Even though hair is often treated as just an accessory, it has some important functions in helping to protect us in various ways.  For instance, the hair on our head and body provides some insulation against both the sun and the cold.  Meanwhile, eyelashes and nose hairs keep out harmful debris.

This article contains general information about hair and how it relates to your skin and body.

Maintaining Healthy Hair

To keep your hair in the best condition, treat it gently and keep it conditioned.  Some things that can damage hair and may lead to breakage or hair loss are:

Oily Hair

Oily hair basically stems from an oily scalp.  Hair follicles include sebaceous (oil-producing) glands that produce sebum, or oil.  The more oil produced, the greasier hair may look.  Seborrhea, the condition of when the glands put out too much oil, can be caused by excessive male sex hormones, and can lead to acne or seborrheic dermatitis.  Washing hair daily may help to reduce the surface oil on the scalp.  As well, a doctor may recommend retinoids (topical or oral), or hormone therapy to reduce androgen levels, which are involved in sebum production.

Grey Hair

Grey hair is caused by the loss of pigment (melanin) which gives hair its colour.  Aging is the main cause of greying hair, but other factors can be health and heredity.  If your parents went grey early, you have a higher chance too.  Grey hair can also signal an underlying medical condition associated with decreased melanin production, such as vitiligo.  Any type of hair loss can also help reveal grey hair, as dark hair tends to fall out more readily than grey hair.

Colouring Hair

Colouring hair is a common beauty practice, but is not completely free of risks.  Problems can include burning, itching, redness of the scalp, hair loss, and even severe allergic reactions.  Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical substance often found in hair colouring products which can cause adverse reactions if you are allergic to it.  It is important to perform a patch test each time you use a hair dye, even if you have used it before, since and allergy to a product ingredient can develop at any time.  To ensure you use hair colouring products safely, follow this advice:

Straightening with Hair Relaxers

Hair relaxers are used to chemically straighten curly or wavy hair.  Overly frequent use can weaken or damage hair, so it is important to check with a salon professional about how often is safe to use a hair relaxer.  To ensure you use hair relaxing products safely, follow this advice:

Hair Removal

There are various methods of removing unwanted hair, each with their own pros and cons.

Shaving, using a razor and usually shaving cream, is a common hair removal method among men and women, as it is inexpensive and easy to access.  However, there is a possibility of nicks and cuts, as well as stubble and a fast re-growth time.

Waxing involves applying a layer of melted wax to the skin and then pulling it off quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth, pulling the hair out by the root.  This results in slower hair regrowth.  It is believed that repeated damage to the hair follicles may eventually result in diminished hair growth.  Extra caution is necessary with warm wax to ensure it won't burn skin.  Negative effects include pain during removal, redness and sensitivity that can last hours after hair removal, and, in some cases, scarring, hyperpigmentation, and dermatitis.  Sugaring is similar to waxing, consisting of a soft paste that is applied to skin, then pulled off.  Both methods can be done at home, or professionally at a salon.

Lasering consists of using a targeted laser beam to penetrate and destroy hair follicles that produce hair.  Results are very long lasting, and can be permanent with enough subsequent treatments.  Potential side effects are blistering, skin discolouration, redness, swelling, scarring, and pigmentation problems, such as white spots where lasering has occured.

Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs grow into the skin instead of out.  They usually result in areas where hair has been removed by shaving, waxing, or tweezing.  Ingrown hairs produce itchy or painful red bumps similar to pimples.  Infection can result when an ingrown hair is scratched or picked at.  Having naturally curly hair increases the chance of ingrown hairs, since the hair follicles are curved.  A few tips for shaving to reduce ingrown hairs are:


Folliculitis refers to inflammation of hair follicles.  When it occurs in the beard area of the face, it is also known as "barber's itch."  It usually involves redness and swelling, and may lead to infection.  Folliculitis develops when hair follicles become damaged, such as when due to friction from clothing, or irritation caused by shaving.  Common symptoms include a rash, itching, and pimples or pustules.  It is usually found in the neck or groin area.  You can try to relieve the symptoms by applying a hot, moist compress to the affected area.  However, if the infection worsens or doesn't resolve on its own within 2 to 3 days, see your doctor as antibiotics may be required.  A few tips to prevent folliculitis are:

For more information on hair and hair conditions, click the links below.

Information has been referenced from the following sources: 1 2 3 4 5