What is Hair Made of?

Hair structure and composition

Hair is a very personal thing, no matter how you cut it. We’ll try anything to make our crowns stand out, from bleach blonde hair color to the latest hair accessories. Everyone’s mane is naturally unique because our hair grows in so many different shades, places, hair textures, and types. When it comes to hair anatomy, however, all of our strands are nearly identical. Visit our Houston hair salon to learn more about hair.

Even if you’ve mastered your signature hairstyle and hair care routine, knowing what your hair is made of gives you a better understanding of how to care for all of your hair, not just the visible parts. We’ll go over the fundamentals of hair anatomy below to help you care for your hair from the inside out.

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Why Do You Need To Know What The Hair Is Made Up Of?

You may simply be interested in learning more about the components of hair. A thorough understanding of the hair and the materials that make it up will benefit you in a variety of ways. This knowledge will come in handy if you want to take proper care of your hair. Knowing what your hair is made of will help you decide what foods to eat to improve the health of your tresses. Knowing what to avoid when it comes to hair products and treatments will also benefit you.

About The Human Hair

Hair is a fascinating subject. Hairs are found on most mammals and are beneficial in a variety of ways. Hair is not as noticeable in humans as it is in some closely related species. Our body’s hair is concentrated on our heads and certain parts of our bodies (pubic regions, especially). In fact, many people automatically think of the hair on their heads when we talk about hair. This is understandable, given that these are the hairs that are most visible on the body. They’re also the hairs that make women look better. Another unique feature of human hair is the way it grows. Hair on our heads can actually grow longer than hair on other animals’ heads.

hair bulb structure

What Is Human Hair Made Of?

Keratin is a protein found in human hair. Each strand of hair grows from a keratin-cell-based root at the base of the hair follicle. Amino acids molecules derived from our diet form the keratin that makes up the majority of our hair. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this protein can also be found in our fingernails, toenails, and skin (AAD).

Related: What is Virgin Hair?

Keratin and Hair

Human hair is primarily made up of keratin, as previously stated. Keratin is the same protein found in the skin, fingernails, and toenails. It’s a powerful protein that behaves differently depending on where it’s found in the body. Amino acid molecules linked by a cysteine disulphide bridge make up the keratin that makes up the majority of the hair (2). The amino acids that make up the proteins that make up the air come from the food we consume. This is why, when trying to grow hair, a person’s protein intake is critical.

two key components to your hair structure

There are two key components to your hair structure: the hair follicle and the hair shaft. While working together, each has a distinct role in the composition of your strands, as the National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI) explains.

The Hair Follicle

The hair follicle is the unseen part of the hair shaft. It’s the part of the body that lies beneath the skin. When a hair is pulled from the skin, we can see the bulb. The hair follicle, which is found in the dermis, houses stem cells. When a strand of hair falls out, this is the part of the hair that regrows it. The hair follicle can also help to regrow skin after a wound, according to Wikipedia. This is understandable given that keratin is also a component of the skin.

The Hair Shaft

The visible part of the hair is the hair shaft. It’s the hard filamentous part of the skin that protrudes above the surface. When we talk about hair and how it affects appearances, this is the part we’re most concerned about. Different people’s hair shafts differ in a variety of ways. Some people have curly hair, while others have straight hair or wavy hair. The shape of the hair shaft and the angle at which it grows out of the dermis determine this, which can be a genetic factor. People’s hair may appear to be different, but they are scientifically identical.

The Different Layers of the Hair Shaft

The Medullar

The innermost layer is made up of the sugar and amino acids, glycogen, and citrulline. This is a honeycomb-like core of the hair structure,. This unstructured innermost layer is also important in determining the overall condition of the hair.

The Cortex

This is a hard keratin layer that surround the medulla and therefore the mid layer in any strand of hair. It contains keratin bonds that aid in elasticity and melanocytes, special cells that produce melanin pigment that determines hair color.

The Cuticle

The outermost layer of the hair. It’s covered by a single molecular layer of lipids that repels water and gives hair its shine.

The Building Blocks of Hair

It’s worth noting at this point that each of your skin’s hair follicles is connected to a blood supply. The blood provides the nutrients required for the formation of new hair cells. Protein is the most important nutrient for cell growth, but it is far from the only one. Per an NCBI study, these nutrients are important building blocks for keratin protein and a key part of making sure our hair is thick, healthy, and strong.


Biotin is a form of vitamin B. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is variously referred to as vitamin B7 or “vitamin H”. Biotin metabolizes amino acids from foods which helps keratin form in hair and is one of the most popular purported vitamins for hair according to the National Institutes of Health.


Iron supports hair growth because it helps to form red blood cells that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles. Hair loss is often a symptom of iron deficiency anemia.

Vitamin C

Another important vitamin that aids in the formation of hair cells and, as a result, hair growth, is vitamin C. It is an important vitamin that aids in the absorption of iron by the body. Iron is also important in the formation of hair cells and hair growth, as previously mentioned. Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant in addition to promoting iron absorption. This property of the vitamin aids in the protection of hair follicles from free radicals, which can cause a variety of problems.


This is another vitamin B that plays significant role in hair growth. It is particularly referred to as vitamin B3 and is helpful in repairing the DNA in hair follicles. The DNA is important in giving the cells of the hair follicles instructions. The instructions are necessary for the hair follicles to function properly and facilitate hair growth.


This is another nutrient that help in facilitating the formation of new hair cells. Zinc supports DNA production and as has been described earlier, the DNA delivers the right instructions that facilitates hair cell formation and hair growth on the long run. In addition to this, zinc can also help to balance hormones in the body. Unbalanced hormone can always result to hair loss. Lack of zinc in the body will always result to deterioration of the protein structure of the hair and this can cause shedding.

How the Hair Grows

It’s worth mentioning again that protein makes up the majority of the hair. The most important of these proteins has also been mentioned: keratin. It is critical to discuss how hair grows in order to gain a better understanding of the other small components of human hair.

Hair follicles are the source of hair growth. Hair follicles are the parts of the hair that are embedded beneath the skin, as previously stated. The portion of the hair strand that is in the follicle is known as the root hair. Growth takes place in this area of the hair. When nutrients are converted to hair cells, growth occurs. The cells are attached to the follicle as they are formed, and the older cells are pushed outward to lengthen the hair strand. This means that the newest hair strands that you can see are those that are close to your scalp or the skin of the body part where the hair is growing. They are the keratinized parts of the root hair.

Related: What is Remy Hair?


When hair is pushed up from the hair follicle, it undergoes keratinization. The procedure is required in order for the hair to appear as it should when it emerges from the dermis. As hair cells form deep within the skin, the process ensures that they are properly filled with fibrous protein (keratin) as they are pushed outward. They also lose their nucleus during this process, and when they finally emerge from the skin, they will be in the form that we see them in: interwoven protein-rich fibers that help to complete our appearance.

hair bulb melanocytes and keratinocytes

The role of melanocytes and keratinocytes

Melanin is also present in the hair cortex. The pigment that gives hair its color is called melanin, which is produced by specialized cells called melanocytes. The melanocytes, which are located close to the hair bulb, inject pigments into the keratinocytes of the new hair shaft. The color remains from the beginning of the hair cycle until the point at which the hair falls out.

3 ethno-hair profiles

The 3 ethno-hair profiles

There are 3 “original” ethno-hair profiles, each with unique traits including color, texture, structure, and even scalp implantation. People of various ethnic backgrounds have different hair growth patterns and rates as a result of these variations.

Asian Hair

Asian women typically have straight, dark brown or black hair. It develops parallel to the scalp. With a growth rate of roughly 1.4 centimeters per month, this hair type has the fastest rate of growth. Asian hair has a somewhat rounded, uniform shape. Asians have the least dense hair of the three ethnic groups, though.

European Hair

Straight, wavy, or curly hair are all possible for Caucasians. Its hue can range from light brown to blonde. This hair type grows at a rate of roughly 1.2 centimeters per month, diagonally. The shape of Caucasian hair strands is oval. The most dense and fullest hair of the three ethnic groups is that of Caucasians.

African Hair

African hair typically has tight curls and kinks and develops almost perpendicular to the scalp. Due to its spiral structure, which causes it to curl back on itself during growth, this hair type has the slowest growth rate, measuring only 0.9 centimeters per month. The shape of an African hair strand is flattened. Asian hair is significantly less dense than African hair.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hair

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.

Hair is made of a tough protein called keratin. A hair follicle anchors each hair into the skin. The hair bulb forms the base of the hair follicle. In the hair bulb, living cells divide and grow to build the hair shaft.

The most important function of hair in mammals is that of insulating against cold by conserving body heat. The differing colours and colour patterns in hair coats can also serve purposes of camouflage and of sexual recognition and attraction among the members of a species.

Hair grows by forming new cells at the base of the root. These cells multiply to form a rod of tissue in the skin. The rods of cells move upward through the skin as new cells form beneath them. As they move up, they’re cut off from their supply of nourishment and start to form a hard protein called keratin.

The hair follicle at the base of human hairs contains cellular material rich in DNA. In order to be used for DNA analysis, the hair must have been pulled from the body — hairs that have been broken off do not contain DNA. Any body tissue that has not been degraded is a potential source of DNA.

Trichophagia is characterized by the person eating hair, usually their own; primarily after pulling it out. Most often, hair is pulled out and then the ends of the root bulb are eaten, or occasionally the hair shaft itself.

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