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Author Topic: Why does sunlight bleach hair?  (Read 25638 times)

Offline thedoc

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Why does sunlight bleach hair?
« on: 28/09/2013 22:54:46 »
If melanin causes the colour of our skin and our hair why does our skin go dark and our hair go light in the sun?
Asked by Rachel, Manchester


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« Last Edit: 28/09/2013 22:54:46 by _system »


 

Offline chris

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Why does sunlight bleach hair?
« Reply #1 on: 27/09/2008 22:56:45 »
Hi Rachel

the reason is that hair is a filament of protein that's produced by a hair follicle and extruded out through the skin. Within the hair follicle populations of cells called melanocytes add forms of melanin called phaeomelanin and eumelanin to the hair, giving it its colour.

But once the hair leaves the follicle and grows out onto your scalp it is beyond the reach of the melanocytes and therefore the melanin it carries cannot be replaced; sunlight falling on the hair can therefore photolyse (break apart) the melanin molecules, bleaching the hair.

Skin is different. A suntan is the result of damage to the basal layers of the skin by ultraviolet rays. This UV stimulus triggers melanocytes to increase their activity, adding more melanin to the overlying skin. As the cells are present, more sun means more UV and this means more melanocyte activity meaning more melanin. Unlike the hair the permanent presence of the melanocytes means they can alter the composition of the overlying skin.

Chris
 

Offline thedoc

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Why does sunlight bleach hair?
« Reply #2 on: 02/10/2008 12:04:25 »

 

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