Human Anatomy and Physiology

What is a Cortex in the hair and what does it do?


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Structure of the hair shaft

Your smooth, glossy hairs have a more complicated structure than you might think. Each one can be compared to a tree: all its moisture lies in its centre, behind a tough outer layer of protective bark. If the 'bark' of the hair is well looked after the whole hair remains in good condition. If the 'bark' is stripped off to expose the centre the hair may break.

The centre part of the hair, called the cortex, makes up most of the hair shaft. It is the cortex that gives hair its special qualities such as elasticity and curl. The cortex is packed with strands of keratin, lying along the length of the hair. These keratin fibres are made of the low-sulphur keratins, and are compressed into