Hair Types

There are 3 hair types growing on the human body - vellus hairs, terminal hairs and intermediate hairs.

Types of Hair

VELLUS HAIRS

  • Vellus hairs are short and measure to around a centimetre or two long.
  • These hair types contain little or no pigment making the majority of the hairs colourless.
  • Vellus hair follicles are not associated with sebaceous glands (sebaceous glands distribute an oily/wavy substance called sebum which lubricates and waterproofs the skin of hair and mammals).
  • Since vellus hair types are not linked to sebaceous glands it explains why pre- pubertal children do not develop acne or skin problems as vellus hairs are more prominent on children.
  • Women and children have more vellus hairs than males as males are prone to have more terminal hairs present.
  • Vellus hairs have a fine and soft texture, they provide insulation and also help the body regulate its temperature.
  • These types of hair are not classed as cosmetically important as they are grown on the face, fingers, toes, chest and back.
  • Vellus hair growth is not affected by hormones until puberty when androgens are released into the bloodstream and transform the vellus hairs in certain areas of the body into terminal hairs.
  • Women are expected to retain more of their vellus hairs.

TERMINAL HAIRS

Hair Types
  • Terminal hairs develop from vellus hairs during puberty.
  • They are produced by hair follicles with adjacent sebaceous glands.
  • Terminal hair is deeply rooted, pigmented and coarse. It is the type of hair that one attempts to remove in unwanted areas.
  • The hairs are grown on the scalp and around the body.
  • As androgen hormones are of a higher presence in males, terminal hair develops in more areas of the body such as the chest and back.

INTERMEDIATE HAIRS

  • An intermediate hair shows the characteristics of both vellus hairs and terminal hairs.
  • Intermediate hairs contain a moderate amount of pigment although it is less than that found in the terminal hair type.
  • During the balding process, terminal hair follicles and intermediate hair follicles change in such a way that they no longer produce terminal hairs. In these areas hair follicles grow shorter, thinner and lighter vellus hairs rather than the darker and thicker terminal hairs.

To find out more about hair growth, read our pages on The Hair Growth Cycle and Hair Structure.