PDA

View Full Version : When I remember the fact that hair is actually DEAD...



bunnylake
February 24th, 2013, 08:47 PM
So, I'm sure most of us are aware that hair is dead as soon as it leaves the scalp.
Yet we still worry about the "health" of our hair and the "nutrients" we put into it. It seems contradictory, doesn't it? As long as our hair looks and feels good, that's all that actually matters. Unless I am missing something. What do you think?

ghost
February 24th, 2013, 08:58 PM
I'd say maybe "condition" would be a better word than "health"? Like, I'm concerned about the health of the new growth coming from my scalp, because I want it eventually to make up the length of my hair. But for the length I have right now, all my dead hair, I'm still concerned about its condition even though it's dead and doesn't really have "health". Pretty much I just want it all looking and feeling good, and not breaking on me.

Wavelength
February 24th, 2013, 08:59 PM
Technically yes, it's "dead", except for the roots of course. But even though it's made of non-living cells, they can be affected by moisture, heat, humidity, chemicals, etc. As for nutrients, those are usually meant for the scalp, which is still very much living.

Talking about "healthy hair" is basically a useful shorthand, as health is certainly involved when referring to hair's appearance. People who are chronically ill or malnourished often have thinning hair, or brittle hair, or start losing their hair.

So no, I don't really think it's contradictory. It's perhaps imprecise, but that's true about many of the ways we use language.

When we use a common phrase like "he ran out of ink", we don't mean that some guy was standing in a puddle of ink, and then suddenly dashed out of it. :wink:

HintOfMint
February 24th, 2013, 09:00 PM
It's just a figure of speech. "Health" easily translates to "condition." My hair is in good condition. My car is in good condition. Healthy is kind of an odd way to put it, but it's not to be taken literally and I'm sure people use that term all the time knowing that.

I don't believe I've ever heard anybody on these boards talk about "nutrients" for hair that's already grown. Maybe vitamins to be taken internally to improve growth, or oils that absorb for whatever finish they want for their hair. "Nutrients" is mostly advertiser talk.

And there's plenty of hair that looks and feels good because it's been heatstyled, for example, but ultimately there's often a lot of damage from what just looks good, so it's a short term fix. I could flat iron every day and have hair that looks and feels good but in the end, it'll break off. I could cover the damage with products and continue, but it won't get long and stay long. In that sense "healthy" can be a good term to use for hair that doesn't have damage and is often tougher than chemically/heat altered hair, as odd of an expression as it is.

truepeacenik
February 24th, 2013, 09:22 PM
Well, wooden instruments are dead and we treat them well to get the proper amount of moisture v. dryness. Why not hair?

emilia83
February 24th, 2013, 10:11 PM
Well, wooden instruments are dead and we treat them well to get the proper amount of moisture v. dryness. Why not hair?

Yes, I like this! Wood's not alive either, but you still have to maintain it. If you never oil it and keep washing it with harsh products, it'll dry out. And, of course, it helps to have wood that's in good condition in the first place. ;)

spidermom
February 24th, 2013, 10:15 PM
Anything that grows and shows stress immediately is absolutely positively not dead. I don't care who says so. They're WRONG.

furnival
February 24th, 2013, 10:39 PM
'Dead' is such an emotive word. Maybe 'inanimate' would be less dramatic. We don't think of our shoes being dead, or the cotton in our clothes, or our furniture.

There's plenty of advertising drivel about 'health', 'vitality', 'life' etc when it comes to hair. Words like 'nourish' and 'health' are used to imply that hair is alive and thirsting for whatever nutritious product is being sold. 'Lifeless' is used a lot to describe hair in poor condition. Is it any wonder there's confusion? :p

Maybe instead of saying 'hair is dead' we should be saying 'hair is an inanimate keratinous extrusion'. ;)

bradlea
February 25th, 2013, 12:28 AM
'Dead' is such an emotive word. Maybe 'inanimate' would be less dramatic. We don't think of our shoes being dead, or the cotton in our clothes, or our furniture.

There's plenty of advertising drivel about 'health', 'vitality', 'life' etc when it comes to hair. Words like 'nourish' and 'health' are used to imply that hair is alive and thirsting for whatever nutritious product is being sold. 'Lifeless' is used a lot to describe hair in poor condition. Is it any wonder there's confusion? :p

Maybe instead of saying 'hair is dead' we should be saying 'hair is an inanimate keratinous extrusion'. ;)

Well said! Hair is no more dead than your fingernails are, I never hear anyone talk about fingernails being "dead", maybe because they're more attached than hair. I also really liked the conditioning wood comparison truepeacenik made!

Milui Elenath
February 25th, 2013, 02:02 AM
While hair maybe 'dead' and I agree with most comments here in regards to the word, (And I love Spidermom's comment) it is affected by the very much alive follicle so I think its worth worrying a little over the health of your hair and the nutrition you put on it since whatever you put on the length probably ends up on the scalp / follicles due to wicking. It certainly wouldn't be wise to ignore the health of your hair follicles. I also think that my definition of dead and a scientists definition may not match, in general I have quite a lot of scepticism regarding any and all science. :eyebrows: especially when it does not match my own experiences . . .

sakuraemily
February 25th, 2013, 02:10 AM
I agree with everyone here. When I don't do anything at all to my hair( just shampoo) my hair's texture becomes really bad, the smoothness goes and so does the lustre. But when I oil its all well-behaved.
Malnourishment shows on hair. I've seen a girl with very dull hair and she looked very peaky.

SnowWhite
February 25th, 2013, 03:20 AM
Hair is dead, but then, leather and wood are dead as well! (Although I see them as 'alive' because their texture keeps changing in a good way over the years..)
Regardless of the fact that they are dead, they need beeswaxing, polishing, sanding, oiling in order to keep their good condition.

Everything needs maintenance. Iron will rust if we don't keep it dry and clean, we need to clean stains from the floor... etc. Everything needs maintenance for a good condition, so does my hair. I want my hair to be like a beautiful waxed leather sofa, or a polished wooden floor that shines and looks 'healthy'.
That's why I nourish my hair, that's why I put oils in it in order to keep it looking 'alive'.



ETA: Besides, hair is a sign of health. That means, if someone is not healthy, you can tell by looking at that person's hair. Not in all cases of course. Sometimes it's external damage due to hairdye and heat styling. But if you eat only lettuce 24/7 and nothing else, I don't think you'll have pretty, shiny, strong hair. Because if you don't eat, your hair won't grow, simple as that. So, hair is technically dead (I hate to consider it that way), but it's a product of our own being alive and taking good care of our own body.
I had an eating disorder, and when I look at the condition of my hair back then (though I didn't dye / barely heat styling), it was terrible. Dry, thin, fallout... I'm fine now and so is my hair.

I've changed my diet recently, lot of veggies, good fats, fruits, nuts, dried fruits, no processed food/no 'artificial' sugar products and my hair is better and shinier than ever. In my case, I see beautiful hair as a 'reward' of my healthy life style, and also as a reward of pampering, conditioning, and devoting time to grooming.

1nuitblanche
February 25th, 2013, 06:01 AM
It does sound contradictory. I agree with the people who have already said that we generally use "health" as shorthand for "condition" when talking about our hair. Because the hair that we see isn't truly living, I think that we basically are trying to preserve it in the best way possible.

Ambystoma
February 25th, 2013, 06:34 AM
It does sound contradictory. I agree with the people who have already said that we generally use "health" as shorthand for "condition" when talking about our hair. Because the hair that we see isn't truly living, I think that we basically are trying to preserve it in the best way possible.

Exactly, I've had to explain to lots of people that no, that new miracle product won't heal split ends or make your strands any healthier than they were when they came out of your head and that all you can do is slow down the eventual degradation of each hair over time, by treating them as gently as possible and not exposing them to unnecessary heat/hygroscopic/chemical/mechanical etc damage but I guess that explanation isn't exiting enough because people just shrug, keep doing what they were doing, and then buying stuff that promises the moon :laugh:

jacqueline101
February 25th, 2013, 06:54 AM
I have to disagree. It's got living qualities like its been stated we pamper, care, and moisturize our scalps. It grows from the root outward. We have to use products that keep the scalp healthy so we get good hair growth.

LadyLongLocks
February 25th, 2013, 06:25 PM
I don't consider my hair dead until it is cut off. As long as it is attached to me there is some form of life.

renia22
February 25th, 2013, 06:55 PM
The info in this blog makes sense to me:

http://blog.philipkingsley.com/2012/01/24/to-be-or-not-to-be-the-question-of-is-our-hair-dead-or-alive/

dwell_in_safety
February 25th, 2013, 07:11 PM
It's inanimate and "dead," but it's not immutable. Pretty much what everyone else has been saying. :)

Syaoransbear
February 25th, 2013, 09:13 PM
I see it as more like a corpse. It was once living when it was being created by the follicle, but once it is pushed beyond the scalp it is like a dead body part. Like leather and wood.

Angel Barchild
February 26th, 2013, 02:51 AM
So, I'm sure most of us are aware that hair is dead as soon as it leaves the scalp.
Yet we still worry about the "health" of our hair and the "nutrients" we put into it. It seems contradictory, doesn't it? As long as our hair looks and feels good, that's all that actually matters. Unless I am missing something. What do you think?

I completely agree with you on the last part, as long as your hair looks and feels good, to you, that's all that matters. I'm not really sure what else could possibly matter, looking and feeling good are the only ways to measure weather your hair is "healthy" . You can't have hair that look and feels nice, and have it be "unhealthy".

jojo
February 26th, 2013, 10:51 AM
Interesting subject. Really can any of us be 100% sure hair really is dead? Like a tree has a root but the fact it grows and is affected by outside influences, makes me think other wise.

I truly believe hair has a memory, this is just my thought. When i trim my hair it quickly grows back the inch or two that is cut but when growing it to lengths never reached before it takes its own sweet time.

I have noted on many occassions after a trim my hair gets a spurt, although common sense tells me only the root is alive and this cannot be true; i sometimes wonder if this is entirely true.

jojo
February 26th, 2013, 10:56 AM
Anything that grows and shows stress immediately is absolutely positively not dead. I don't care who says so. They're WRONG.

Ive just read this after writing my comment and have to agree with this. Like how can anybody be entirely sure? Sure it doesn't hurt when you get your hair cut, but neither does exfoliating but your rubbing skin which is an organ which is most certainly alive!

Maybe hair is inactive rather than dead as in once its sprouted and grown serves no purpose other than to decorate, this doesnt mean that if its dry we cannot treat it and get it into a better condition? I dunno interesting thought!

Angelica
February 26th, 2013, 11:35 AM
Yes of course hair is dead just like our fingernails. Our roots are alive and I believe good hair health comes from what we consume and our genes and not products etc., we put on our hair. But of course the outward appearance is improved by conditioning etc. Some people who are ill or stressed fortunately have no hair worries, it just develops differently for them. I think that calcium is the best thing for nails and hair. Of course harsh treatment isn't going to be good if you want long flowing tresses, but only Medusa's hair is truly alive :)

CurlyCap
February 26th, 2013, 04:19 PM
I think about hair the way I think about good wood furniture.

Wood is beautiful and flexible, which is why we make furniture out of it. Hair is beautiful and so we appreciate it and want to use it to accent our beauty.

The best wood comes from strong healthy trees. Likewise, the healthiest hair comes from healthy people who eat good diets.

Beautiful wood furniture needs to be maintained to survive for many generations. Likewise, once the hair has grown, good care is needed to make sure it'll look just as good 10 years from now as it does now.

Panth
February 27th, 2013, 02:17 PM
For those who ask 'how do we know hair is dead?', the answer is that we can observe the hair follicle and its hair under the microscope. This (http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v38/n3/images/ng0306-273-F1.gif) is nice diagram of the regions (ignore the bit on the right with Stage 1/2/3).

If we look at the cells in the bottom of the hair follicle (the red and the yellow arch-shaped regions) we can see they are alive (i.e. look like normal functional cells). We can also look at their ability to respire, produce protein or do other things characteristic of living cells - and we can see that they do this.

If we look at the cells further up in the hair itself (in the solid yellow line) we can see that they progressively become filled with keratin and their internal structure breaks down, following the pattern called 'programmed cell death'/apoptosis. This includes disintegration of the nucleus and the mitochondria, stopping the ability to translate genes into protein and stopping cellular respiration (i.e. killing the cell).

If we look further up again, not only does the structure of the inside of the hair cell break down but also the outside breaks down - the boundaries between cells are lost and the keratin of individual cells fuses with its neighbours, resulting in a solid mass without easily discernible cell boundaries at all. Thus, these 'cells' certainly can't be alive as they can barely be called individual cells at all. This all happens before the hair protrudes out of the scalp.

So, cellularly, molecularly, biochemically, biologically - hair is dead (though its follicle is very much alive, resulting in the continual production of more hair whilst the follicle is in anagen). Whether or not you want to claim your hair is metaphorically, spiritually or otherwise 'alive' is up to you...

Milui Elenath
March 1st, 2013, 08:36 AM
But that is assuming that life can only be determined by cellular, molecular, biochemical, biological observations via microscope. Perhaps beyond the microscopic there is a level of life we have never seen or known or perhaps what appears dead is only dormant or stable and we don't yet understand it and perhaps we never will! :D

neko_kawaii
March 1st, 2013, 08:56 AM
No answers here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r3jAZRk1CQ).

Seeshami
March 1st, 2013, 08:57 AM
Dead things decay. It's not dead in the sense of dead.

furnival
March 1st, 2013, 12:42 PM
Dead things decay. It's not dead in the sense of dead.
This isn't strictly true: think of all the examples given in this thread- we wear shoes of dead leather, sit on furniture of dead wood. We stop these things decaying by keeping them clean and dry to keep the bacteria that cause decay at bay. If we were to keep our hair in the conditions suited to the bacteria responsible for decay- damp and undisturbed by brushing etc, for long periods of time- hair would indeed decay.
I think of hair like the shell of a snail- it is grown by a living creature, but it isn't alive in its own right. Living things consume and excrete and reproduce.
ETA: I know nobody has been suggesting that hair is a living organism in its own right, so I suppose that last comment is a wee bit gratuitous :p

Yozhik
March 1st, 2013, 01:28 PM
No answers here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r3jAZRk1CQ).

:thumbsup:

As per the discussion, I agree with those who say that although hair is not 'alive', its condition does and can reflect health and vitality.

leslissocool
March 1st, 2013, 01:55 PM
Anything that grows and shows stress immediately is absolutely positively not dead. I don't care who says so. They're WRONG.

:hifive: the roots are certainly alive, if you care about hair growth you certainly care about the health of the roots and the scalp.


No answers here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r3jAZRk1CQ).


Well it growls like your brother and eats in a way...

Panth
March 1st, 2013, 02:04 PM
Dead things decay. It's not dead in the sense of dead.

Ok, so if you "died" and were embalmed a la an Egyptian mummy or fell into a bog and turned into a bog body you aren't actually dead?

HairFaerie
March 1st, 2013, 02:49 PM
Here's my opinion on this subject:

If it's still a part of my body while I am alive, it's alive. Both hair and nails.

Hair and nails NEED a live body to keep them growing. So, in that sense, I am saying they are NOT dead.

The moment it falls out, get cut/clipped, I die etc., and is no longer attached to my body and can't grow - it's dead.

Angel Barchild
March 1st, 2013, 06:56 PM
For those who ask 'how do we know hair is dead?', the answer is that we can observe the hair follicle and its hair under the microscope. This (http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v38/n3/images/ng0306-273-F1.gif) is nice diagram of the regions (ignore the bit on the right with Stage 1/2/3).

If we look at the cells in the bottom of the hair follicle (the red and the yellow arch-shaped regions) we can see they are alive (i.e. look like normal functional cells). We can also look at their ability to respire, produce protein or do other things characteristic of living cells - and we can see that they do this.

If we look at the cells further up in the hair itself (in the solid yellow line) we can see that they progressively become filled with keratin and their internal structure breaks down, following the pattern called 'programmed cell death'/apoptosis. This includes disintegration of the nucleus and the mitochondria, stopping the ability to translate genes into protein and stopping cellular respiration (i.e. killing the cell).

If we look further up again, not only does the structure of the inside of the hair cell break down but also the outside breaks down - the boundaries between cells are lost and the keratin of individual cells fuses with its neighbours, resulting in a solid mass without easily discernible cell boundaries at all. Thus, these 'cells' certainly can't be alive as they can barely be called individual cells at all. This all happens before the hair protrudes out of the scalp.

So, cellularly, molecularly, biochemically, biologically - hair is dead (though its follicle is very much alive, resulting in the continual production of more hair whilst the follicle is in anagen). Whether or not you want to claim your hair is metaphorically, spiritually or otherwise 'alive' is up to you...

+1 for you. I love science.:joy:

Dorothy
March 1st, 2013, 07:16 PM
I think of my hair as part of the organism of me. It is made of cells that are no longer operating but so is the entire exterior of my skin. I don't think of that as dead. Our bodies and minds are protected by a layer of inactive cells that protect tender living cells. My hair also keeps me warm and makes me feel good. After I collect it and make it into a hair rat, I don't think of that as dead either, no more than the wool sweater I wear.... or the bread I eat, also made of "dead" cells.

Seeshami
March 1st, 2013, 09:26 PM
Ok, so if you "died" and were embalmed a la an Egyptian mummy or fell into a bog and turned into a bog body you aren't actually dead?

No then you're an empty husk. Dead in a difference sense of dead.

There is dead as in - not living

and dead as in- rotting corpse full of maggots.

Hair and mummies fall into one way of looking at dead and corpses and cut flowers fall into another.

Dead is a weird word because it's up for interpretation.

Eta:

I guess what I mean is that the entire thing is conceptual, not literal or scientific.

Panth
March 2nd, 2013, 02:13 AM
Ok, so if you "died" and were embalmed a la an Egyptian mummy or fell into a bog and turned into a bog body you aren't actually dead?

No then you're an empty husk. Dead in a difference sense of dead.

There is dead as in - not living

and dead as in- rotting corpse full of maggots.

Hair and mummies fall into one way of looking at dead and corpses and cut flowers fall into another.

Dead is a weird word because it's up for interpretation.

Eta:

I guess what I mean is that the entire thing is conceptual, not literal or scientific.

Oh, I accept that there are non-scientific, cultural definitions of 'dead'. Hence why I wrote this:


So, cellularly, molecularly, biochemically, biologically - hair is dead (though its follicle is very much alive, resulting in the continual production of more hair whilst the follicle is in anagen). Whether or not you want to claim your hair is metaphorically, spiritually or otherwise 'alive' is up to you...

But saying 'my hair is alive, because it doesn't decay' or 'because it's attached to a living thing (me)' or whatever doesn't alter the scientific fact. You can say 'my hair is metaphorically alive, because I see it responds to x, y and z'. You can say 'my hair is alive because I believe it is special in ways x, y and z'. But if you start bringing scientific reasoning in to argue why it's not dead (e.g. lack of decay) you can't say you're not using a scientific definition of dead and thus your argument is invalidated by the scientific evidence I stated above.

tl;dr : Things may be conceptual rather than literal or scientific (or metaphysical vs. physical, to put it another way), but you can't cherry-pick literal, scientific evidence to defend your conceptual argument and then ignore the main body of literal, scientific evidence that runs contrary to your argument. That just invalidates your own argument, which could be perfectly valid on conceptual/metaphysical grounds. :flower:

furnival
March 2nd, 2013, 02:42 AM
No then you're an empty husk. Dead in a difference sense of dead.

There is dead as in - not living

and dead as in- rotting corpse full of maggots.

Hair and mummies fall into one way of looking at dead and corpses and cut flowers fall into another.

Dead is a weird word because it's up for interpretation.

Eta:

I guess what I mean is that the entire thing is conceptual, not literal or scientific.
I'm sorry, I have to disagree with this. The word dead is not up for interpretation- it simply means something that is no longer alive. It doesn't make a difference if a corpse is rotting or not, it is still dead in the same way. I think you might be confusing the process of decay with death itself.

Could you clarify your last point? What is the 'entire thing' that is conceptual, not literal or scientific?

Wildcat Diva
March 2nd, 2013, 03:47 AM
Maybe we all have Zombie hair; it's dead but not dead?:shudder:

Mischamiu
March 2nd, 2013, 03:56 AM
If you don't put nutrients in your body it won't even grow :) Nails and hair are the last ones to receive them and if you don't have enough then you won't have hair and nails in good "condition". Also, just like you can break your nail by manipulating something you can cause split ends by not detangling properly or dying your hair :)

neko_kawaii
March 2nd, 2013, 07:30 AM
Alive at the roots and dead and decaying at the tips. Like my antique dresser (which is made from dead tree), the better care I give it, the longer it will last in good condition; and in the case of my hair the longer it has a chance to grow.

Seeshami
March 2nd, 2013, 08:27 AM
But saying 'my hair is alive, because it doesn't decay' or 'because it's attached to a living thing (me)' or whatever doesn't alter the scientific fact. You can say 'my hair is metaphorically alive, because I see it responds to x, y and z'. You can say 'my hair is alive because I believe it is special in ways x, y and z'. But if you start bringing scientific reasoning in to argue why it's not dead (e.g. lack of decay) you can't say you're not using a scientific definition of dead and thus your argument is invalidated by the scientific evidence I stated above.

tl;dr : Things may be conceptual rather than literal or scientific (or metaphysical vs. physical, to put it another way), but you can't cherry-pick literal, scientific evidence to defend your conceptual argument and then ignore the main body of literal, scientific evidence that runs contrary to your argument. That just invalidates your own argument, which could be perfectly valid on conceptual/metaphysical grounds. :flower:

I never said it was alive because it isn't decaying. I said it's a different kind of dead because it isn't decaying. It's not an argument in alive vs dead. It's how I see it as dead but not dead.




Could you clarify your last point? What is the 'entire thing' that is conceptual, not literal or scientific?

That was the best I could do. I guess it just doesn't make much sense how I look at there being different kinds of dead because apparently there is only one.

Panth
March 2nd, 2013, 11:50 AM
I never said it was alive because it isn't decaying. I said it's a different kind of dead because it isn't decaying. It's not an argument in alive vs dead. It's how I see it as dead but not dead.

That was the best I could do. I guess it just doesn't make much sense how I look at there being different kinds of dead because apparently there is only one.

I'm sorry, I don't really understand what "dead but not dead" means (unless it's either "dead, but attached to something living" or "technically dead, but not with any of the nasty associations of dead"?).

Seeshami
March 2nd, 2013, 03:15 PM
Yes to the second one. It is a dead non-living something but not a icky dead thing.

I guess the body world exhibit is a good example, there are real dead people but they are fasinating preserved and taken care of dead instead of unpreseved decaying dead.

Panth
March 3rd, 2013, 08:47 AM
Yes to the second one. It is a dead non-living something but not a icky dead thing.

I guess the body world exhibit is a good example, there are real dead people but they are fasinating preserved and taken care of dead instead of unpreseved decaying dead.

Other than thinking the body world exhibit isn't icky... I agree. Hair is dead, but that doesn't mean it's icky. (Although, equally, just because it's not icky doesn't mean that it's not dead...)

lillikins
March 3rd, 2013, 09:04 AM
When we use a common phrase like "he ran out of ink", we don't mean that some guy was standing in a puddle of ink, and then suddenly dashed out of it. :wink:

This has nothing to do with the subject, but this made me laugh so hard.