Let's take a closer look at the human hair:
Humans have three different types of hair:
* Lanugo - fine hair that covers nearly the entire body of fetuses.
* Vellus - short, fine, "peach fuzz" body hair that grows in most places on the human body in both sexes.
* Terminal - fully developed hair, which is generally longer, coarser, thicker, and darker than vellus hair.
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Different parts of the human body feature different types of hair. From childhood onward, vellus hair covers the entire human body regardless
of sex or race except in the following locations: the lips, the nipples, the palms of hands, the soles of feet,
certain external genital areas, the navel and scar tissue. The density of the hairs (in hair follicles per square
centimeter) varies from one person to another.
The rising level of male hormones (androgens) during puberty
causes a transformation process of vellus hair into terminal hair
on several parts of the male body. The hair follicles respond
to androgens, primarily testosterone and its derivatives;
the hair in these locations can be thus termed androgenic hair.
The rate of hair growth and the weight of the hairs increase.
However, different areas respond with different sensitivities. As testosterone level increases, the sequence of appearance
of androgenic hair reflects the gradations of androgen sensitivity.
The pubic area is most sensitive, and heavier hair usually grows there first in response to androgens.
Areas on the human body that develop terminal hair growth due to rising androgens in both sexes, men
and women, are the underarms and the pubic area. In contrast, normally only men grow androgenic hair
in other areas. There is a sexual dimorphism in the amount and distribution of androgenic hair, with males having
more terminal hair (particularly facial hair, chest hair, abdominal hair and hair on legs and arms) and females having more vellus hair,
which is less visible. The genetic disposition determines the sex-dependent and individual rising of androgens and therefore the development
of androgenic hair.
Increased body hair on women following the male pattern can be referred to as hirsutism. An excessive and abnormal hair growth on the body
of males and females is defined as hypertrichosis. Considering an individual occurrence of body hair as abnormal does not implicitly
depend on medical indications but also on cultural and social attitudes.
Individual hairs alternate periods of growth and dormancy. During the growth portion of the cycle, hair follicles are long and bulbous,
and the hair advances outward at about a third of a millimeter per day. After three to six months, body hair growth stops
(the pubic and armpit areas having the longest growth period).
The follicle shrinks and the root of the hair grows rigid. Following a period of dormancy, another growth cycle starts, and eventually a new hair
pushes the old one out of the follicle from beneath. Head hair, by comparison, grows for a long duration and to a great length before being shed.
The rate of growth is approximately 15 millimeters, or about ⅝ inch, per month.
The attitudes towards hair on the human body also vary between
different cultures and times.
In some cultures profuse chest hair on men is a symbol of virility
and masculinity; other societies display a hairless body as a sign
In ancient Egypt, people regarded a completely smooth, hairless body
as the standard of beauty. An upper class Egyptian woman took great pains
to ensure that she did not have a single hair on her body,
except for the top of her head (and even this was often replaced with a wig).
The ancient Greeks later adopted this smooth ideal, considering a hairless body
to be representative of youth and beauty. T
his is reflected in Greek female sculptures which do not display any pubic hair.
Islam stipulates many tenets with respect to hair, such as the covering of hair
by women and the removal of armpit and pubic hair
In Western societies it became a public trend during the late twentieth century,
particularly for women, to reduce or to remove their body hair.
The bikini and Brazilian waxing fashion, as well as the sexual imagery
in advertising and movies are major reasons for this development.
Although origin of modern hair removal style is usually associated with Brazil,
the media trend began in the United States and is becoming ever more popular
throughout other Western countries.
It is also beginning to gain currency among men.
Silky smooth skin achieved through the hot wax hair removal process is pleasant to touch and it creates very young and sexy appearance
Over the history of mankind, body hair, or lack of it, was a subject
and result of evolution, style, hygiene, cultural and religious influence.
At times hairy male chests or very "bushy" female pubic areas were
considered very sexy.
Today's trend promotes full, healthy looking head hairstyle
and as little as possible hair on the rest of the body.
This refers to Western Culture, apart from other religion influenced parts of the world.
The most readily available way to remove unwanted hair is shaving.
Majority of women usually shave their legs or arms starting this procedure early in their life.
Hair grows back quickly. The growth seems to be stronger, initiating a never ending battle,
fought during every shower.
Merkin is a pubic wig, originated by prostitutes in Europe
during baroque era, to cover their hairless genitalia.
In the 1700’s when mercury was used to treat sexually
transmitted diseases (Gonorrhea or Syphilis) one of the
side effects was the loss of pubic hair. To disguise this
condition a merkin was employed.
Today usage is limited to clothing optional events, used
occasionally by both sexes, rather for humours than
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Hair removal is the practice of removing body hair, and describes the methods used to achieve that result.
Depilation is the removal the part of the hair above the surface of the skin. The most common form of depilation is
shaving or trimming. Another popular option is the use of chemical depilatories, which work by breaking the disulfide
bonds that link the protein chains that give hair its strength, making the hair disintegrate.
Epilation is the removal of the entire hair, including the part below the skin. Methods include waxing, sugaring, epilation
devices, lasers, threading, intense pulsed light or electrology. Hair is also sometimes removed by plucking with tweezers.
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Typical hair growth.