Every so often, a bizarre question will materialize in our curious human brains. And once it’s in there, it’s hard to remove it. One example is this thought: How much does hair weigh?
At first glance, this inquiry might seem rather random. However, upon further inspection, there might be something to it. There are several different types of hair, but do they all weigh the same amount? Can your hair affect the number you see on your bathroom scale? Do moisture and wetness affect how heavy your hair is? Is it possible for long hair to be so heavy that it gives you headaches?
Now that we’ve dived into this rabbit hole, there’s no way out. Let’s explore, shall we?
Here is some information to help you understand more about what’s on top of your head.
What is hair?
Let’s talk about the basics. The hair follicle is the little ‘hole’ in our skin that contains individual hair. The bulb is the root where cells multiply to form the hair. The shaft is the actual strand of hair that you see.
It’s made up of dead cells.
A protein called keratin gives hair its resilience and strength; keratin is also present in skin, nails, claws, fur, and feathers.
Each single hair sprouts from a hair follicle. Most hairs are in a growth phase, some have stopped growing, but remain in the follicle, while others have disengaged from the follicle.
How much hair do we have?
The number of hair follicles we’re born with doesn’t change throughout our lifetime. The average person has about 100, 000 individual hairs on his or her head.
The total number of hairs depends on the person and genetics. And here’s a strange fact: the average number of hairs on a person’s head also depends on the natural color of the hair!
Black and brown are by far the most common shades of hair around the globe. Studies have shown that people with blonde and brown hair have the highest number of hairs, followed by those with black hair.
Redheads were reported to have the lowest number of individual hairs.
Hair density studies have indicated that there are approximately 800 to 1300 hairs in each square inch strand.
Yup, that’s a lot of hair!
We lose around 50 – 100 hairs a day. As for the rate of growth, on average, human hair grows six inches per year. Men’s hair tends to grow faster.
Properties of Hair
In addition to giving us something to groom, style, and obsess over, hair does a lot for us. Namely, it keeps us warm in cold weather, allows for the evaporation of sweat to cool us in hot weather, and provides a barrier to protect us from pollution and UV rays outdoors.
Because of the keratin protein, human hair is very strong. One strand alone can withstand a quarter-pound weight.
In fact, the total amount of hair on our head is enough to hold over 10 tons of force. Well, I wouldn’t rush out to test that theory, but it’s a fact nonetheless!
Another characteristic of hair? It’s very lightweight. Which brings us to the question: How much does hair weigh?
How Much Does Hair Weigh?
As stated earlier, the color, texture, and thickness of human hair vary from person to person. One’s hair type is determined by hereditary factors. And this in turn affects the weight of a person’s hair.
Add to this the fact that hair shafts are different lengths, not only from one person to the next but also within one head of hair.
As you can imagine, hair weight is not easy to determine.
Studies have estimated that one six-inch strand of hair weighs a small fraction of an ounce. On average, a head of hair only weighs somewhere between 2 and 6 ounces, depending on length and thickness.
Does long hair make you weigh more?
The majority of household scales are not precise enough to register the difference of a few ounces. Therefore, when you weigh yourself, your hair will not affect what you see on the scale.
Can you lose weight by cutting your hair?
Sorry to disappoint, but the weight of our hair is so insignificant that it cutting it would not make a difference to our body weight. Unless you hold the world record in hair length and have been growing your hair for decades, your bodyweight won’t change after a few snips with the scissors.
Besides, trying to lower your weight by getting a haircut would qualify as cheating on your weight loss program, wouldn’t it??
How much does hair weigh when wet?
When our hair is saturated with water, it does indeed add a tiny bit more weight. The thicker, longer, and more porous your hair is, the more water it can absorb at one time.
However, we’re talking about less than a pound of added weight.
Unless you have an extremely reliable scale, having an accurate measurement would be challenging.
The weight difference would most likely be comparable to the different food, drink, clothing or even the time of day could make when you step on the scale. If you really want a clear idea of your body weight, be consistent each time you step on the scale.
Weigh yourself around the same time of day, without clothing to get an accurate comparison each time.
Can Long Hair Cause Headaches?
Many people with long hair claim that their headaches are directly related to the heft of their locks.
Is this actually possible or just an old wives’ tale?
The truth is, long hair itself is not the culprit. The weight of hair, even long, heavy hair, is well under a pound; it is not enough to cause pain. Your head and body have lots of time to get used to a few ounces of hair as it slowly grows longer.
The pain associated with hair is not constant. It is intermittent and actually linked to one’s hairstyle.
So, if you often wear your hair in a ponytail, bun, or tight braids, you might be causing the headaches yourself.
When the hair is gathered tightly in one place, this adds tension on the hair follicles. A hair shaft has no live cells and no nerves. However, the follicles and scalp have nerves that send pain messages to the brain when they are under strain.
If the hair is pulled too tightly or in a direction against the ‘grain’, it might even lead to hair loss.
Another result of tight hairstyles is the strain it puts on muscles around the neck, face, and shoulders. This might cause pain and poor posture.
What should you do if you experience pain from a hairstyle?
First, take the hair down from its restrictive ‘do’ to give yourself some relief. Avoid wearing a style like this for hours on end. They say ‘beauty is pain’, but honestly, it really isn’t worth it! Consider letting your hair down and choosing different styles and accessories.
Use your fingers to gently massage your scalp and face. Consider going for massage therapy if your shoulders, back, and general posture are suffering. Check out these other recommendations for dealing with ‘ponytail headache’.