Your outer beauty often reflects your inner health, and that’s especially true when it comes to hair.
To maintain your hair’s strength, you need to work on it as you would your body. That means avoiding damaging vices, giving them the right nutrients, and committing to weekly conditioning sessions.
The perfect strand of hair is built tough: The outer layer, known as the cuticle, protects the inner structural column, or the cortex. But over time, heat styling, sun exposure, and even shampoo can wear down the cuticle, exposing the center to damage.
Do you actually know how healthy your hair is? Well, the answer is closer than you’d think. Are those locks really as though as they seem? Try this to find out if your locks are in tip-top shape or if they need a little extra loving: This quick checklist covers all the bases.
IT’S STRONG ENOUGH TO HANDLE A STRETCH
Hair bounces like crazy in all those commercials because it’s a telltale (albeit exaggerated) sign of hair elasticity, which points to the strength of the cortex in your strands. Ideally, your hair should be able to stretch up to 50% of its original length and return to form without compromising its structural integrity. Take a strand of your hair and stretch it out next to a ruler. If it breaks too soon, then you may need to switch to a gentler shampoo or take it easy on heat styling.
IT RESISTS WATER
How well your hair absorbs water matters more than you might think—highly porous hair means that the cuticles on the surface of your strands are open, leaving the inner cortex vulnerable to damage. The better your hair is at resisting water, the healthier it is.
Take a spray bottle about six inches away from your head, and mist some H20 onto your locks. Do the drops of water sit on your strands, or do they disappear immediately? If it’s the latter, incorporate a deep conditioning treatment into your routine.
IT REFLECTS SHINE EASILY
The cuticles of your hair aka the scale-like shapes that cover a hair strand in close-up images—are supposed to lie flat. The flatter the cuticles, the better your hair will be at reflecting light since it has a smooth enough surface to give off an appearance of shine. A good way to keep them flat is to minimize heat damage: ideally, hair stays shiny when styled at a maximum temperature of 130 to 150 C. Any more and you’d be risking its natural luster.
IT SHEDS AT A REGULAR RATE
Hair fall is perfectly normal! The human head is supposed to shed 50-120 hairs a day— because we typically have 100,000, that’s a drop in the bucket. It’s impossible to keep an accurate count, but when you feel like you’re losing more hair than usual, it could lie because you’re keeping your hair wet for too long. Wet hair increases in diameter by about 16%, leaving it more prone to damage—so gently towel-dry or treat with a hairdryer right after you step out of the shower.
IT’S STYLED WITH PRODUCTS THAT CONTROL AND MANAGE HEAT DAMAGE
Typical hairdryers arc only designed to emit as much hot air as possible without considering the negative effects of heat on hair. By investing in a hairdryer that controls and regulates temperature, you can keep your locks stylish without compromising health.
You can try to buy a hairdryer equipped with a thermistor that measures hair temperature 20 times per second (and stays within the prescribed 150C limit). With guaranteed ease of use— that way, all you have to worry about is what look you’ll be trying today.