Have you ever wondered about why your hair is the color it is? What causes your hair to change color naturally, whether that be from swimming, the sun or just going grey? If you're a giant nerd like me, you love to know why things the way the are and the science behind it. I've compiled a list of 14 fun facts all about the nerdy science behind natural hair colour and all of the things that effect it;
1) Natural hair colour, aka what grows out your head, is polygenic. This means many genes play a role in what determines your haircolour.
2) Eumelanin pigments make up brown and black hair.
3) Pheomelanin pigments make up red and yellow (blonde) hair.
4) The combinations and numbers of eumelanin and pheomelanin molecules determine your hair colour and the possibilities are quite varied.
5) Red hair is theorized to exist because of a DNA mutation somewhere along the line of our ancient ancestors.
6) Air pockets in the medulla help determine the sheen and colour tones by influencing the reflection of light. Blonde hairs typically have the least number of pigments, therefore they are filled with more air to deflect light, which not only makes blondes lighter in colour but also in weight.
7) Blondes typically have a greater number of hairs on their head.
8) The actual melanin (pigment) is found in the cortex. It "finds its way there" by being injected into keratinocytes at the bulb in the follicle.
9) Melanocytes are what inject the pigments. These melanocytes will eventually die off and this is what gives you grey hair.
10) Before melanocytes die off they will gradually become less active and your hair will be lighter in colour as a result. Think watered down kool-aid.
11) Many things can speed up the process of "greying". These include smoking, anemia, poor nutrition, insufficient Viatmin B, untreated thyroid conditions, extreme shock or stress.
12) Swimming pools turn hair green not because of the chlorine, but because metals (specifically copper) bind to the proteins in your hair. Maganese and iron will also bind to your hair, but it is the copper that makes it green.
13) The sun lightens your hair because UV rays have a way of oxidizing and destroying melanin.
14) Chlorine and salt water also lighten your hair by degrading the keratinocytes that carry your fragile melanin
All these changes to your natural hair colour happens before you even think about altering your hair colour in the salon, or with infamous box colour from the drug store...more on that process later!
Stay tuned; and in the meantime just don't choose the box colour.