Hair: The Long and The Short of It

From basic care and styling to hair loss and going gray, we’ve got the lowdown on your locks

iStock
A strand of hair is a complex nonliving structure, containing about 95 percent protein (called keratin, also the building block of fingernails), plus some pigment (melanin) and fats. The thin outer cells of a strand are called the cuticle—a layer of tiny flaps, like scales. Inside the strand are tinier strands called fibrils. The geometry […]

Related Articles

  • January 15, 2020

    The most widespread form of hair loss (androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern hair loss) is determined by age and genetics and is not preventable or curable. But there are some treatment options: Minoxidil. Originally developed as an oral blood pressure drug, minoxidil (Rogaine and generics) stimulated hair growth as a side […]

  • September 1, 2020

    Q. My hair seems to be coming out by the handful these days. What might be causing that? Could it be stress? This sounds like a condition medically termed telogen effluvium (and sometimes called stress-induced alopecia), which is different from hereditary male or female pattern hair loss or alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition that causes […]

  • January 15, 2020

    Graying of hair (scientifically known as canities) has genetic roots but affects nearly everyone who lives long enough. It’s been blamed on all sorts of things, including “paroxysms of rage, unexpected and unwelcome news, habitual headaches, overindulgence in sexual appetite, and anxiety,” according to an early 19th-century French dermatologist. What makes hair turn gray? Graying […]

  • February 1, 2020

    Q. Do hair dyes cause cancer? The scientific evidence to date is inconsistent and thus inconclusive regarding cancer risk in people who regularly dye their hair. Some observational studies have shown links to a slightly increased risk of lymphoma, for instance, and to breast cancer, but others have not. Most recently, a study in BMJ […]