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What Is Hair Made Of? The Complete Guide To Your Mane's Makeup

what is hair made of

Being hair enthusiasts, we’ll be the first to admit we’re a little obsessed with our strands. Between trying different styling methods, experimenting with color, and researching new ways to keep our strands healthy-looking, we just can’t get enough.

In the midst of all the primping and polishing, we may have skipped over a few vital details about our strands. This includes the all-important question: What is hair made of and how does it grow?

To better understand the composition of our hair, we decided to do some investigating.

What is hair made of?


The main structure of hair is keratin, a strong protein packed with 18 different amino acids that is also found in human fingernails and skin as well as animal hooves and feathers. When you think of keratin, you probably think of the popular salon straightening and smoothing treatments. Because keratin is essentially hair’s main building block, making up 65 to 95 percent of the total hair fiber by weight, keratin treatments and products formulated with keratin help strengthen and soften hair.

If you’re looking to see what products with keratin can do for your strands, we recommend starting with a shampoo and conditioner system like the Matrix Biolage Advanced Keratin Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner. Formulated with Pro-Keratin and silk, Matrix Biolage Advanced Keratindose Shampoo provides targeted reinforcement and moisture balance while helping damaged, over-processed, color-treated, weak, or fragile hair.


Ever wonder how you got that gorgeous hair color? Pigments called melanin produce every natural hair color. There are two types of melanin pigments found in the hair cells that give hair its color: Eumelanin gives red-brown to black hair color and pheomelanin gives light yellow to red hair color. Since the word melanin technically means “a dark brown to black pigment,” it was once used only to describe darker shades. However, scientists and researchers now use it to describe any hue.

The type and amount of melanin (eumelanin or pheomelanin) determines your hair color. As you age, your hair follicles produce less and less melanin, leading to those pesky gray and white strands.

How does hair grow?

Now that we’ve tackled what hair is made of, it’s time to address the next pressing question on our minds—how exactly does hair grow?

Hair grows from follicles, small glands that sit beneath the skin on your scalp. Your hair begins growing from a root at the bottom of the follicle. Scalp blood vessels nourish the root, producing cells to make the hair grow.

Wondering what gives your hair that silky, smooth feeling? As it pushes through the skin, it passes through an oil gland called a sebaceous gland—which adds oil to each strand to keep them shiny and soft.

Fun fact: each person has about 100,000 follicles on their scalp, and hair grows about six inches per year.

If you’re on a mission to achieve super long length, we know what you’re probably wondering—is there a way to make hair grow any faster? Unfortunately, there is no proven way to speed up hair growth. However, there are products formulated to strengthen and maintain your current lengths. From the L'Oréal portfolio of products, we love the Kérastase Resistance Masque Extentioniste, a strengthening hair mask for damaged hair.

Looking for more expert hair advice? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

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