Long, healthy hair – Discover what you really need

If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed that I am pinning a lot of tips for so-called “natural hair”. Yes, that is right, tips most likely catered to afro-american locks.

A quick glance at my profile picture in the sidebar will reveal what you already knew: That is by no means my hair.

Fine, ash blonde and damaged from years of bleach, why on earth would I care what works for a hair type completely opposite to mine?

Long, healthy hair - but how?
Long, healthy hair – but how?

 

I will tell you: I haven’t found anyone around the blogosphere that knows more about the treatment of hair damage then these people, going from processed, straightened and bleached to all healthy and natural.

Curious to see what I have learned?

The Basics

You see, there are countless posts out there on what to eat (eggs and nuts), what to avoid (heat and bleach) and how often to wash/brush/whatever. I will not repeat all that again, as I am sure you have read it numerous times yourself.

And while I would never question the importance of healthy eating, mindful treatment and genetics, I figured that there had to be more. Because I do eat healthy, I limit the heat styling to three times a month max and haven’t bleached my hair in ages, but still the lengths are severely damaged.

So is there a way of actually reviving your strands?

Hm. No.

Hair is dead cells, and nothing you can do will “revive” hair. It is meant to be dead from the moment it grows from your scalp. Only the root is alive and can be nourished, leading to healthier regrowth.

 

So many options...
So many options…

The Intricacies

But does that mean that you have to basically wait for years until the healthy regrowth reaches past your collarbone?

No. While you can´t revive your hair, you can support the lengths and try to give them what they need to be stronger and less prone to breakage.

To understand what this is, we must understand what our hair is. As I said before, it is basically dead cells. And these cells are made up from protein, lipids and amino acids. The main protein our hair contains is keratin, which is actually the main protein in our finger and toe nails as well as in animals hair and horn. We are all created similar, it seems.

With heat styling, bleach and all that fun stuff, the protein (keratin) in our hair is broken down. The small connecting Disulfid-bridges (you don’t need to remember that name) are destroyed and the hair gets weak. Split ends, rough texture and breakage are the results.

To make things a little more complicated, hair, just like skin cells, needs moisture to look healthy and shiny. Dry hair will loose elasticity, break easily and appear dull and frizzy.

You can have too little keratin, but you can also have too little hydration, and adding more keratin to dehydrated hair will not improve its condition. It may, in fact, look even worse.

So is there a way to find out what you need?

 

The Wet Test (aka stretch test)

Of course there is.

It is actually pretty simple: You wash your hair with a shampoo (a clarifying one if you want to be extra thorough), don’t put any other product in. No conditioner, leave-in, heat protectant, oil, you name it! Then you grab one small strand between you fingers and very gently (!) start pulling it in opposite directions.

If your hair stretches about one third and easily returns to it´s former length, all is great and healthy.

If it stretches and stays stretched, it is lacking protein.

If it snaps instantly without stretching, is is lacking hydration.

Here is the link to a short and snappy YouTube video illustrating what I am talking about.

Now please note a few things: This is no 100 % fool proof method. Different strands have different needs, and most hair will lack protein and moisture both.

But if you, like myself, need a hint to avoid cutting everything off in despair, give it a go. It will point you in the right direction.

 

And now that I know?

You are an educated customer and can buy treatments catering to your very needs. Which is always a bonus.

And you can stay tuned for my next post, in which I will share my Deep Conditioning favorites to treat my tresses.

If you were wondering: My hair needs moisture more than anything else.

What does your hair need?

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