Is your hair in good condition?

  • Hair in good condition is clean, moisturized, contains minimal split ends and retains length
  • It is not thinning, excessively shedding, or breaking.
  • It has a shine or sheen meaning a smooth cuticle reflecting light
  • Has good elasticity (it will spring back) and flexibility without snapping
  • Not overly porous.
  • A healthy, person will grow healthy hair at an average rate of one HALF inch per month. That’s 6 inches a year. Give or take an inch but should not be far off from 6. 

A Simple Tress Stress Test:

Give your hair strand a gentle pull. If it stretches and springs back the elasticity is in good health. Poor elasticity is usually a result of excessive heat or chemical treatments of any kind.  Poor elasticity and frequent breakage are clear signs that your current styling processes are damaging your hair.

Remember there are 3 layers to a single hair strand. From innermost to outermost: medulla, cortex and cuticle.

The cuticles determine the elasticity and porosity of hair (hair’s absorption ability). It also protects the cortex. It has 3-10 layers on average. Extremely coarse hair will have as many as 13 or more on one strand. Extremely fine or damaged hair may have few to no cuticle layers. Healthy cuticles are packed tightly together and overlap each other like shingles on a house. 

The cuticle is also the “style layer”.  The condition of the cuticle layers will dictate how well your hair will style. Healthy cuticles will give an appearance of a natural shine or sheen and fullness. Damaged cuticles will produce a dull, rough and torn appearance, fly away and frizzy look.

The fibers in the cortex are sensitive to chemicals and can be easily damaged by chemicals in hair straighteners, dyes and harsh shampoos.  When chemicals reach this layer it can be disastrous.  For hair coloring, the darker the color the more difficult and damaging it is to remove. More frequent coloring runs the risk of damaging both cuticle and cortex layers. 

Can I fix it?

When the cuticle sustains damage, this simply cannot be fixed. The cuticle naturally thins down as hair length increases due to normal weathering.Broken, chipped or missing cuticles and cracks in the hair cannot be permanently fixed. Using hydrolyzed protein can temporarily improve the hair but ultimately this is temporary.

 How to minimize cuticle damage?

1. Use a penetrating oil such as Coconut, Olive, Avocado oil as a pre-wash treatment to prevent the hair shaft from swelling. This in turn may help the cuticle from being raised. This means putting oil on your hair let it sit for as long as you want then  shampoo and condition as usual.

2. Using a conditioning shampoo with no sulfates

3. Hair conditioner use after shampooing has been shown to restore the hair fiber appearance (meaning smooth down the cuticle after shampooing) It also helps with combing and reducing damage to the cuticle during this process . So detangle your hair while its wet with conditioner

NEXT: learn how to grow longer healthy hair

Source: afrokinkilove
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