Thursday, January 17

Get To Know Your Hair

Everyone dislikes aspects of their hair and everyone struggles at one point or another to get their hair to do what they want. Hair products may not be working for you or maybe you can't figure out why your hair is so dry. Get to know your hair and find out the answer...

The Hair Structure
  • Cuticle- The tough outermost layer off the hair that is visible to the eye. Think of it like a protective wall around your hair stand. You have to penetrate this layer to get effective results from chemicals and hair products. 20% of hairs strength.
  • Cortex- The middle layer that gives your hair elasticity and holds 80% of the hairs strength.
    • This contains the mixed melanin that determines your natural hair color.
  • Medulla (pith/core)- The innermost layer of the hair. Some people can be missing this part of the hair strand.
An open cuticle is an unprotected hair strand that's missing its armor. This can be bad or good depending on your personal needs. If you find that hair products are just sitting on your hair then you may need to open the cuticle to let them penetrate to the cortex. If you have color that seems to fade fast or dry brittle hair your cuticle may never be closing.
How do you open the cuticle?
  1. Heat- Heat tools
  2. Warm Water
  3. Alkaline Chemicals
Extremely Raised Cuticle 
Slightly Raised Cuticle
How do you close the cuticle?

After you've opened the cuticle you need to seal it back down again to lock in whatever product you've placed in your hair. Whether that be color or a hair product. A sealed cuticle is a shiny smooth cuticle!
  1. Cool water rinse after conditioning
  2. Apple cider vinegar treatment
  3. Smooth products into the hair in a downward motion from root to end
  4. Acidic hair products
  5. Cold Air (winter months)
Smooth Cuticle
Hair Texture
The thickness or diameter of a single strand of hair. Different parts of the hair can have a different texture.
  • Large Diameter- Coarse Hair
  • Medium Diameter- Medium Hair
  • Small Diameter- Fine Hair

Your hair color is distributed through the hairs cortex differently according to the hairs texture
  • Fine Hair- Melanin granules are grouped tightly together so it takes to hair color faster resulting in a deeper our darker pigment.
  • Medium Textured Hair- Has an average reaction to color. The most common texture.
  • Coarse Hair- Has loosely grouped melanin granules, so it may take longer to process color. Stronger than fine hair.
The number of hairs per square inch. The more hairs per square inch the thicker the hair is.You can have thin hair but a lot of it. That's the difference between texture and density. The average hair density is about 2,200 hairs per 1 square inch. The average head of hair contains around 100,000 hair strands.

Below are the average number of hairs on a human head going by natural hair color.
  1. Red- 80,000... lowest density
  2. Black- 108,000
  3. Brown- 110,000
  4. Blonde- 140,000... highest density
The ability of the hair to stretch and return to its original length without breaking. This indicates how strong your hair is. This can also lead to shrinkage with curly or kinky hair textures. Wet hair stretches up to 50% of its original length without breaking. Dry hair stretches to about 20% of its original length.

  • Low Elasticity- Brittle and breaks easily. May not be able to hold a curl. This can be caused by over processing. When doing chemical services use a milder solution with a lower pH to reduce damage and prevent overprocessing.

What is Porosity?
Porosity refers to the hairs ability to absorb water.
  • Hydrophobic- Healthy hair with a compact cuticle layer. This type of hair is naturally resistant to being penetrated by water and moisture. (Your hair products)
  • Hydrophilic- This is porous hair that has a raised cuticle layer allowing it to absorb moisture easier.

Levels Of Porosity
  • Low Porosity- Has a tight cuticle making it harder for moisture and chemicals to penetrate like hair products and color. Use more alkaline chemicals on this hair. Coarse hair naturally is low in porosity and resistant. Color processing times will be longer on this type of hair.
  • Average Porosity- Normal porous hair. The cuticle is slightly raised. Chemicals and hair color take to this hair faster than low porosity hair and can result in a cooler tone.
  • High Porosity- Overly porous hair its usually damaged and the cuticle is lifted. It feels dry, fragile, and brittle. It rejects warmth when color is applied so it takes to color quickly resulting in a deeper and darker pigment. A raised cuticle never lays back down to seal in the color so it can bleed or fade rapidly after each shampoo.

What causes overly porous hair?
  1. Permed Hair
  2. Color Treated Hair
  3. Bleached Or Lightened Hair
  4. Chemically Relaxed Hair
  5. Chemically Straightened Hair (keratin treatments, Japanese or Brazilian blow outs)
Porosity Test
  1. Take several strands of hair from the hairline, temple, crown, and nape area to test. You can use this method to check for you're hairs elasticity and texture as well.
  2. Do not remove the hairs but instead hold the end of the group of hairs in your left hand at the ends.
  3. Run your thumb and forefinger from ends to scalp. Observe your hair wet and dry.
  • Feels Smooth & cuticle is compact dense and hard = resistant or low porosity
  • Feel a slight roughness = porous
  • Feels very rough, dry, or breaks = highly porous or overprocessed.
  1. Fill a glass at least 6 inches or more with water 3/4(almost) full.
  2. Let the water sit until it gets to room temperature.
  3. Remove 1-3 hairs from a hidden spot on your head.
  4. Lay one hair on top of the water being careful not to bump or move the glass.
  5. Watch to see how the hair sinks from every angle.
  • If your hair is overly porous it will sink quickly.
  • The lower the porosity the slower it will sink
  • This test is not as accurate as the other.
pH Level System
The pH scale has a range from 0-14
  • A pH of 7 is neutral (water)
  • A pH below 7 is acidic (closes the cuticle)
  • A pH above 7 is alkaline (opens the cuticle)
  • The natural pH of hair is between 4.5 and 5.5.

When you use any chemical texture service it raises your hairs pH from neutral to an alkaline state to soften and swell the hair. It swells in order to open the cuticle layer and allow the chemicals to penetrate the cortex layer. This is how chemical texturizers like perms and relaxers change the natural hair texture.
  • Overly porous resistant hair needs a less alkaline chemical solution with a lower pH to prevent additional overprocessing and damage. 
  • Low porosity hair needs more of an Alkaline solution to raise the cuticle layer and allow even saturation and processing.
My Hair Is Dry!
Dry hair can look lifeless and dull with its lack of oil. It can lead to dandruff which can cause an itchy scalp and discomfort. This can be caused by the sebaceous glands in your skin not producing enough oil.

Causes Of Dry Hair:
  1. Overuse of heat tools
  2. Chemical relaxers
  3. Chemical perms
  4. Shampooing to often
  5. Using shampoo with sulfates
  6. Swimming in chlorine (pool, hot tub)
  7. Climate (exposure to the sun)
  8. High mineral content in local water
  9. Some medications
  10. Long term illness
  11. Nutritional deficiency
10 Tips For Dry Hair:
  1.  If you wash your hair with shampoo daily you may be doing more harm than good. On average try to wash your hair a minimum of 3 times a week and no more than 5 times a week.
  2.  Stop using shampoo containing sulfates because they are detergents that are in 80% of commercial shampoos. Detergents dry out your scalp even more by stripping the natural oils your body secretes from your scalp. More acidic shampoos are better for the hair with a pH between 4.5 and 6.7.
  3. Don't Scrub your head with your fingernails because it can create tiny surface abrasions on the scalp. If you experience burning during chemical services this may be why. You can also break off hair and irritate your dandruff. Use your finger tips instead to help blood circulation and stimulate the oil glands.
    • After rinsing your conditioner out rinse the hair with cool not cold water to seal the outer layer of your hair back down. This will help keep the moisture in your hair and add shine.
  4. Watch out for alcohol because this product is very drying to anyone's hair especially those who have dry hair already. Hair products like mousse commonly contain this ingredient.
  5. Read the ingredient list on everything before buying any product. If it contains alcohol or sulfates put it down. Even if  a product says "sulfate free" on the front that may not be entirely true.
  6. Check your kitchen because its full of great things to help with shine and breakage. 
    1. Eggs
    2. Yogurt
    3. Mayonnaise
    4. Milk
    5. Lemon
    6. Avocado
    7. Banana
    8. Honey
    9. Beer
    10. Extra virgin olive oil
    11. Vinegar
    12. Apple cider vinegar
    • Vinegar is an awesome conditioner that is great for cleanliness and adding shine. It can also help improve dandruff. All you need a a tablespoon in your hair as you rinse it. You can keep this in a travel sized bottle to keep in the shower. Massage it into your hair before you use a sulfate free shampoo to remove product buildup and dirt. It wont strip all of the oil out of your hair but will help give your hair an extra cleansing.
  7. Add moisture to your hair with deep conditioning treatments. Overnight conditioners work well where you sleep in a shower cap. If this isn't an option for you try sitting under a dryer with conditioner in your hair for 30-45 minutes to assure the moisture penetrates your hair. You can get single use deep conditioning packets for around a dollar at Sally Beauty Supply. Companies like Miss Jessie's give away free samples a couple of times a year. You can also apply conditioner to your dry scalp to help.
  8.  Try a hot oil treatment which can be homemade or store bought. They add moisture, relieve itching, and add shine to your hair. Your hair will feel softer and more manageable.
  9. Don't brush wet hair but instead use a wide tooth comb to reduce hair breakage. Brush your hair lightly when dry if needed. Try a boar bristle or vent brush because both are easier on hair strands. Boar bristle brushes also promote shine to help the dull look of dry hair.
  10. Avoid heat because it will dry your scalp and hair out more and cause breakage to fragile dry hair. Try the cold or low setting when drying your hair.
My Hair Is Oily!
Oily hair looks and feels like it has a greasy buildup on the scalp and an oily coating on the hair. Your sebaceous glands could be overly producing oil (sebum) or you could be overly shampooing your hair. Greasy or oily hair can cause acne and potential hair loss.

Causes Of Oily Hair:
  1. Overactive Sebaceous/oil glands (over stimulation)
  2. Over use of shampoo (cleansing daily)
  3. Higher hair density (more hair = more sebaceous glands)
  4. Puberty (hormones)
  5. Genetics
  6. Improper use of hair products (to much hair product)
  7. Lack of hair cleansing (poor personal hygiene)
  8. Unhealthy diet (eating greasy junk food)
10 Tips For Oily Hair:
  1. Look for hair cleansers that moisturize and say "clarify" or "oil-reducing" on them.
  2. Try shampooing less to reduce the overactive oil glands or shampooing more if your oil build up is caused by not cleansing enough. Once you strip the oil from your hair with shampoo containing sulfates your body works double time to replace what oil it had lost. This causes your scalp to produce more oil over time versus reducing the oil.
  3. Only apply shampoo for oil on oily parts of the hair. Because oil reducing shampoos can be harsh on the hair try to avoid getting it on the parts of your hair that aren't oily. You can strip the hair of natural oils this way. 
  4. Do not apply conditioner to your scalp but instead apply it mid shaft and down to your ends.
  5. Always rinse the hair with hot water to ensure the cuticle opens and releases the oil from your hair.
  6. Try hair products that contain alcohol to attract oil like mousse, gel, or pomades reducing buildup.
  7. Avoid touching or combing your hair as often as possible. The more you touch your hair the more you stimulate your oil glands. You can also transfer oil to and from your scalp causing a buildup quickly.
  8. Avoid bangs that sit on your forehead because you can transfer oil to and from your hair to your skin. This can cause severe acne and excess oil in the front of your hair.
  9. Try not to use oil based makeup and skin care products.
  10. Find a go to up-do for when your hair becomes greasy throughout the day while you regulate your shampooing. Getting your hair off of your face will spare you acne and excess oil transfer to your hair from your face.
Everyone's hair is different and everyone has daily struggles with their hair. I hope this post will help you bond with your hair more and to understand  why your hair does the annoying things it does! Take a deep breath and try to go through life one good hair day at a time!

~"Some of the worst mistakes in my life were haircuts" - Jim Morrison~


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