1. Hair structure
Hair Follicles: Hair originates from the dermis part of the skin and the hair follicles located in the dermis (middle layer of the skin) maintain stem cells from which hair regrows. Stems cells supplied by blood capillaries which feed them with vital nutrients. The follicle is the only living part of hair. Hair as we see it produces no biochemical activity and is considered dead. Not more than 10 % of hair follicles are in resting condition at any given time. The shape of the hair follicle determines the shape of the fiber or in other words how straight or curly the hair is. Round hair follicle produces generally straight hair and oval and irregularly shaped follicle produce more wavy and curly hair types.
Hair has basically 3 layers:
(a) Cuticle layer which consist of flat thin cells laid out overlapping one another just like roof shingles: Cuticle determines shine – how hair reflects light- straight hair type reflect light more than curly and wavy hair. The cuticle protects the cortex from damage but over time it can wear off exposing the cortex to even further damage. As hair grows longer cuticle layer erodes due to friction with other hair strands, brushing, combing etc. This leads to split ends and/ or gaps in the cuticle.
(b) Cortex – is Keratin bundles that remain roughly rod like: Cortex is the primary source of hair mechanical strength and water uptake and contains melanin which colours the fiber.
(c) Medulla - is the open area at the centre of the fiber.
2. Hair Nutrition: Since originates from the stem cell in the hair follicle, nourishing hair start from inside the body, nutrition, metabolism and hormone plays key role in growth and health of hair. A good hair care regime all boils to nutrition.
Important nutrients for hair
(a) Vitamins B group – B12 prevents hair loss, Biotin (B7) promotes growth deficiency if which can lead to alopecia or thinning and eventual loss of hair, B5 give hair flexibility, strength and shine while reducing loss and aging of hair, B6 prevents dandruffs.
(b) Vitamin A and C helps on the production of Sebum which is a natural conditioner of hair. In Curly and wavy increased production of sebum is important to reduce dryness of the hair than in straight hair.
(c) Vitamin E: Stimulates the circulation in the scalp.
(d) Proteins: Low proteins leads to brittle hair. The quality of protein is also important as is the quantity. Profound deficiencies of proteins can lead to loss of hair color.
Important minerals for Hair are:
(a) Zinc: Zinc deficiency can lead to shedding of hair,
(b) Selenium: aids the body to utilize proteins consumed: hair is predominantly protein
(c) Calcium: Hair follicles use calcium to make keratinized protein- keratin are insoluble proteins that make hair and nails.
(d) Iron: Helps increase blood circulation to the hair follicles and scalp which fuels hair growth
(e) MSM It is Sulfur found in foods, it naturally increases your hair growth.
(f) Magnesium: helps build proteins and cell membranes
Ultimate hair care means taking your diet seriously and even supplementing to ensure you have these nutrients and minerals. In addition the same minerals especially protein and vitamins need to be main ingredients of Shampoos and rinse, deep and leave-in conditioners.
3. PH and Hair:
What I understand pH to mean in lay man’s language is a measure the alkalinity or acidity of a substance or environment. Alkalinity and acidity has to do with potential hydrogen in the substance. Acids have high concentration of H+ than OH- and alkaline have more concentration of OH-than H+. Water is said to be neutral or in balance of the two ions. pH is measured on a scale of 0-14 where 7 is neutral and anything below 7 is acidic and above 7 alkaline. The pH of hair is 5 meaning it is slightly acidic.
A slightly acidic rinse smooths up the hair cuticle and seals in moisture. It also lightens and enables shine on the hair. Rinsing using green tea, cider vinegar, chamomile, ginger, lemon juice gives good results. These also have good effect on scalp and reduce dandruffs. Cold water too smoothen the hair, so it is better to always use cold water to rinse hair.