Whenever us women gather together, we always have a conversation about our hair. Mentioning things to our girlfriends like “I wish my hair would grow longer,” to “I should get a haircut, I have way too many split ends,” but what we should really be mindful about is our hair cuticles.
In fact, the hair cuticle is the most essential part of our hair. Not many of us even know what the hair cuticle is. The cuticle layer is the outermost layer part of the hair formed from dead cells that surround the core central fiber of our hair. The cuticle of hair is a thin colourless layer that protects the cortex of the hair.
Placing the science terms aside for a moment and keeping it simple, the hair cuticle is what controls how your hair looks and feels. If one of your hair goals is to grow long hair (who doesn’t want long luminous hair?) the cuticle is the most important factor for hair growth.
The hair cuticle layer consists of protein-based scales that open and close when they are activated. When the scales rise, chemicals and ingredients can pass through the cuticle layer to the control centre of the hair strand. We should place this on our high-priority list because he cortex determines the hair’s strands colour, curl pattern, thickness and texture.
Our hair and scalp have a ph. What happens is the cuticle layer reacts to the pH in substances we use on our hair, this includes water. Healthy range for our hair to be at is an average pH of 4 to 5.5, having the correct pH balance seals the hair cuticles making hair smooth and shiny. The pH scale goes from 1-14 measuring the acidity or alkalinity levels of hair. When the cuticle layer comes into contact with substances that is outside the healthy range of pH range level, our hair will react by opening or raising its scales.
When the hair cuticle is damaged, it starts to fray. The fibers start to looked jagged, and when the light reflects on it, it’s going to look dull. Excessive use of heat and chemical processing can cause damage to the hair cuticle. Environmental elements can cause damage too, like the sun and the wind.
First thing everyone should try to do is to turn the heat down. A lot of us have professional-level-heat-styling products in our own bathrooms and we tend to use them on full blast. The heat wears and tears the hair and causes the cuticle to breakdown. Anywhere between 200-300 degrees is a safe area for our heat styling tools. This may take longer to style our hair but, in the end, it will look and feel much better.
Secondly, we should be washing our hair regularly. Don’t get me wrong, our natural oils are good for our hair but this really depends on our location and if we exercise often. All of these things can add dirt and grease, which differs from our hair natural oils. This dirt and grease will add stress to our hair cuticle. Do not avoid cleansing hair because it is rehydrating it. Which is why it is very important we choose a conditioner that is hydrating.
Thirdly, we should be doing a hair mask once a week. Choosing a hair mask formulated to hydrate our hair will keep the hair cuticle happy and healthy!