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Why are bald heads so shiny, when the skin elsewhere on your body isn't? © Getty images

Why are bald heads so shiny, when the skin elsewhere on your body isn't?

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It's all because of the vellus hairs and sebaceous glands.

Asked by: Dave Jefferies, Barrow-In-Furness


Most of the skin on your body is actually covered with tiny hairs called vellus hairs that give your skin a slightly velvety, peach-fuzz look. With male pattern baldness, the hair follicles shrink and turn into skin cells, so there are no hairs at all – not even vellus hairs.

But the scalp is particularly shiny because of the sebaceous glands. These secrete oil and are found all over our skin, but the scalp has a lot more and this oil coats the skin and provides a more uniform reflective surface. What’s more, studies suggest that more active sebaceous glands could actually play a role in early hair loss.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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