Just the “Hairy” Facts

kids-hair-heart-pigtailsHumans have hair, and so do some animals. But how much do we really know about hair?

We know we can cut it, style it and change its color. However, to know more about hair, we have to start at the beginning.

Let’s explore just the hairy facts.

It’s a Cell!

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As most living things do, a hair starts out as a cell. The cell lives inside a small tube-like pit buried in your skin called, a follicle (fol-il-cle). It is surrounded by nerves and is constantly being fed by nourishing blood.

As the cell matures, it divides and is slowly pushed up by younger cells beneath it. While all this pushing and shoving is taking place, a tough protein called keratin (ker-a-tin) joins in. This hardens the cells. It then emerges from the skin as a hair.

Tired Hair

scissors2Once the hair is poking out of your body, the hair shaft is so far away from the blood supply it is already dead. As gross as that may sound it is actually a good thing. It means pain-free haircuts.

When your follicles become tired, and they do, your hair falls out. In fact, we lose between 40 and a 100 hairs a day. But don’t worry, you still have about 5 million hairs all over your entire body.

What’s Your Follicle Shape?

Did you know follicles are also in charge of what kind of hair you have? If your hair is downloadcurly, your follicles will be rectangular. Wavy hair sprouts from oval ones and round follicles will give you straight hair.

Fun Fact…Chimpanzees also have hair follicles, and it is the same amount as humans.

Baby Beards

Did you know babies have beards before they are born?  A soft, colorless hair called, lanugo (luh-noo-goh) grows on most of its body starting on the face. Then about a month before the baby is born, it all falls out.

Sometimes adults can have this type of facial hair as well.

Now That’s Hair Raising!

Want to know more about your hair? Check out these hair-raising facts;

  • Hair is made up of 50 percent carbon, 21 percent oxygen, 17 percent nitrogen, 6 percent hydrogen, and 5 percent sulphur.
  • Hair is a natural sponge. In fact, it was used during the 2007 Cusco Busan oil spill in the San Francisco Bay to absorb oil from the water.
  • Black hair is the most common color in the world. Red hair exists in only 1% of the population.
  • Our hair can expand up to 30% when it’s wet.
  • Hair is the fastest growing tissue (next to bone marrow) in our bodies.
  • Our hair can tell a lot about us like what vitamins and medicines we take.
  • In Ancient Rome, women used to dye their hair blonde using pigeon poop.

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Who knew there was so much to know about hair? Share what you’ve learned here today with your family and friends…you might just give them a “hair-raising”  experience!

Categories: Science

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