It’s long, it’s short, it’s curly, it’s straight. Let’s not even talk about all the different colors. But have you ever thought about the science of your hair?
First of all, the stunning hair on your scalp? It’s actually a structure of dead cells and proteins, all layered up in a way that makes them overlap in a single direction. This, and the fact that the bonds between the atoms that make up your hair are very strong, is why hair is usually one of the last parts of a body to decay. To elaborate on keratin – it is made up of covalent sulphur-to-sulphur bonds, which are the cause of the infamous stench of burned hair.
The only part of your hair that is alive is the follicle, the part that hides beneath your skin. At the base of each follicle there is a hair bulb, in which living cells divide to create the shaft of the hair. Throughout our lives our hair is altered by hormones transported through the blood vessels that nourish the bulb. The shape of your follicles is also responsible for the structure of your mane. Curly hair has a rather oval and elongated shape, while straight hair forms a perfect circle.
Another fun fact? It’s the reason why hair products are thriving. Many of us have been unhappy with the color of our hair once or twice before. But don’t worry; nobody cursed you with that “boring” brown or “dirty” blonde hair. The color of your hair is actually determined by a pigment called melanin. There are two different kinds of melanin, eumelanin and pheumelanin. The more eumelanin you inherit, the darker your hair will be. All of this is pretty random, since you will get four of these genes from your mother and four from your father. Of course, they aren’t selected either, so you will simply inherit half of your parents genes by chance. This is why children sometimes have a different hair color than their parents, but possibly the same one as other relatives.
Lastly, allow me to destroy some of childhood. Rapunzel, our beloved princess, is famous for her incredibly long hair. We all know the story. She lets down those beautiful golden locks and whoops, suddenly the prince, or, unfortunately the evil Gothel, climbs up the tower. But considering the fact, that Rapunzel was only eighteen, her hair couldn’t have been much longer than 234 centimeters (288, if she was of Asian origin). Now, I’m not sure what kind of tower that was, but she probably could have just hopped down and landed quite happily in some nice, soft, fairytale grass. Then again, her abductor is an evil witch, so everything kind of goes.