What makes healthy hair? Of course, it’s obedience, shine, strength, volume, and… elasticity. However, practice shows that not all ladies understand what hair elasticity is and how important it really is for overall hair health. In this article, let’s find our everything about hair elasticity, keep on reading!
What is hair elasticity?
Hair elasticity is the ability of hair to stretch and return to its initial length without damage. Good elasticity is a sign of the internal hair integrity. Wet hair with normal elasticity can stretch up to 50% of its normal length and return to its original length without damage. Dry hair can be stretched to approximately 20% of its length.
Hair with low elasticity is very brittle and breaks easily when stretched. Such hair doesn’t hold its shape well when styling, it should be dyed and curled with extreme care.
The elasticity of hair is affected by the structure and integrity of the cortex layer, since it’s the layer that bears the main load in the hair during stretching. The cuticle layer is important too — it’s a protective shell for the cortex which helps to maintain its integrity.
Of all the chemical bonds that exist in hair, hydrogen bonds are the most responsible for its elasticity, so it’s important to maintain the right amount of moisture in the hair. Without it, the hair becomes very brittle. Disulfide bonds also affect hair elasticity, however, due to the fact that there are fewer of them in the hair, this effect is not so noticeable.
Elasticity and porosity are very related. Porous hair loses moisture and becomes brittle (inelastic), while inelastic hair itself is often porous. To keep hair elastic, cuticle and cortex damage must be prevented. Thus, you should try to avoid:
- high temperatures without thermal protection;
- chemical procedures;
- frequent shampooing;
- exposure to UV rays and the sun;
- exposure to chlorine from pool water;
- intensive combing, especially damp or wet hair;
- dry wind;
- abrasive styling products.
Types of hair elasticity
- Chemicals use and bleaching
The low elasticity of the hair usually indicates that the hair was previously subjected to very strong influences that violated its internal structure and integrity, and subsequent hair treatment wasn’t performed. Such procedures include perm, chemical straightening, bleaching and severe burnout of hair in the sun. Hair bleaching is especially dangerous, since this treatment opens hair cuticles, leaving your locks exposed to moisture loss.
Any chemical treatments with such hair should be carried out very carefully. You should use only gentle products with low pH values to minimize further damage to the hair structure.
- Curly hair and dryness
If you have dry hair, you probably noticed that it somehow looks pretty porous, the surface of each thin hair is uneven and sometimes even rough. This happens because the upper layer of your hair, which is cuticle, lifts up when your hair is dry. Thus, it loses moisture and natural elasticity. Owners of curly locks definitely know what we mean! Without moisture, curly hair inevitably becomes very dry, brittle and prone to external damages.
The thing is that natural curly hair has quite an uneven shape with dips and lifts. It’s no surprise that cuticle lifts up at the higher points, making your hair vulnerable. That’s why hair elasticity is SUPER important for curly locks.
- Environmental factors
Of course, not only hair structure or chemical/heat treatments can make your locks less elastic. Environmental factors play important role too! Hot wind, blazing sun, heavy rain: all these prevent your hair from being elastic. Hair is affected by any environmental factors, and not only in winter, as many people think. In the summer, everything is much more serious: by the time you run to work under the scorching sun, your hair loses moisture. Or, for example, imagine that you are waiting for a bus in a thirty-degree heat. Your hair definitely won't thank you for that! We can say the same about the rest on the beach or near the pool. While you’re trying to give your body a gorgeous bronze tan, your hair is losing the essential moisture.
We can’t but also mention the dander of various heat treatments, such as hair straightening, curling, etc. Just remember that heat is the #1 hair elasticity enemy because it’s the main reason of moisture loss.
How to test your hair elasticity?
- at home
The most famous method of hair elasticity assessment is the tensile test. Hair elasticity is only tested on wet hair. To do this, take a section of hair at the mid-length or roots (in order to avoid pulling hair). Firmly pinch the wet strand at both ends with your fingers and stretch. According to the result of stretching, you can make an assessment of your hair quality. If, after you release the strand, it returns to its original length without breaking, then the elasticity is considered normal. If the hair breaks easily and doesn’t return to its original length, then the hair has low elasticity.
- at a beauty salon
If you don’t think that home test is suitable for you and prefer a professional consultation, then you can visit a beauty salon where the experienced hair stylist will assess the elasticity of your hair without pulling wet strands. Usually hairstylists can easily say if your hair is elastic or not. They judge by the following factors:
- no breakage
If your hair is shiny, the light bounces off it, your locks are smooth and silky to touch, it means that your hair is elastic enough. On the contrary, if your hair is rough and dry, then you should take necessary measures to improve the situation.
How to maintain and restore hair elasticity?
The main reason for the loss of elasticity is hair damage of various nature and the loss of moisture from the cortex layer. Therefore, in order to restore this, you’ll need to provide a double effect on your locks:
- moisturizing - with the help of moisturizing products (masks, shampoos and conditioners);
- restorative - with the help of restorative products (masks of deep action) with proteins (proteins) in their composition.
If the hair is severely damaged (dull, weak and very stretchy when wet), then you should pay more attention to restorative care (but not limited to it). If hair dryness is associated not with damage, but with a feature of hair structure (for example, curly or frizzy hair), then the emphasis should be on moisturizing care.
Besides, it won’t be hard for you to follow this 5-step routine:
1. Don’t forget to apply conditioner after using shampoo.
2. Use leave-in conditioner for hair styling.
3. Reduce the use of heat devices. If you still need to use them, thoroughly blot your hair with a towel to make your locks as dry as possible, use medium heat and finish your hairstyle with cool air stream.
4. Use a deep conditioner once a week to keep your hair moisturized.
5. Use leave-in conditioners between hair washes to retain moisture.