Hair Under The Microscope
Hair shapes human physical appearances. It became a feature that people are obsessed with and are willing to put in effort and money to enhance it. Salons are appearing like mushrooms after rain in every corner in the country. Uncountable individuals are making a living by becoming barber, hairdresser and hair specialists. A lot of people are doing sales for hair products too. Hair products just keep on increasing since there is an ever-growing market for these products. Although people generally spend a lot of time caring and grooming their hair, not many of them are aware of the true image of hair under the microscope.
Figure 1 The image of a hair shaft enlarged under an electron microscope.
Typical human hair consists of the follicle and a shaft. A follicle or fondly known as the hair bulb is a structure beneath the skin of actively growing cells which eventually produce hair (hair shaft). Cells continually divide in the lower part of the bulb. The rapid divisions of cells at the base of the follicle pushed upward forming hair shaft as they harden and undergo pigmentation. The shaft are dead tissues protruding above the skin and composed of three layers, namely the medulla, cortex and the cuticle.
Figure 2 The cross-section showing three main components of a hair shaft.
Cuticle is the transparent outermost layer. It’s made of scales that overlap each other with the free ends of the scales directed toward the tip of the shaft. The scaly cuticle is to protect the inner layers of the hair. This delicate protective layer minimizes the movement of water in and out of the underlying cortex as well as holding the whole hair structure together. In a healthy condition, the cuticle will be smooth, shiny and intact. However, prolonged exposure to chemical, pollutions and harsh weather can lift the cuticle and disrupt this balance.
As shown in the pictures above, when the cuticle layer is perfectly closed, hair looks glossy and doesn’t tend to tangle or break. When a cuticle scales are raised or wide open, the scaly hair strands will rub against each other causing tangles. To avoid this, we should protect hair under harsh weather by wearing hats or using umbrellas, we should avoid chemical ingredients in hair care and we should minimize the usage of hot styling tools, and other product or treatments that is harmful to the hair.
The layer just beneath the cuticle is the cortex which is also the largest part of the hair shaft, forms the main bulk of hair. The cortex consists of long keratin filaments and consisted of compact, elongated cells and it is the part of the hair that contains pigment granules that give hair its colour. Pigment distribution varies from shaft to shaft, which sometimes causes uneven hair colour distribution. The health of the cortex depends largely on the integrity of the cuticle protecting it.
The central core of a hair shaft is the medulla but this component is not always present, especially in hairs with a thinner diameter. If present, it consists of a thin core of transparent cells and composed largely of air spaces as it often appears to be a hollow tube. However, this hollow tube could be filled with cells in fragmented form, continuous or even double. The medulla can contain pigment granules or unpigmented.
Using a single hair shaft, forensic scientist could find out many information of an individual including collecting DNA for identification purpose, testing for drugs or nutritional deficiencies in their body system.
Since we know aware of how hair under the microscope looks like. It is easier to illustrate the mechanism of hair keratin fibres that that is popularly used to enhance the cosmetic value of hair. The premium keratin in Toppik Hair Fibres is nearly identical to human hair, allowing the fibres to blend naturally and undetectably. The natural Keratin used by Toppik has an innate static charge that ensures their fibres adhere to each hair shaft regardless of any hair type. Toppik’s innovative technology allows the fibers to resist wind, rain and perspiration while filling in all the thinning area and balding spots on the head.
If you are interested to purchase or to learn more about Toppik products, do feel free to log on www.toppikmalaysia.com/shop to get your hands on the best product for your hair.
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