top of page
  • The Changes Hair Studio Team

7 Hair Anatomy Terms You Should Know Before Your Next Salon Visit

We’re sure there have been times you’ve been at the salon and heard your hair stylist toss around terms like porosity, cuticle, and keratin without having a clue what they mean. You know us for creating beautiful hair colours, balayages and hair styles, but our team of stylists at Changes Hair Studio in Shelburne, Ontario are also well versed in hair anatomy and structure terminology. We believe it’s also important for you, our client, to fully understand these terms so you can best care for your own hair between salon visits! In this blog, we’re going to explain what 7 of these common words mean and why it’s important for you to know them for future hair salon appointments in Shelburne! 

What is the Hair Follicle?

The hair follicle is a tube-like structure that surrounds the root of each strand that exist in the first two layers of skin. Think of the follicle like skin pores; when a pore becomes clogged from product, dirt or oil, it becomes irritated and may lead to a blemish. Same goes for hair follicles! The human body has over 5 million hair follicles and they are one of the only structures that can generate and regenerate. The main function of follicles is to grow hair but also helps to repair skin after injury. Unhealthy follicles can lead to hair loss but can be reversed by healthy diet, treatment cleansers/products, reduced stress etc. 

What is the Hair Cuticle?

The hair cuticle is the outer part of the hair shaft that protects everything within. It is composed of overlapping cells that look similar to fish scales. Healthy cuticles are smooth and flat and leave hair looking shiny and strong. The cuticle needs to be closed after being opened to maintain healthy hair. Things like hot water, shampoo, and chemical services open the cuticle to penetrate deep within each strand, whereas cold water, conditioner, hydrating masks and treatments help to close the cuticle. Think of the cuticle like a suit of armor for each hair strand- if it’s a well-maintained unit, it should protect all of the layers within. However, if it is neglected, damage causing factors can easily penetrate it leading to more severe damage within.  Make sense?

What is the Hair Cortex?

The Cortex is a layer of the hair strand that is located between the cuticle and the medulla in the hair shaft. It is the thickest layer of the strand and contains most of the pigment that gives hair its color. The pigment found in cortex is melanin, the same pigment that creates skin and eye color. 90% of a hair’s weight lies in the cortex and provides most of the hair’s strength. The cortex is what determines both the color and texture of the hair. When the bonds within the cortex are damaged through chemical or heat treatment, hair may lose strength and elasticity, leading to dull strands and breakage. Are you impressed yet?? We are more than just pretty faces! We are the best hair stylists in Shelburne and are trained with hair expertise and science to make sure we can care for your hair in the best way possible. It gets better… read on!

What is the Medulla?

The medulla is the innermost layer of the hair shaft, and it is so thin that it is nearly invisible. It is soft and very fragile and acts like the marrow of the hair shaft. The medulla may be absent in some hair types. 

What is Keratin?

Hair is made up of 90% keratin. It is a protein that is built up of 18 different amino acids that you get through your diet. Keratin forms the entire hair shaft and strand as well as at the root that acts as a protective barrier at the follicle. When hair is damaged and lackluster, products and treatments infused with Keratin help provide strands with the protein it is so desperately craving. 

What does Hair Density mean? 

Density refers to the number of hair strands growing out of your scalp. The more strands growing out of each square inch of the scalp, the denser the hair is. Density is not to be confused with thickness (or the hair strand's diameter). Thickness refers to the hair's diameter and will determine how resistant to colour the hair will be and how it will reflect light. For example, fine hair or small in diameter will show a lot darker and will be less resistant than coarse hair or thick in diameter. It's one of the most important factors in chemical services.

What does Hair Porosity mean?

Porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. There are 3 categories of porosity: 

Low (cuticles that are close together, water/products don’t absorb easily) 

Medium (more spaced out, holds styles well, takes color well, hair usually looks shiny and healthy)

High (widely spaced, hair tends to break easily and may be frizzy and dry, hair air dries quickly).

There are many contributing factors that lead to the porosity of one’s hair including but not limited to, genetics, chemical and heat exposure, UV rays, etc. 


Now that you’ve got the run down on these 7 commonly used hair anatomy terms, it will be easier for you to understand the method behind your hair service! Understanding these terms will give you more insight as to why our Shelburne hair stylist performs your individual service the way we do, why we are recommending specific products, and why your hair behaves the way it does! We don’t expect you to become well versed in technical hair verbiage though, that’s what the trusted stylists at Changes Hair Studio, the best hair salon in Shelburne, are here for!

You can also check out our full line of products online at

We'll see you at your next salon visit and until then, you can catch us on social media @changes_hair_studio

Cheers, The Hair Experts at your favourite Shelburne hair salon

41 views0 comments


bottom of page