Ever wake up feeling beyond superb? You’ve got the perfect outfit picked out with a pair of brand new designer shoes to match. You know exactly what makeup you want to use and how you’re going to accent your gorgeous cheekbones, make your eyes pop, and the perfect shade of lipstick to make every single female who passes you, green with envy. You hop out of bed feeling like a million bucks, already practicing your responses to the compliments that you KNOW you will be getting on your new look. You’re overflowing with excitement and anticipation – then you look in the mirror. What was a beautiful, delicate, soft head of hair that you worked hours on the previous night transformed into a giant mass of dry, limp straw perched on top of your head. This kind of experience is very common and is dreaded by all women. A woman’s hair is her crown and glory. A luxurious mane signifies healthiness and evokes a sense of confidence from the woman rocking it. Whether she wants to go for a natural look or a straight look, it is important that it looks good. Dry, frizzy, limp, flat, or dull hair can ruin any outfit.
Like it or not, bad hair days are inescapable. They can, however, be kept at a minimum. Once you take the time to learn about your hair, you can predict its next move and be ready to combat it with your growing collection of hair products or a home remedy. A few traits that all women should know about their hair are its porosity and how it reacts to moisture and protein. Upon mastering these aspects of your hair, you can take control of it and ensure that you will not have to worry about your hair looking “raggedy” throughout the day.
Moisture and Protein
Hair is made up of 97% protein and 3% moisture. Because its mostly protein, most people have to place more importance on supplementing their “hair diet” with moisture. For relaxed ladies, however, protein is necessary to prevent breakage because their hair is stripped of protein in the relaxing process. For a lot of people, determining whether you are suffering from moisture overload, protein overload, or have a good balance of the two is a difficult task.
In order to come to a conclusion, it is best to do an assessment on wet hair because it best displays all the properties of hair. To perform a wet assessment, you should run a comb through wet hair and observe how your hair reacts.
If your hair:
- stretches slightly then returns to original length – you are balanced, keep it up!
- stretches, then breaks – you need more protein
- stretches with no significant breakage – you need a little more protein
- feels gummy, mushy or weak when wet – you need more protein
- experiences little to no stretching, then breaks – you need more moisture
- or feels dry, tough and tangly when dry – you need more moisture
If you’re suffering from a major protein overload, you can deep condition with a thick and creamy wash out conditioner and sit with a plastic cap covering your hair under a hooded dryer for an hour or so, then rinse with cold water. If you’re suffering from chronic dryness, be sure to moisturize daily with light moisturizers. Heavy moisturizers can leave some hair types feeling greasy and weighed down.
If you are suffering from moisture overload, invest in protein conditioners and protein based moisturizers. A few easy home made remedies for moisture overload are eggs and peanut butter. It may be a bit messy, but it works! Take peanut butter or raw egg and spread it throughout your hair like you would a deep conditioner, let it sit, then rinse and voila!
Porosity is the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Hair that is of a low porosity does not absorb or maintain moisture well. Hair of a high porosity absorbs moisture quickly, but loses it just as fast. The degree of your porosity is directly related to your cuticle layer. A sealed cuticle layer does not allow easy absorption of moisture and a raised cuticle layer loses moisture as fast as it gains it. In order to determine your porosity, grab a strand from four parts of your head (front, back, and sides) then slide your finger down the strand. If your fingers slide down smoothly, then you have a normal porosity, but if they slide down really fast, you have a low porosity. If you experience ruffling or breakage, then you have highly porous hair.
Many women with type four hair have high porosity naturally, but high porosity can also be a result of chemical damage. High porosity from damage is not completely repairable, but can be minimized with protein treatments. Protein can help fill in the holes in the cortex and mend the cuticle layer which helps with moisture loss. Because coarse hair manufactures an overabundance o protein naturally, adding more protein can cause dryness. These types should instead stick to apple cider vinegar rinses and other acidic treatments to combat high porosity.
In order to combat low porosity, try using products that are more basic rather than acidic. Porosity is determined by how tightly closed your cuticle layer is. The cuticles close in acidic conditions and open in basic ones so products with a PH above six will help to raise the cuticle layer. Because hair of a lower porosity has difficulty with absorbing dyes or chemicals, it can be a pain for ladies with a low porosity to dye, relax, perm, etc., their hair. One way to make it easier for dyes and chemicals to take, is to pre-treat your hair with something alkaline to increase your porosity.
Figuring out your hair is the first step toward growing longer, stronger more luxurious hair. Being able to grow hair is one thing, but the ability to retain your growth is necessary for achieving longer lengths. Knowing your porosity and how your hair reacts to moisture and protein increases your likelihood for retention. Getting your hair to behave the way you want it is empowering and gives you the confidence to take more steps on your hair growth journey.