Understanding the Hair Shaft

Understanding the Hair Shaft

Each strand of hair is made up of three components:

  1. Cuticle
  2. Cortex
  3. Medulla

The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair shaft consisting of overlapping scale-like cells much like the shingles on a roof. It acts as a protective barrier to the hair shaft protecting the hair from harmful chemicals and pollutants.

When you color, perm or chemically process hair, the hair swells raising the cuticle layer allowing liquids, chemicals etc. to penetrate through to the cortex. The cortex, regulates the water intake and release as well as determines the strength, elasticity and texture of the hair. It accounts for 90% of the weight of the hair and is the thickest layer. The changes involved in coloring hair or changing pigment, wet setting, thermal styling permanent waving and chemical hair relaxing all take place within the cortex.

If the cortex is damaged your hair will appear dry, fragile, weak and will break easily. Deep conditioning and regular treatments are necessary to strengthen the cortex.

The medulla is the innermost layer that is sometimes called the marrow of the hair shaft. The exact function of the medulla is mere speculation. The medulla is frequently broken or missing from the hair shaft in fine thin hair. Many suspect that genetics, poor health, diet and use of drugs have major effects on the medulla.

So when adding hair in the form of tape in extensions, bonded extensions or microlink extensions make sure that the hair has the cuticle intact to ensure the health of the cortex, allowing the hair to be healthy, shiny and full.

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