Hair: What is it?

Today I’m going to tell you about hair.
What is it exactly?

This is the description on Wikipedia: Hair is a filamentous biomaterial, that grows from follicles found in the dermis. Hair is one of the defining characteristics of mammals, but is also found in other animals.

They have a great technical description of what hair actually is…

Each strand of hair is made up of the medulla, cortex, and cuticle. The innermost region, the medulla, is not always present and is an open, unstructured region. The highly structural and organized cortex, or middle layer of the hair, is the primary source of mechanical strength and water uptake. The cortex contains melanin, which colors the fiber based on the number, distribution and types of melanin granules. The shape of the follicle determines the shape of the cortex, and the shape of the fiber is related to how straight or curly the hair is. Asian hair typically has a round fiber and is quite straight. Oval and irregularly-shaped fibers are generally more wavy or even curly. The cuticle is the outer covering. Its complex structure slides as the hair swells and is covered with a single molecular layer of lipid that makes the hair repel water. The diameter of human hair varies from 17 to 180 micrometers (0.00067 to 0.0071 in).
Hair growth begins inside the hair follicle. The only “living” portion of the hair is found in the follicle. The hair that is visible is the hair shaft, which exhibits no biochemical activity and is considered “dead”. The base of the root is called the bulb, which contains the cells that produce the hair shaft. Other structures of the hair follicle include the oil producing sebaceous gland which lubricates the hair and the erector pili muscles, which are responsible for causing hairs to stand up. In humans, with little body hair, the effect results in goose bumps.

The picture below shows an actual strand of hair magnified 200x.
The little cracks are the cuticle and this shows why we use conditioner, to keep this layer down and flat, creating healthier hair.

Here’s a little bit of interesting info about hair colour…

All natural hair colors are the result of two types of hair pigment. Both of these pigments are melanin types, produced inside the hair follicle and packed into granules found in the fibers. Eumelanin is the dominant pigment in dark-blond, brown, and black hair, while pheomelanin is dominant in red hair. Blond hair is the result of having little pigmentation in the hair strand. Gray hair occurs when melanin production decreases or stops.

Now you know a little more about hair and it’s makeup.
It is quite interesting to see how the human body works.

Chat soon,

Hair: Understanding Hair Colour Level and Tone

I coloured my own hair last week.
Being a hairdresser, I’m lucky I know what I’m doing.
It got me thinking…How do you choose colour for your own hair?
Do you stick to something similar to your own colour or go for something very different?
How do you choose it? Did it turn out how you expected?
Do you colour it yourself or go to a Hairdresser and ask for advice?

I found this fabulous article on About.com
It explains all about Colour Levels and Tones perfectly.
I thought I’d share it with you.

Have you ever heard your hair dresser talking about your hair color and wondered
 what planet she was living on? Hair color can be confusing. It’s typically a series of
numbers and letters that describe your hair’s color. Here are the very basics on hair color,
what your hair dresser knows, and how you can be more informed when speaking to your
stylist or choosing your next color.
First let’s define hair color. Hair color is the combined level and tone of a person’s hair.
You may also apply the chemical “hair color” to your hair to change you’re hair’s color.
In the beauty industry, we never refer to hair color as “hair dye”.
As one of my beauty school instructors once said, “You dye an Easter egg,
you don’t dye your hair.”

Hair Color Level
Hair color stars off by identifying the “level” or darkness of the hair.
Whether you’re talking about your natural color or choosing a new color, the first step
is to understand and choose how dark the hair is. Standard hair color levels are defined
on a scale of 1 to 10 with level 1 being the darkest, blackest color and level 10 being
a very light blond color. Here are the 10 standard hair color levels:

Level 1: Black
Level 2: Darkest (almost black) Brown
Level 3: Very Dark Brown
Level 4: Dark Brown
Level 5: Brown
Level 6: Light Brown
Level 7: Dark Blond
Level 8: Medium Blond
Level 9: Blond
Level 10: Light Blond
The lightest platinum blonde colours are often referred to as level 11, 12, or even 13.

Hair Color Tone
After establishing the level of one’s natural or desired hair color, next the tone of hair color
is defined. Hair color tones can be put into three standard categories: warm, cool, or neutral.
When hair stylists discuss color, or if you are choosing a color from a swatch book, the
tones are often indicated with a letter. Here are standard examples of color tones:

N: Neutral. Neither warm, nor cool.

Cool Tones
A: Ash
B: Beige
B: Blue
G: Green V: Violet

Warm Tones
C: Copper
G: Gold
O: Orange
R: Red
W: Warm
RB: Brown/Red
RO: Red/Orange

Tones are often be combined in hair color formulas to create the perfect shade.
For example, an auburn color is achieved by combining neutral or warm tones with red tones.
Red hair color can be made cool by adding violet tones to the color formula.
Sometimes hair colorists achieve the right color combination by mixing different color tones together,
but the hair color companies typically have pre-created colors that feature mixed tones, as well.

Combining Level and Tone
When defining a hair color, the level and tone are combined into a letter/number combination. For example: a warm brown color would be defined as a “5W”. The number indicates the hair color level (brown), and the letter indicates that the tone is warm. Here are a few other examples of hair color defined by the level and tone:

8A: Medium Ash Blond
4RV: Dark Red/Violet
6C: Light Copper Brown
5N: Neutral Brown
9W: Light Warm Blond

Determining a hair color level is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Your opinion may be a level off from the next person’s opinion, but generally speaking, the level is pretty obvious. However, hair color tone is not as easily defined by the eye. What one person my see as “red” the next person may describe as “copper”. This is where pictures and swatches come in very handy to be sure that everyone is speaking the same language.

Make it a little clearer?
Next time you’re going to purchase a box at the supermarket or when you
visit your hairdresser next time around, you’ll know what the numbers and
letters are for on the box or what your Hairdresser is talking about!

Chat soon,