Hair's Lookin' at Ya...
by Dr. Rebecca L. Euwer, MD.
Ever wonder why some people have curly hair and others have straight hair? Both the shape of a hair shaft’s cross section and the curvature of the hair follicles in the skin determine whether a person’s hair is curly or straight.
If you cut a hair in two and examine its end under a microscope, a straight hair would have a round or oval shape. A curly hair would have a flat, almost ribbon-like shape to the hair shaft.
Dr. Rebecca L. Euwer
University Park, TX
Dr. Rebecca L. Euwer is a clinical associate pro- fessor at UT South- western Medical Center, Dallas, TX. She has been listed in "Best Doctors in America" in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005; America's Top Physicians, 2004-2005 edition; DMagazine's "Best Doctors in Dallas" in 1999 and 2001; Leaders Society by the Dermatology Foundation 1995-1999. Received the Physician's Recognition Award by the Amercian Medical Association in 2001 and the Outstanding Teacher Award from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 2000-2001.
In people with straight hair, the hair follicle in the skin is also straight while those with curly hair often have a marked curve to the shape of their hair follicles.
You can force your hair to curl or straighten by using special solutions on it. The hair shaft is made up of a bundle of protein fibers “tied” together by chemical bonds.
When you get a “permanent” at the hairdressers, the solutions used on the wet hair first break down these chemical bonds. Then, a neutralizing solution re-establishes the bonds in the desired curve shape when the hair is rolled up in curlers and heat is applied.
Forcing your hair to straighten or curl is damaging to the hair. Repeated treatments to the hair can cause enough damage to make the hair fray, split and break. You should use such methods cautiously.
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