Babies and children are lovely little beings, far more perfect than those of us in the latter phases of our life. Their innocence is refreshing, their curiosity inspiring. Time spent with tots can be powerful, as their purity has the ability to restore a strong belief in human goodness. Let's take a look at why children's hair is different from adults.
When my kids were born, my loved ones immediately asked about the presence of hair. While I was thrilled to report that both of my babies were born with a bit, I was struck by the noticeable difference in their strands. A simple observation verified that it was not the same as mine, and a bit of research helped me realize that science had an even better explanation:
Hair Structure (shown left):
Hair strands are rounder when children are young and tend to flatten with increasing age. The medulla, the central core of the hair, is a developmental characteristic that is also related to age. The presence of a medulla is often associated with coarser hair. Naturally, hair tends to be softer and finer in childhood as a result of the absence of a medulla.
By the 22nd week of pregnancy, a fetus’s head has one million hair follicles! This is the largest number a person will have, as new ones don’t appear throughout the lifespan. Hair density decreases as our bodies grow.
Hormone levels are subdued during infancy. Sebum, hair’s protective waxy coating, builds every 2-3 days in the average adult. Babies and children with sensitive skin, however, experience much longer intervals. As a result, daily washing is not required. In the pearly phases of life, the chemical structure of the hair is still in the formation stage.
Children’s hair tends to darken with age, most rapidly between six and 18 years old. Because young hair has less melanin (pigment) than mature strands, it is more transparent than adult’s. Transparency decreases with age, so younger hair might appear cooler (less red) in appearance.
As my journey into motherhood began, I was flooded with advice from magazines and opinionated women on how to best care for my children. While everyone’s intentions were surely good, I felt lost when it came to my kiddos hair. Though there seemed to be an abundance of gadgets on the market made specifically for children, the limited number of haircare options left much to be desired.
Megan Gage is the founder of Hot Tot Children's Haircare, a professional children's line. Her company offers a complete selection of specialized products designed to cleanse, condition and style. Megan is an advocate for natural products and loves working with children. She lives with her family in Colorado and recently became business partners with Mark Cuban after presenting her products on ABC's Shark Tank.