Knowing more about the make up and care of your hair can help you keep it looking beautiful for a lifetime.

Your hair says more about you than you may realize. A head of strong, healthy hair may be a birthright, but unless you take good care of it and your body, it can succumb to breakage, thinning, and dullness. Aging, illness, poor nutrition, and environmental factors all have an effect on hair.

But what is hair made of, and how can you keep it looking its best? Let’s explore the composition of hair and how to care for it.

What is Hair Made of?

Hair is made of a tough protein called keratin. Keratin is comprised of the dead skin cells that are sloughed off when new cells are generated by the body. The new cells cause the old cells to become compacted as they are cut off from their blood supply. The resulting keratin proteins that are formed then begin to harden into hair and fingernail fibers.

As these waste cells build up, hair grows. Growth rates are affected by season, heredity, age, and gender. Factors such as hormonal imbalances, poor blood circulation, disease, malnutrition, and some medications can also have an effect on hair growth. Hair usually grows faster during the summer months than at any other time of the year. 

Caring for Different Hair Types

Hair can be tightly coiled or arrow straight. The strands can be large and coarse or fine and wispy. It can also be thick or thin. Between the extremes of hair texture there are many combinations.

The main types of hair and their sub-categories include:

Type 1: Straight Hair

Hair with no curl or wave to it is essentially straight.

  • 1A: Fine hair that is soft, wispy, shiny, and may be thin.
  • 1B: A little thicker than fine straight hair with more volume and body to it. 
  • 1C: Straight hair that is coarse and thick and may be difficult to manage.
Type 2: Wavy Hair

Wavy strands of hair generally form an “S” shape rather than a coil.

  • 2A: Hair has a slight bend to the shaft and is typically fine.
  • 2B: Tighter, more defined waves that are prone to frizz.
  • 2C: Characterized by loose, spiral curls that frizz on humid days. 

Type 3: Curly Hair

Curly hair can range from loose ringlets to tight spirals.

  • 3A: Fine hair with big, loose curls.
  • 3B: Springy ringlets that aren’t too thick or too delicate.
  • 3C: Coarse, corkscrew curls that are a hybrid of bouncy and tight.
Type 4: Coily Hair

A variation of curly hair, coily or kinky hair, can be a mix of “Z” and “S” shaped curls.

  • 4A: Fine textured hair that can appear to be thick due to tightly coiled S-curls.
  • 4B: Soft, Z-shaped coils that are generally fragile and varies in thickness.
  • 4C: Thick, Z-shaped curls.
Type 5: Thick Hair

With thick hair there are lots of strands that totally cover the scalp; straight, wavy, or curly.

Type 6: Thin/Fine Hair

Thin or fine hair usually means fewer strands, or at least, the appearance of it.

Hair type is determined by genetics. While some people temporarily alter it by chemical processing or heat application, we don’t recommend this because it will damage your hair. 

Depending on your hair type, maintenance and styling will vary. Your professional stylist will have tips to help you manage your locks.

Thinning Hair

Aside from aesthetics, thinning hair can be a problem. Of course, some thinning of the hair comes natural with age, but other factors can also be the cause. These include a poor diet, some medications, genetic influences, over processing, and extreme pulling on the hair for styling purposes.

Sudden hair loss can be the result of physical or emotional shock. In this case, hair loss is usually temporary. Chemotherapy is also a common reason for temporary thinning or total loss of hair. Doctors who specialize in thinning hair include endocrinologists and dermatologists. If you have unexplained hair loss, one of these can help.

Caring for Your Hair

Depending on your hair type, caring for it will vary. Here are some tips:

  • Curly hair, for instance, can be damaged by excessive washing and styling. If you have curly hair, it may tend toward dryness, so it is best to use a non-sulfate shampoo and maybe only wash your hair a couple of times a week. 
  • Straight hair can sometimes be oily, so it would require more frequent shampooing as well as products that are specific to straight hair. 
  • Wavy hair is typically not too oily nor too dry, but it may be prone to frizz. Wash and condition every 2-3 days, and when drying avoid heat as much as possible, and instead scrunch your hair gently with your hands to promote waves as it dries). Deep conditioning or using scalp oil weekly can help decrease frizz, too.
  • Coily hair can be more manageable with specific styling like dreadlocks or short hairdos.

Today’s hair care products address specific hair types. Depending on your needs, using products that are formulated for your hair type along with a diet of whole fresh foods can keep your mane beautiful for years to come.

What questions do you have about the make up and care of your hair?