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Integral lipids of human hair


It has long been recognized that hair is coated with nonpolar lipids originating in the sebaceous glands, and recently it has been shown that hair also contains cholesterol sulfate and small amounts of ceramides, similar to those found in the keratinized portion of the epidermis. In the present study, it is demonstrated that significant amounts of several additional lipids are tightly associated with hair in such a way as to be highly resistant to solvent extraction.

These integral hair lipids included cholesterol sulfate (3.3 mg/g of extracted hair), cholesterol (0.6 mg/g), fatty alcohols (0.2 mg/g) and free fatty acids (4.3 mg/g). The principal fatty acid, comprising 40% of the total fatty acids, was identified as 18-methyl-eicosanoic acid by cochromatography with authentic standard on gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) and by mass spectrometry (MS).

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equivalent chain lengths


gas-liquid chromatography


mass spectrometry


thin-layer chromatography


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Wertz, P.W., Downing, D.T. Integral lipids of human hair. Lipids 23, 878–881 (1988).

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  • Fatty Acid Methyl Ester
  • Stratum Corneum
  • Fatty Alcohol
  • Free Sterol
  • Stearyl Alcohol