H E A L T H:

You think you know all about it, but did you know that a strand of hair is made of dead, keratin-filled cells that overlap like roof shingles? (That's why it doesn't hurt to cut it.)

Each hair on your head grows for several years before its follicle enters a resting phase for a few months. While the follicle rests, the hair falls out. The length of growing time varies from person to person. In fact, it is a "genetic trait" (something you inherit from your parents).

Also inherited from Mom and Dad is the kind of hair you've got:

Brown, black, red, blond, straight, wavy, curly, thick, thin, dry, oily.

(So if you don't like it, blame them! Of course, they inherited theirs too, so...)

It's Everywhere! Like everything else happening with your body, your hair can go through changes during adolescence too. For one thing, you grow more of it! Under your arms and around your "genitals" (sex organs; male and female). The hair on your arms and legs may get darker and thicker. Some boys start to grow hair on their faces and chests.

Some Common Hair Worries!

My Hair is Falling Out! Relax! Everyone loses hair all the time. We shed 50 to 100 hairs each day as part of hair's natural growth and replacement cycle. Ordinary hair loss is normal and healthy. New hairs grow to replace those lost in everyday shedding, so you never miss them.

If you have excessive hair loss: it might be because you are dieting too much or have an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa. Some birth control pills can cause hair loss, as can severe stress, illness, certain anti-cancer drugs, and infections of the scalp (caused by allergies to shampoos, hair conditioners, or hair coloring products).

My Dad is Bald! Am I Going to Be Too? Baldness may be inherited from either parent, but the actual extent of balding varies greatly within families. Male hormones, "androgens," are the culprit. Balding can begin at any age. About 10% of men show obvious balding in their teens, 20% in the 20s, and 30% in the 30s and so on. The earlier hair loss begins, the more severe it is likely to be. But then, think of it this way - lots of guys and girls are shaving their heads these days! So your dad's baldness could be a fashion statement.

My Hair Isn't Shiny, Even After I Wash It! Dull looking hair can be caused by a buildup of dirt or too many hair products - conditioner or hair spray can make your hair look dull. It's a good idea to wash oily hair every day - not only to keep from making any acne worse, but also to stimulate the scalp. This stimulation may actually make hair grow faster by waking up the hair follicles and the scalp's natural oils. Dull hair may also mean that your body is lacking in vitamin B-12 and could use some more lean meats, fish, eggs, milk.

Which "Do" to Do? Popular hair styles come and go and come back again. Teens (and adults) spend bundles of time and money trying to look cool. (Whatever "cool" is at the moment.) It's fun to change your looks. But too much perming, dying, straightening, etc. can damage the hair. Not permanently, of course. (The part you messed up can be cut off and new, healthy hair will grow back.)

Flash! Lead was recently discovered as an ingredient in some of the over-the counter hair coloring products. (You definitely don't want to put lead on your scalp so it gets absorbed into your skin and causes lead poisoning!)





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