What is the function of hair? Reasons why we humans need it

Heather Campbell
 min read

What is the function of hair? Strange question perhaps, but have you ever wondered why we have hair on our heads and bodies?

What is the function of hair? Reasons why we humans need itAre you the type of person who likes to take care of your hair? Whether on the legs, face, or arms, hair can be a source of a complex for some women.

As a general rule, female body hair is frowned upon. Anyone with armpit or leg hair is considered to be careless and dirty, and now men are expected not to show too much body hair either. Yet, few are aware of how body hair helps keep the skin hydrated and repels harmful bacteria.

There are many ways to get rid of your hairs: shaving, plucking, or even pulling them out.

But in the end, what is the use of hair? No hair is superfluous, embarrassing, or dirty and there are more reasons to keep them than to wax them.

Read on for more detailed information on the function of female hair, so you can make an informed decision on what to do with it.

What is the function of hair? Introduction

Everyone has hair, whether they are men or women. They are present on almost all the epidermis, are more or less visible, and our body has approximately 5 million hairs.

So why are they so undesirable and, more importantly, why do we wax?

Depending on the era and fashion, we remove it from certain areas but keep it on other body parts.

Prehistoric flint razors were originally used to fight parasites before social and aesthetic norms were imposed.

Egyptian women waxed from head to toe in ancient times, and ancient statues depicted hairless bodies. In the Middle Ages, full-body hair removal was practiced, including the eyebrows and the top of the forehead.

The common thread is a rejection of hair. Indeed, hair was associated with animals and the lower classes who had neither the means nor the time to get rid of it.

Until the 20th century, female hair was left more or less alone. But then things changed.

New clothing fashions are discovering women’s bodies, and we are advised to wax everywhere.

We start using depilatory creams and come up with razors for women. Waxing the legs and armpits is the norm. Then we are also advised to wax all parts of the body, even the most intimate ones.

Currently, our society is largely intolerant of female hair. And yet our hair is far from being unsightly and useless.

Hair is good for your health

Hairs are useful and even indispensable. Indeed, they regulate body temperature. For example, they bristle when we get goosebumps to maintain a layer of warm air on the skin.

Another use of hair is to keep the sweat closer to the skin, under our armpits, to keep us cool.

Hair also acts as a physical barrier against microbes, allergens, bacteria, and dust. Eyelashes and eyebrows protect our fragile eyes, and our nose hairs protect our respiratory system.

Pubic hairs are the shield of our genital area. Completely waxed women are 70 times more prone to infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

Also, it’s time to put down the cliché that hair is dirty. On the contrary, keeping your hair is much more hygienic.

One could believe that hair promotes foul odors by retaining sweat under the armpits and genital area.

And yet, the only culprits here are the bacteria present on the skin, not the hair.

Hairs protect our skin

Our skin also needs hairs and their follicles. A few hundredths of an inch deep, we find hairs, melanocytes involved in UV protective tanning, and keratinocytes.

The latter produce the keratin that forms the stratum corneum. The skin is waterproof, supple, and protected from cold, heat, and UV rays, thanks to keratinocytes.

Sebaceous glands are almost all attached to our hair. In fact, they secrete sebum in the follicle before it flows down the hair and out through our pores to form the skin’s protective hydrolipidic film.

Without hair, the skin is less well hydrated and lubricated. And this can be problematic in the pubic area: removing pubic hair can expose the vulva to dryness and irritation.

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Can we remove hair without damaging our skin?

There are several techniques to get rid of hair. But is there a method that is more effective than another and will not attack the skin?

Depilatory creams

They act chemically to cut the bonds between the different components of the hair. Depilatory creams are most often made of strontium thioglycolate salts and have a very high pH. As a result, redness and irritation are inevitable.

In addition, they contain kerosenes, silicones, aggressive surfactants, and synthetic perfumes, all of which serve to mask their unpleasant smell. However, these ingredients are the perfect combo for everything bad for the skin.

Avoid depilatory creams if you have sensitive skin or are prone to eczema.

The razor

It is a practical and fast technique but comes at the cost of cuts, irritations, stripping of the hydrolipidic film, and problematic substances in shaving gels.

Moreover, waxing with a razor gives a super fast regrowth and requires frequent repetition of the operation.

The razor can also cause itching and red spots, especially on the bikini area: beware of compulsive scratching that irritates the skin even more.

Waxing

Hot wax should not be used, especially at home and if you have sensitive skin or circulatory problems.

Choosing cold wax? It will pull on the hair, and the skin doesn’t like that at all, especially in the armpits and bikini area.

In addition, some commercially available wax strips contain allergenic fragrances, endocrine disruptors, synthetic waxes, and kerosene from hydrocarbons.

All these are ingredients that are harmful to the skin.

Permanent hair removal

It can be done with a laser or pulsed light, avoiding repeated irritations. The problem with this type of hair removal is that there is a high risk of burns and the permanent destruction of hair bulbs and, consequently, of the sebaceous glands.

This can be catastrophic for the skin and the genital area.

The electric epilator

This technique is less bad for the skin but it’s not very ecological and hair removal can be painful.

No hair removal technique can avoid the risk of ingrown hairs with redness, swelling, or infected spots that often leave deep scars.

Consequently, hair removal is an aggression for the skin.

Waxing less, waxing better

Restrictive, unhealthy and stigmatizing: there are few arguments in favor of hair removal.

The body-positive movement claims the right to keep one’s hair as a powerful symbol of liberation. Indeed, on social networks of activists, we can see more and more photos of hairy legs or armpits.

Hair remains undesirable on a female body. Someone with arm or leg hair is depicted as dirty, disgusting, not sexy, not feminine, ugly and sloppy.

Body positive activists themselves emphasize their difficulties in freeing themselves from hair removal from their legs or armpits.

Indeed, we were taught not to keep our hair since we were little. It’s simple. Look in the media, catalogs, and advertisements: female hair is absent.

So if you really must wax, it’s best to do so as little as possible and adopt several good practices:

  • Some body parts should never be waxed entirely, such as the pubic area. For other body areas, such as underarms, try to leave them alone if the hair is not visible.
  • Change your razor blades regularly as they are a natural breeding ground for bacteria and a guarantee of injury and irritation.
  • Shave on clean skin in the direction of growth to avoid irritation and ingrown hairs. Never shave dry!
  • Forget about industrial shaving products: choose a cold-saponified soap or a vegetable oil.
  • Never use a razor on injured or irritated skin.
  • Always use post-waxing care, which is essential to repair the hydrolipidic film and avoid ingrown hairs.
  • Pay attention to the composition of your cosmetics: shaving or depilation weakens your skin, which becomes more permeable. For example, if you have waxed your underarms, choose a 100% natural deodorant without any controversial or irritating substances.

What is the function of hair? Conclusion

Hair is essential to keep our body in good health. There are many hair removal methods, but it is crucial to choose the method that will be the least aggressive to your skin.

Even today, the media shows us so-called perfect skin that is free of hair while few are aware of the basic function of hair.

However, it is interesting to note that more and more women are starting to show off their female hair. If today’s society trivialized hair on the female body, it would be understood that hair is useful and not at all anti-hygienic.

The important thing is to accept yourself as you are, with or without hair!

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More