles
are structured in a way that produces curly hair, whereas others send out straight
hair. Follicles also determine if your hair will be thick and coarse or thin and fine.
Taking Care of Hair
With hair, the main thing is keeping it clean. Some people wash their hair every
day, but others do it just once or twice a week. It depends on your hair and what
kind of things you've been doing, like exercising or swimming.
When you wash your hair, use a gentle shampoo and warm water. Lather up using your
fingertips, rather than your fingernails. You might use a conditioner or a shampoo
containing a conditioner. This can take the tangles out or your hair and make it look
smooth. But depending on your hair, it can also make it look flat and oily. Rinse
your hair with plenty of clean water. Dry it gently with a towel and use a wide-tooth
comb to untangle it.
Be kind to your hair — wet or dry — by being gentle when you comb or
brush your hair. Don't yank on knots too hard and don't wear your ponytails and braids
too tight. This can irritate your scalp. And if you use curling irons or blow-dryers,
be careful and ask for adult help when needed. You don't want to burn yourself.
Here's an easy way to have great-looking hair: Eat a healthy diet. It's not as
weird as it sounds. A nutritious diet helps your body from the inside out!