Hair is a common feature found on the bodies of most mammals. It serves a variety of functions, from thermal regulation and camouflage to signaling for mating or other communicative purposes. It also helps to protect the body by shielding it against cold and UV rays. For some animals, like polar bears and porcupines, hair can even be used for defensive protection.
Hair grows from follicles that protrude through the epidermis, with most of the shaft visible at the skin’s surface. It is composed of a bundle of dead keratinized cells, with a few growing cells at the base of the follicle. Its appearance is determined by its shape, color and texture. There are many types of hair, and each has its own unique structure.
The outer layer of the hair fiber is called the cuticle, which is made of a series of flattened cuticle cells that cover each coiled protein filament. The cuticle is clear, but the inner part of the hair fiber (called the cortex) contains pigments that give it its color. The coiled proteins are held together by an elastic matrix called the medulla. The medulla is composed of a dense network of cell walls.
A specialized type of sex organ known as the follicle bulb is located at the base of each hair strand. It is the source of hair’s elasticity, which allows it to stretch before breaking. The follicle bulb contains mitotically active basal cells, which grow into the elongated filaments that form the hair.
Mammalian hair consists of two parts: the shaft, which protrudes above the skin, and the root, which is sunk in a pit (follicle) beneath the skin’s surface. The shaft is a keratinous filament composed of dead keratinized cells, while the root is a curved rod extending from the base of the hair follicle and anchored to the skin.
A number of factors influence a person’s hair, including genetics and environment. Hair is most commonly found on the head, but it can also be found on other areas of the body. In some cultures, the style or length of a person’s hair has significant cultural meaning, as it may be a mark of social status or a sign of mourning.
Using descriptive hair words in your writing can help you set the scene and convey a sense of your character’s personality. For example, if your character has thick and coarse hair, you can describe how it feels to touch and the way it moves. Likewise, fine hair may feel smooth and slick to the touch. Whether your character has silky, curly or frizzy hair, these descriptions can help readers visualize your character’s look and feel for themselves. They can even make your reader see the characters in a different light by making them aware of how their physical features might inform a person’s character and behaviors.