by Jessica PollyAs a professional licensed cosmetologist I would like to help answer and give advice to people who have questions about why their hair is a certain way and what they can do to fix it with proper hair care.
Many times a client will sit in my chair and I can almost instantly tell if they are the outdoors type, if they love to swim or if they flat iron their hair on a heat setting that is way beyond what they need. I am not a psychic, but your hair tells your story.
Let us begin with some simple science, each strand of your hair is comprised of three layers, the cuticle, the outermost layer; the cortex, the second layer and lastly, the medulla, the very inner most layer. The cuticle is the body guard to the cortex and most major hair changes, such as coloring, chemically straightening or perming must get through this body guard to alter your cortex to achieve what you want. The cortex is where our hair gets all of its wonderful strength and elasticity. Now let us think about that poor body guard, the cuticle. Although it is a tough exterior that is trying to protect the cortex, it can really only take so much of a beating. If you examine the cuticle under a microscope you will see that it looks very similar to scales all laying flat along the surface, on healthy hair that is. Now lets take a look at a few actions that really take a toll on the cuticle:
The wonder we call 'ratting' or 'back combing' the hair, it is a quick and easy way to get some volume in the hair but what you most likely don't know is that when the hair is back combed it is actually roughing up that cuticle and causing those scales to become lifted up and they create an almost hook-like effect. With the scales of the cuticle lifted and with continual back combing, you begin to break down the cuticle more and expose the cortex of the hair, once you start breaking down the cortex of your hair, there is no turning back. The hair becomes brittle, thin and begins to break off.
Another damaging action to the cuticle and cortex is too much heat. Very few people know the temperature they should have their curling iron or flat iron set at, some tools do not even give an option, they just have an on and off switch. These are not good things for your hair.
A little more science, you hair is a protein which is made up of polypeptide chains, and two of the side bonds that form these chains are salt and hydrogen, these side bonds are easily broken and reformed and account for two-thirds of the hair's overall strength and elasticity. Reading 'broken and reformed' probably seems a lot scarier than it actually is, a hydrogen bond breaking down is as simple as washing your hair, the water breaks the bond and then once your hair dries, the bond is reformed. That is why we are able to style our hair with blow dryers, flat irons and curling irons, we are temporarily breaking the side bonds of the hair and once the hair is cooled, the bonds reform. But, with continual use and over excessive heat these bonds begin to become weak, brittle and cause breakage and frizziness.
A great way to protect your hair from your daily heat involved styling routines is to first sse heat protection products on your hair prior to using any tools. You can use heat protecting serums or sprays. I often have clients that are opposed to using products because they feel it leaves their hair greasy. A tip that you must know and use is apply your product from the bottom ends up to about the mid shaft, it should not even touch your scalp. Use the product sparingly, this will help you avoid that greasy feeling.
Use the proper heat for your hair type. As much as I wish I could pop out of this article and show you what heat level to use, I cannot. But I can offer some pointers. The tool should produce a little steam once it's applied to the hair and yes, that is steam, no, your hair is not burning when you see this steam. There is a huge difference between smoke and steam, a little steam, not too much, lets you know your side bonds are being broken and once your hair cools they will be back together again, if you see no steam at all, it is most likely not quite hot enough.
Now let's talk about how I know if someone is the outdoors type and/or loves to swim. The sun takes a toll on your hair, just as it does your skin. Over time, too much sun exposure can cause the hair to become brittle and dry. A great way to avoid this is again, throwing a little heat protector into your hair before leaving for the day and nearly everyone can benefit from a weekly, or at the very least monthly, deep conditioning treatment.
For everyone reading this in the midwest and east looking at photos with snow covering homes; there are still places as Southern Nevada, Southern Arizona, Southern California, Florida and Hawaii that offer plenty of outdoor activities. This is another tip you can also use if you swim in an indoor pool. Ever see blonde hair turn green after a person has been swimming? This is not actually caused from chlorine. It is caused by the chemicals put into the pool to stave off algae, which is commonly copper and when copper mixes with the bleach in the pool it oxidizes and binds to the hair protein and deposits that not so lovely green. A great way to avoid that is by either using a swimming cap or rinsing the hair thoroughly with shower water before entering the pool.
The last question I will answer in this article because I hear it literally every day, how can you make your hair grow faster. Hair grows at the rate of about a quarter of an inch a month. A great way to boost that hair growth is by making sure you are consuming a healthy diet or at least taking a multivitamin. If multivitamins are too harsh, there is a specific supplement called Biotin that promotes the growth of hair and nails. Also, the age old question of will trimming the hair really make it grow faster, no. But, it does take off the stringy and brittle ends. When you have split ends it will cause your hair to split up the shaft, you do not want this. The occasional, minimal, trim is a great way to maintain the healthy and full look you need for beautiful hair.
Remember, you deserve the best and having beautiful, healthy hair is a great way to boost confidence and make you feel gorgeous.
Jessica Polly is a well versed licensed Cosmetologist who has a never ending passion for learning and educating. She has worked in various salons as well as owning her own mobile beauty business that catered specifically to brides. She is a single mother who strives to be the best mommy she can and hopes that her articles can help others discover easy and informative ways to find answers to their beauty needs.