Top of Mind

06.07.20

The Glossary

The Glossary

By Crown Affair

We love a good air dry tip as much as the next person, but what really excites us is the science behind our strands. The growth phases, the genetic makeup of each hair, all the phases our hair is constantly cycling through at any given moment—the more we learn about hair, the more we crave. Consider this your guide to everything you need to know about the strands on your head—and (to be honest) a few things you probably don't. 

AnagenEach hair on your head cycles between four phases: anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen—then back to anagen. Anagen is the growth phase of the cycle in which your cells are rapidly dividing and your hair is actively growing. This phase can last around 2-7 years before moving on to the catagen phase (more on that later).

BulbThe root of the hair that forms the base of the follicle. This is where your hair starts as a living cell. Here, the cells divide every 23-72 hours, faster than any other cell in our bodies.

BulgeNot to be confused with the bulb, the bulge is located nearby and houses stem cells that supply the hair follicle with fresh cells. The bulge also helps heal our skin after injury. 

BristleThick hairs or hair-like fibers that comb through hair on a brush. These can be made from natural materials, like boar bristles, or synthetics, like nylon.

CanitiesThe scientific name for grey or white hairs. There are two types: congenital canities, which is a condition that exists before or at birth; and acquired canities, which develops with age depending on genetics.

CatagenThe transitional phase that signals the end of growth and lasts about 10 days.

Club hairA non-living hair in the last phase of the growth cycle that has detached from the hair follicle and is waiting to be shed. 

CortexThe thickest part of the hair that contains hair pigment. About 90% of our strands' total weight lives here.

CowlickA region of the scalp where the hair grows in a spiral pattern; the most common site is the crown, but it may appear anywhere. Fun fact: In 2011, a dermatologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Dr. Orr Barak, conducted a study that showed people who are right handed were more likely to have a counterclockwise cowlick, while people who were left handed or ambidextrous had the opposite pattern. 

CrownThe area on the upper back part of your skull. 

ExogenThis is the shedding phase of hair growth. This is totally normal, so don't worry. The average person sheds 50-100 strands per day, with newer strands coming through to replace them. 

FollicleAn organ found in our skin that regulates hair growth and produces hair all over our bodies. The hair follicle consists of the papilla, the hair matrix (trichocytes), the root sheath, and the bulge. 

Growth patternThe unique set of positions hairs take on a person’s head and body. 

HairIn the world of hair, this may refer to the hair shaft specifically or hair as a whole.

KeratinA hard protein that makes up the majority of our hair's structure that comes from the proteins in our diet.

PheomelaninThe cell pigment produced by melanocytes that gives red color to hair.

Sebaceous glandA gland that empties oil into the follicle canal to lubricate the hair shaft and carry oil to the surface of your scalp.

SebumThe oily material produced by sebaceous glands. 

ShaftThe filament produced by a hair follicle made of keratin. The shaft has two layers: the cuticle and the cortex, though sometimes there is a third layer called the medulla. 

TelogenThe resting phase of the hair cycle. Our hair stays in the telogen phase for around three months as new hairs begin to grow. At any given moment, about 10-15% of our hair is in this phase. 

Terminal hairFully matured hairs that are thick, strong, and usually pigmented. These are mostly found on the scalp and pubic region.   

TrychocyteSpecialized epithelial cells from which hair and nails are formed. 

Vellus hairThe short, thin, lightly colored hair that covers most of our bodies. During puberty, some vellus hair can become terminal. 

WhiskerTiny hairs on the face, upper lip, chin, cheeks. It also refers to the vibrissae, primarily sensory structures, which are located on the upper lip of most mammals. 

- Where do you live and what do you do?

I live in New York City and work at a skincare company and create content on the side.

- How would you describe your hair?

Fine, silky and straight.

- What is your current haircare routine?

I wash with baby shampoo (I have a sensitive scalp), conditioner with Ouai, brush through with The Brush No. 001, apply The Oil at the ends, and finish by air drying.

"I think taking care of yourself and mental health is extremely important, especially during these times where we are all over consuming information and content."

- How does your hair make you feel?

My hair makes me feel pretty.

- Have you always felt this way about your hair or has it changed over time?

It has changed over time. Growing up, my dad would do my hair. I always had it long because my dad hated short hair. He associated having long, natural hair with being able to find a husband because women in Vietnam had it that way. I used to resent him for never letting me dye or cut my hair like all of my friends. The one time I did cut my hair and got a bob, I was really, really sad. Never again! Sometimes dad knows best.

- What daily rituals (outside of haircare) do you lean into the most? 

Skincare, exercising, journalling. meditation, FaceTiming my boyfriend (we are long distance and the Canadian border is currently closed), making a matcha latte. The simplest rituals give me a sense of renewal and balance.

- How have your rituals changed since stay-at-home began?

I’ve been learning to set boundaries to separate my home and work life. I think taking care of yourself and mental health is extremely important, especially during these times where we are all over consuming information and content.

Next: Rituals with... Dianna