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What Are the Different Types of Hair?

Terminal hair is the hair found on a person's head, underarms, and pubic region.
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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2014
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There are three different types of hair that exist on the human body. These different types of hair include terminal hair, vellus hair, and lanugo hair. Many people might assume that when a person refers to the various hair types, he is referring to the differences in hair texture or possibly hair covering varying parts of the body. This assumption might be correct in some cases, but not when terminal, vellus, and lanugo hair are being discussed. All three of these types of hair are very different from each other, and only one of these refers to what most people think of as hair.

Terminal hair is the hair found on a person's head, underarms, and pubic region. It is also normally visible on the arms, legs, and occasionally the backs or stomachs in people with lots of body hair. Terminal types of hair are what the average person thinks of when thinking of hair. All terminal hair is connected to oil-secreting sebaceous glands on the skin. Even though almost all body hair is considered terminal hair, the hair in the pubic region and on the underarms can be further broken down into its own subtype of hair, called androgenic hair.

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Vellus hair is what most people think of as peach fuzz. This type of hair is normally very fine and short, usually not more than a few millimeters in length. In addition to being fine, vellus hair is also not very easy to see because it is typically very light blond or translucent in color. This hair generally covers all surfaces of the body but may be more noticeable on the upper lip or on the back of the neck. It is usually easier to see this type of hair on women and young children because they tend to have less body hair than adult men.

Lanugo hair is the hair that covers a fetus inside the womb. The purpose of lanugo hair is to keep the fetus warm, which is essential because fetuses usually do not have enough body fat to stay warm without it. Lanugo hair is typically very soft and does not last long once a baby is born. Babies born with lanugo hair generally lose it within a few days to a week after birth. The loss of lanugo hair is not always obvious because some babies already have a large amount of terminal hair at birth, and the presence of this might help disguise the loss of lanugo hair.

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StarJo
Post 4

It's funny how terminal hair color can change over time. I was born a redhead, which was a shock to my parents, who are both brunettes. Now, I have dark brown hair, as well.

For the first four months of my life, my parents thought they were going to be raising a redhead. I have seen baby photos of myself, and my hair was very bright.

My best friend was born a blond, and now she has hair darker than mine. Parents anxious to know what their child's hair will look like should wait about six months before making any assumptions.

seag47
Post 3

I didn't know that babies were covered in hair inside the womb! I haven't had a lot of encounters with infants, so this is news to me.

Do babies born without any hair on their head except for lanugo keep this until their regular hair grows in, or do they just spend a few months bald? Since a lot of heat is lost through the head, I would think they would have to have some sort of natural scalp covering.

Most infants I have only seen from a distance, so I don't know anything about their hair. I've heard people say that they feel very soft, and I'm thinking maybe this is because of the lanugo.

kylee07drg
Post 2

@Perdido – I know how you feel. I hate having any sort of hair on my face, and mine is worse than some women's vellus hair.

Above my upper lip, where many women have soft peach fuzz, I have what looks more like terminal hair. Fortunately, most of it is blond, but there are a few strands of a darker color, and I have to keep these trimmed down to avoid the mustache effect.

This hair is weird, because it starts out blond, and some strands turn dark about halfway down. So, I can trim off the dark ends and leave the rest. I like to angle the scissors when I'm doing this, so they don't leave blunt, stark ends.

Perdido
Post 1

I have a lot of vellus hair on my jawline and the sides of my face. It isn't that noticeable, except when the light hits me just right. I've never had anyone point it out to me, but I can see it when I look in the mirror closely.

When I first noticed it, it bothered me that I had hair on my face. Granted, it didn't have any pigmentation, so it was nearly invisible, but I felt that, being female, I shouldn't have that much fuzz.

I actually trimmed the vellus hair along the edges of my face with scissors. Of course, it grew right back, but somehow, having it shorter made it seem not as detestable to me.

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