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Why do we have hair?

About 5 million hair follicles cover the average human body from the time of birth. In fact, there is little surface area that doesn't have hair of some kind. The souls of our feet, the palms of our hands, lips, belly buttons, scar tissue are all void of hair. Considering how much of it we have, it must serve some kind of purpose right?!

Type & Location Determine Function

There are two types of hair, just two. They may seem varied and different based on the location but there really is on two types. The first is the one that covers our entire body head to toe and that is Vellus hair. It is distinguished by it's appearance (or lack of). The hair is often barely noticeable since it is short, super thin and so slight in color.

The other type of hair is Terminal hair. This is the hair we see, it's quite visible. It's the type of hair on our head, over our eyes as our eye brows, eye lashes, nose hairs, etc. You get the idea. Terminal hair is very visible. Vellus hair may be replaced with Terminal hair as we mature. For example; leg hair, chest hair, face hair all start to change as we reach puberty. Some may be coarse or even curly while other terminals may be straight.

So what is all that hair for?

Turns out hair is more than just a pretty accent for your charming good looks. Those locks, and the rest of your hair, serves a purpose. Some of the functions our hair has are;

  • Thermal protection – In the cold, our hair on our head helps hold the heat in. On the body, when a cold breeze brushes the skin, the hair follicles retract and tense as a way to conserve heat and protect the skin.
  • Natural air-conditioner – When we sweat the hair traps the water and the breeze catches and it cools the water, thereby cooling the skin.
  • Traps dust and particles – Nose hair, eye lashes and eye brows help trap dust and fine particles.
  • Prevents friction – Hair can stop the friction caused by skin to skin action like running or walking.

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