The Basics of Hair


Hair is a protein-rich, biologically synthesized material with a keratin core. It is an essential part of a person’s body and serves several functions including thermal regulation, camouflage, protection, signaling, mating, and non-verbal communication. It may also act as a sensory extension, extending the sense of touch beyond the surface of the skin. For some mammals, hair can even provide offensive and defensive functions, such as the lion’s mane or porcupine quills.

The hair follicle, which is the structure that gives rise to the hair, contains stem cells that can continuously divide and regrow new hair. When the hair reaches its desired length, it enters a transitional phase called the catagen phase. This stage lasts two to four weeks. Then the hair follicle goes into a resting phase, which can last several months. During this time, the hair follicle is not producing any new hair but it continues to grow a small amount of tissue around the hair follicle. The follicle is supplied with blood by a blood vessel called the hair papilla.

When the hair is at rest, the follicle produces an oily substance called sebum. This sebum lubricates and helps to waterproof the hair. The hair follicle is also attached to a tiny muscle, the arrector pili, that can make the hair stand up when it contracts. It is also attached to nerves that can detect the slightest movement. The hair follicle is also surrounded by fat and connective tissue, which adds volume and texture to the hair.

Throughout history, people have modified their hair by cutting and styling it according to fashion, culture, and practical considerations. People’s hair can be a source of pride, identity, and status. It has been used to mark social distinctions such as race, ethnicity, and class. It has also been used to denote social and cultural norms such as gender roles, morality, sexuality, and worldviews.

Haircuts and styles can change a person’s appearance dramatically, accentuating certain features and hiding others. This is why proper care of the hair is important. Styling hair requires effort and time to create the appearance one desires. For this reason, it is considered an art form. Many people spend a lot of money on hair care products and services. They may also seek out the services of professional stylists to help them achieve their desired appearance. Hairstyles can be very complex and require a high level of skill to perform. During the earliest days of human civilization, it is believed that men and women began to wear their hair in a wide variety of styles. These styles included plaits, braids, and coils. Over time, the hairstyles became more sophisticated and elaborate. In ancient Egypt, for example, the royal courts had specific rules about how women should wear their hair. Similarly, in the Middle Ages, there were formal styles for men’s hair that were often associated with religion. During the modern era, there have been many trends in haircuts and styles, with people experimenting with different looks to suit their personalities, preferences, and lifestyles.