What Is Hair?

What Is Hair?

Magically emerging out of our scalps are beautiful complex hair strands. These strands are created in our hair follicles, a tiny sac-like hole in our skin. At the bottom of each of these follicles is a cluster of special cells that reproduce to make new hair cells. The cells add to the root and cause the hair strand to grow longer.


The shaft, the part of the hair that you see, is made of cells that aren’t living anymore. Unlike skin cells, hair strands do not have the ability to heal. This is why chemical and environmental exposure can be so damaging to the hair. Once a hair strand leaves the surface of the skin, it is our job to create the healthiest environment for long, healthy, shiny tresses. Over-processing with hair color, over washing with harsh shampoos or even over-styling with heat can deteriorate the strands.

Each hair shaft is made up of 2-3 layers: the cuticle, cortex and sometimes a medulla.

THE CUTICLE is the exterior layer made up of flat cells that lay in the same direction going down the hair strand, similar to scales on snakes. These translucent cuticles vary in amount per strand, and are meant to protect and smooth the cortex.

THE CORTEX is made of long proteins that twist, giving strength, shape and color to the hair stand. The coiled proteins are what we are altering when we blow dry or flat iron our hair. Among the coiled proteins you will find pigment, that is what gives our hair its natural color.

THE MEDULLA is only present in thicker hair types, and is the innermost layer of the hair shaft. This nearly invisible layer is the most soft and fragile, and serves as the pith or marrow of the hair. Scientists are still uncertain about the exact role of the medulla, but they speculate that it is primarily an extension that is more prominent in depigmented (grey or white) hair.

To test the strength of our hair you can do an “Elasticity Test”. This can be done by taking a single hair and pulling gently from both ends. If your hair breaks, you need to increase the interior strength, which is best helped with vitamins and mineral supplementation.

We of course recommend Not Today, Grey as it is filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for better hair. If your hair recoils and has frizziness, you will want to add a conditioner to the hair strand to help close and smooth the cuticle.

For the shiniest, most flexible hair stand, our bodies produce a natural hair conditioner called sebum. The sebaceous glands are adjacent to the follicle and help fill-in gaps in the cuticle and smooth the strands. Often sebum leads to a build up of oil at the scalp. The best way to manage natural oil build up is daily hair brushing and minimal shampooing. The more we can support the sebum, the healthier, shinier and fuller our hair will feel.

To The Root can help nourish your scalp and balance your sebum to help with thicker, shinier and healthier hair.