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References :

Matter :

The hair fiber is an extremely stable structure that can resist breakdown thousands of years after a persons
death. About 50100 microns in diameter, it consists of a 3 main layers - cuticle, cortex and medulla. The cortex
provides the majority of hair fiber mass and is responsible for its strength. It is made of elongated cells, tightly
packed together. These cells are composed of long filaments, or microfibrils, which contain rods of keratin
embedded in an amorphous matrix. These proteins are remarkable for a proportionately high level of the
intermolecular cross-linked amino acid, cystine, the disulfide bonds of which give hair its great tensile strength.
Other protein intermolecular bonds, such as salt bonds and hydrogen bonds also exist in keratins. The hair
cortex is covered by an external cuticle, which accounts for 10% of the hair fibers weight. The cuticle consists of
overlapping layers of scales, each about 0.5 micron thick. In a newly formed human hair, up to 10 scales can
overlap in one cross-section. The cuticular scales protect the underlying cortex and act as a barrier. When the
scales are intact, their smooth surface reflects light, so the hair looks shiny and healthy. Finally, the medulla
consists of specialized cells that contain air spaces. Only thick terminal hairs have a medulla, which may be

Biochemical structure of the hair structure: 1 - hair cuticula (scales); 2 - hair cortex; 3 - hair cortex
fiber (fibril); 4 - hair cortex fiber's mikrofiber (microfibril) bundle; 5 - hair cortex fibers starting
mikrofiber (microfibril); 6 - hair cortex mikrofiber initial fiber (protofibril) 7 - the original protein spiral fibril; 8 -
amino acids, 9 - atoms.

Only 3 percent of the hair consists of water, the remaining 97 percent is a proteinous material called keratin,
containing of iron, copper, zinc, chromium, permanganate, sulfur and other trace elements and also vitamins A,
B, C, T and P. Therefore healthy hair require to get enough protein with food. Keratin is formed of resistant to
wear long compressed protein molecules with a regular structure which is sufficiently strong and flexible. These
large protein molecules are made of significantly smaller highly concentrated xhained specific amino acid
molecules. Hair keratin consists of nineteen amino acids. When amino acids are bonded in a healthy hair state,
they form a polypeptide chain. One of the amino acids - Cysteine - is cross-linked with disulfide. These disulfide
links provide keratin with a space for the structure (shape) and are responsible for hair elasticity. Disulphide
link disruptions (chemical hair alterations - perming, straightening, coloring, etc.) reduce hair elasticity and
allow hair to change their shape.

Chemical composition of the hair structure formula shows as C-O-N-H-S. The names of these chemical
elements and their average percentages are: C - Carbon - 49.6%, O - Oxygen - 23.2%, N - Nitrogen -
16.8%, H - Hydrogen - 6.4%, S - Sulfur - 4.0%. Besides hair has some magnesia, arsenic, iron, phosphorus,
chromium and other metals and minerals.

Hair keratin amino acids names and their percentages: Cysteine - 17.5%, Serine - 11.7%, Glutamic acid -
11.1%, Threonine - 6.9%, Glycine - 6.5%, Leucine - 6.1 %, Valine - 5.9%, Arginine - 5.6%, Aspartic
acid - 5.0%, Alamine - 4.8%, Proline - 3.6%, Isoleucine - 2.7% Tyrosine - 1.9 % Phenylanine -
1.4%, Histidine - 0.8%, Methionine - 0.5%.

Hair natural color depends on their chemical composition. Darker hair contain more carbohydrates and less
oxygen, blonder hair have more oxygen than carbohydrates. For example medium-dark hair have up to 50.65
percent of carbohydrates, 6.36 percent of hydrogen, 17.14 percent of nitrogen, 5.0 percent of sulfur and 20.85
percent of oxygen. Hair molecules are bounded up to the zigzag chains of molecules. These molecular chains are
very close each others and form tiny fibers called miceles, that create fibrous elongated form cells. Molecular
chains inter-connect with micels due to the sulfur bridges. These chemical elements create "keratin" and
"protein". Besides hair contain a certain amount of fatty substances, cholesterol, mineral compounds and arsenic.
Keratin is a highly viscous and elastic protein that stimulates the hair cell hardening. The pigment contained in
hair is called melanin. It is a protein complex combinations (triptofan, pirol, etc.). This pigment protein contains
nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen and a small amount of iron and arsenic. Melanin component concentration
ratio determines each unique human hair color.

Nice question. I must say it took me many hours to get satisfactory answer.

Hair are made of keratin molecules, which contain cysteine. Cysteine has thiol (-SH)
group, by which it can form disulfide (-S-S-) bond with another cysteine of another
keratin, causing bending of hair. See this image from here:

Curling of hair can be justified on both microscopic and macroscopic level.

1. Microscopic level: See this post from here:

Curly hair has to do with the chemical bonds in the protein that makes up hair - -keratin.
Keratins, particularly -keratin, have long sequences of amino acids (often more than 300)
which forms a helical structure.
Pairs of these helical structures then coil about each other in a left-hand coiled-coil structure.
These are then attracted to another coiled coil so two keratin helices will stick together. These
four-chain structures then associates with another four-chain structure to form the hair filament.
One of the amino acids which make up these chains, is cysteine which has a sulpher group which
is able to make connections with other sulpher groups on other coiled coils.
The more interactions a filament has with another filament, the more tightly coiled the coiled-coil
becomes. Hence, curly hair has more interactions than straight hair. The process of `perming' hair
introduces more accessibility of the sulpher on the amino acid, cysteine, to make these
connections. Finger and toe nails have many many bonds between filaments and are thus, very
For example, see how hairs are curled artificially via perming.
This change in location of bonds is what causes curling of the hair (look again at the first
diagram and notice the orientation of disulfide bridges). Those vertical strands now get
curled due to change in these bonds. Here, the required mechanical tension for bending
is provided artificially.

2. Macroscopic level: Shape of hairs is also determined by its macroscopic structure. Look
at this article:
All hair, whether curly or straight, has two major components: the shaft and the follicle. The
shafts are the visible, flowing strands that we see on our heads. The follicle is the part of our hair
that resides within the skin, or dermis, of our scalp. Each of these structures plays a role in
determining our overall hair shape.

Lets start at the root of the issue (pun 100 percent intended): the follicle. It turns out that the
shape of our follicles is a major determinant of our hair texture. If you were to look at the follicle
of straight hair, you would find it is perfectly round. The follicle of curly hair adopts an oval
shape. The flatter the oval is, the curlier the hair will be.

Another contributing factor to a hairs curl is the way the follicle tunnels into the scalp. Follicles
of straight hair tunnel vertically down from the skins surface into the dermis. If the follicle
angles into the dermis then the hair will curve as it grows causing it curl. Although, this curving
of the follicle can lead to gorgeous curls it causes one major drawback that all curly-haired
persons can attest to, dryness. Within the dermis, special glands line the follicle to secrete oil,
called sebum, to lubricate the hair. Unfortunately, when follicles curve sebum isnt able to travel
the length of the hair as well leading to dryness of hair that doesnt get lubricated.
Although how shape of follicle determines structure of hair strand is probably not known,
the major contributing factor likely is how hair emerges from the scalp. When it emerges
in a bent shape, it faces a lot of tension from the scalp, which causes it to bend in the
shape of the follicle to form curls. Since straight-emerging strands don't face such
forces, they do not lead to curled hairs.

In this way, hair curls are a consequence of large number of disulfide bridges between
keratin molecules and how the hair emerges from the scalp.

Biochemical mechanisms regulating human hair


The human hair follicle cycles in active growth and resting phases controlled by a complex network of
biochemical processes, yet to be fully understood. It is well known that hair follicles on scalp respond
to androgens by a shortening of the anagen growth phase causing hairs to regress to a finer, thinner
texture. The target tissue androgens, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone can circulate systemically
to skin or can be formed locally in hair follicles and sebaceous glands by specific enzymes in the
steroid cascade. Kinetic constants have been evaluated for several enzymes which mediate
dihydrotestosterone formation, including 5a-reductase, and the cytochrome P-450 aromatase enzyme
in isolated human hair follicles and sebaceous glands from scalp of men and women with
androgenetic alopecia. The levels of these enzymes differed between men and women, and from
frontal versus occipital sites within the same patient, indicating that similar steroid mechanisms may
be taking place in men and women, but the amount or level of enzymes vary, perhaps explaining why
men have more severe patterns of hair loss than women. Knowing the differences between men and
women with androgenetic alopecia could shape more effective treatment options in the future.

Vitamins That Help With Hair Growth

Fig. Vit. E containing diets

Loss of hair, or baldness, is the result of not having enough vitamin B supplements.
Vitamin B is very important, as it contains B3 niacin, which is very important for growing
hair. Vitamin B6 is another important vitamin, containing nutrients such as sulfur, biotin,
magnesium, and zinc. Without these vitamins, your body

wont be able to grow hair as much, which commonly results in balding or hair loss as we
get older.

What many people fail to realize, is the importance of vitamin B. Research has shown in
the past that vitamin B is very important to hair growth. Men who consume foods that are
rich in vitamin B are less likely to experience hair loss. Vitamin B is an essential vitamin,
and also one that enriches the overall quality and thickness of hair.

Vitamin A is also important with hair growth. To get the proper amount of vitamin A, you
should consume fatty acids. Some examples include flaxseed oil, primrose, and salmon oil.
If you consume these types of fatty acids, youll get the right amount of vitamin A that is
needed to enhance the growth of your hair. If you are worried about hair loss, you should
make sure that you are getting enough vitamin A and vitamin B.

Vitamin E is also important for hair growth, as it stimulates your intake of oxygen and
helps to improve your blood circulation as well. If your blood is circulating properly, then
the growth of your hair will be enhanced. The proper circulation of blood is very
important with hair growth, as the blood is what helps your hair to grow, and the
necessary vitamins to flow through your body.

Another necessary vitamin for hair growth is biotin. You can find this essential source in
rice, green peas, soybeans, oats, yeast, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. It is also found with
some types of shampoos as well. If you are using shampoo that contains biotin, youll be
getting into your root tips faster, which will help to promote the growth of your hair. Even
though you may be using shampoo that contains biotin, youll still need to take the
necessary vitamins and supplements as well.

Before you take any vitamins or supplements, you should always consult with your doctor
and get his opinion. There may be some vitamins and supplements that you shouldnt be
taking, which is why you should always consult with your doctor before you make any
decision. Your doctor will be able to run tests and go through your history with you,
letting you know what you can and cant take. This way, you can choose your vitamin
supplements accordingly and know without a doubt that there will be no long term side
effects or problems.

Hair color - biochemistry

In humans, all the different hair colors are due to just two types of pigment
(melanin) called eumelanins and pheomelanins (European spelling, phaeomelanin).
Eumelanins are the dark brown and black pigments while pheomelanins are the red
and blonde pigments. The different colors of hair in different people are due to a
combination of these two different basic biochemical structures. By mixing the two
types together in different concentrations the many different shades of hair color
are made.

Eumelanins are very strong, stable proteins made from tyrosine. The large
eumelanin biochemical structure is formed by processing the amino acid tyrosine
into dopa and dopamine and connecting several of these molecules together to
form eumelanin. The key enzyme in this process is tyrosinase. The more tyrosinase
activity the more eumelanin is formed. This is one method by which different
people have different shades of brown to black hair color. More tyrosinase activity
results in more pigment production and so a darker hair color. As we get older,
tyrosinase activity increases. It is most active in middle age and thereafter
tyrosinase activity decreases. There are also other biochemical mechanisms by
which the shade of hair color is regulated. Several factors interact with tyrosinase
to help regulate eumelanin production. In addition, another key limiting factor in
hair color is the availability of the raw tyrosine ingredient. A lack of tyrosine
availability means the tyrosinase enzyme make eumelanin at full capacity.

Pheomelanins are also made from the same tyrosine as eumelanins and the process
is much the same with tyrosinase playing a key role. Pheomelanins are produced
when an intermediate product in the eumelanin production pathway interacts with
the amino acid cysteine. This results in the formation of a pheomelanin molecule
which contains sulfur from the cysteine. These molecules are yellow to orange in
color. So this is another way by which different shades of hair color can be
produced. The more interaction there is between dopaquinone and cysteine the
more yellow and orange pigments are produced.

Thus those people with darker hair have relatively more eumelanin production.
People with true red hair produce more pheomelanin. The pathway to eumelanin
formation is largely inhibited. Because people with red hair are less able to make
the dark eumelanin pigment their skin is generally quite pale and burns easily with
sun exposure. A study that analyzed the amount of eumelanin and pheomelanin in
human hair suggested that; black hair contains approximately 99% eumelanin and
1% pheomelanin, brown and blond hair contain 95% eumelanin and 5%
pheomelanin; and red hair contains 67% eumelanin and 33% pheomelanin (Borges
2001). Although people with dark hair may still produce the yellow - orange
pheomelanin, it is largely masked by the dark eumelanin pigment and we cannot
see much of it. However, the red - yellow pheomelanin is believed to cause the
warm, golden, or auburn tones found in some types of brown hair.