We lament it on our bodies but want it on our heads. It comes in many different colors and styles. We cut it, tease it, and dye it. It holds an important place in certain cultures and religions. Today we are talking about hair.
It’s made of protein.
That’s right, hair is made up of proteins. About 95% of this protein is keratin. This is the same material that makes up finger and toenails, among other body parts.
Hair follicles age like the rest of you.
As this happens, the follicles produce less color than they used to. This means when they go through their natural cycle of hair replacement and regrowth, the hair may grow back in gray or white. Some people say that stress plays a role in the graying of hair, but it is more likely genetics that will determine how gray you will be as you age.
Hair color is genetic.
The color of your hair is usually determined by your immediate family. If your parents have brown hair, you are likely to be brown-haired as well. This is because certain genes control the amount and types of melanin that your hair produces, which determines the color. A certain type of melanin called eumelanin determines if your hair will be black, brown, or blond, while another type of the substance known as pheomelanin will make you a redhead.
The permanent wave machine has an interesting history.
This invention used electric current passing through wires and clips to heat the hair, which could then be either straightened or curled. It was invented by hairdresser Marjorie Joyner and patented in 1927. Marjorie became the first African American woman to hold a patent.
There are a lot of misconceptions concerning redheads.
Yes, there are some rather strange beliefs surrounding these fiery-headed folks. Some believe that redheads are all witches, that they are bad luck, that they turn into vampires when they die, or that they have no souls. Whether you believe in vampires, souls, or witches, these are all pure myths. It is also untrue that redheads are going extinct. In the country of Ireland alone, about 40% of the population holds the gene for red hair, which is quite a large number of people.
Blonds are not going extinct.
This is an old myth that my grandmother wholeheartedly believed. She was always telling me that blue-eyed blonds were rare and that I needed to marry a blue-eyed blond to keep up the genetic stock. Or some other such nonsense. The myth was revived in the twenty-first century by a series of news articles where the journalists didn’t bother to check their sources before releasing them. According to the articles, a WHO study claimed that the last blond would be born in 2202. However, this study doesn’t exist and the source was traced back to some obscure German fashion magazine that was obviously adding a twist to the old myth my grandmother believed. Blonds aren’t going anywhere in the near future.
Hirsutism is a hair growth condition affecting women.
Hirsutism is a condition that causes women to grow hair on their backs, faces, and chests just like a man. It is caused by many conditions, including polycystic ovarian syndrome, Cushing syndrome, certain medications, and just plain genetics. It is not the same as the condition affecting circus performer Julia Pastrana. That was a condition called hypertrichosis, which causes hair to grow all over the body and affects both men and women.
Male pattern baldness coming through the mother’s line is a myth, sort of.
Yes, this myth is actually somewhat true, you can inherit male pattern baldness from your maternal grandfather. However, it is much more complicated than you’d imagine. You see, this baldness is caused by more than one gene. There are actually sixty-three related genes, and only six of those are passed along the X chromosome. Also, 80% of bald men have a bald dad. So you can get it from either side.
A Chinese woman holds the record for longest hair in the world.
Xie Qiuping’s hair has been measured at eighteen feet, five inches. This is over five meters long and, according to the Guinness World Records, is almost as long as a male giraffe’s neck. She started growing her hair in 1973 and had not cut it since it was measured in 2004. The record still holds today.
Some religious beliefs are related to hair.
Sikhs do not cut their head hair or shave their body hair. This is considered a sign of commitment and acceptance of God’s will. On the opposite side of the scale are certain Buddhist monks and nuns, who shave their heads every day. This procedure, called tonsure, is an important part of becoming a monk or nun. It is seen as a sign of faith and the throwing away of societal expectations.
I don’t have a specific hair color. It could be blond or brown, and at certain angles it is red or, alas, streaked with gray or silver. I think I got my dad’s hair, which means it’ll start graying in my mid-forties. Whatever the case, I don’t complain that it’s light enough to dye various colors. It was even purple once. Hair can be fun, depending on what you do with it. So go out there and get creative!
Activelong Paris- www.activelong.com
Harvard Medical School- www.harvard.edu
Medline Plus- www.medlineplus.gov
Gouverneur Museum- www.gouverneurmuseum.com
How To Be a Redhead- www.howtobearedhead.com
Mayo Clinic- www.mayoclinic.org
Guinness World Records- www.guinnessworldrecords.com
Head Blade- www.headblade.com