How does hair grow?
Each hair filament originates in a deep pouch-like
depression of the epidermis, called a hair follicle, which penetrates
into the dermis. The root of the hair extends down into the hair follicle
and widens into an indented bulb at its base. Extending into the indentation
is the papilla, the center of hair growth, which contains the capillaries
and nerves that supply the hair. Newly dividing cells at the base of
the hair multiply, forcing the cells above them upward. As the cells
move upward, they gradually die and harden into the hair shaft. The
hair shaft has two layers, the cuticle and the cortex. The cuticle (outer
layer) consists of flat, colorless overlapping cells; below the cuticle
is the cortex, containing pigment and a tough protein called keratin;
it forms the bulk of the hair shaft.
Coarse hair, such as that of the scalp, contains an additional inner
core called the medulla. Hair is lubricated by sebaceous glands that
are located in the hair follicle. Illness or stress may lessen the secretion
of pigment, which normally gives color to hair, and cause the hair shaft
to whiten. However, the normal process of whitening that comes with
age is determined by heredity. In humans, scalp hairs are generally
shed every two to four years, while body hairs are shed more frequently.
Straight-textured hair, round in cross section, is common among Native
Americans, Eskimos, and Mongoloid peoples. Kinky or woolly hair, flat
in cross section, prevails among the dark peoples of Africa, Australia,
and elsewhere. Wavy or curly hair, common among Caucasians, is oval
in cross section. The color of hair is determined by the amount of pigment
and air spaces in the cortex and medulla. Hair color and texture are
How fast does hair grow?
Human hair seems to grow at a pretty consistent rate of about half a millimeter or so per day, or about half an inch every month. It may grow faster, or slower depending on your age, your genetics, your nutritional and your hormonal state (pregnancy seems to have an affect on hair), but half a millimeter per day is a good average.