Monday, May 23, 2011

Quench The Thirst of Frizzy Hair

By Diana Dudas


It seems like such an enigma. Of the hundred or so emails I receive daily, the same question pops up endlessly: "Why is my hair so frizzy and dry, coarse or brittle?" The answer lies with moisture deficiency.


Oil and Water

90% of us suffer with dry brittle or frizzy hair because our hair is deficient of water.
There is a certain preconceived notion that has been passed on from generation to generation: the idea that our hair is dry because we are lacking in natural oils.


We are told that we should nurture our hair by brushing vigorously 100 times a day or conditioning with hot oil treatments and cholesterols. If we do all of these things, then we are sure to be blessed with beautiful, shiny and healthy locks. This might be the case if you have hair that is not chemically treated. But this is certainly not the case once you have subjected your tresses to harsh chemicals such as bleaches and alkaline permanents, or if you have naturally curly hair.


Naturally Curly Hair


Those of you who have curly hair have these curls because of a curvature of the hair follicles. Under a microscope, curly hair would have a definite bend in it. Where the hair curves it compels the cuticle (the outer layer of the hair) to lift.


The Cuticle


Under a microscope, A cuticle is similar in appearance to shingles on a roof. When the hair is in good condition and has good porosity the tiles or cuticle layers are tight together and in perfect in shape, giving the hair a smooth appearance. This makes light reflect off the hair, enhancing shine. When hair is in bad condition, is curly or has poor porosity, the cuticle layers are lifted and sometimes damaged and broken. This makes the hair feel coarse and brittle. It also causes the hair to absorb light, giving the appearance of dull, lifeless hair.


Porosity


Porosity is the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. The best way for me to explain this is to would be for you to imagine a sponge. First of all imagine a brand new sponge. It will have tiny holes in it, and when you immerse it in water, it will soak up a large quantity and be able to hold that liquid for a long period of time. This is because it has good porosity. Now imagine an old sponge. Its holes have become damaged and distorted. It might even be torn in some areas. When you immerse this sponge in the same amount of liquid, it will absorb far less and will certainly not be able to retain the moisture so readily.


It's the same with hair. Hair that has poor porosity will not be able to absorb or retain moisture as well as hair that has good porosity, making hair permanently dry.


Hot oil treatments

Tradition has taught many of us that lavishly applying oil will give us the soft, shiny hair that we all desire. More often than not, however, the opposite takes place. Most oils do not have the ability to penetrate into the hair shaft. Nor do heavy cholesterols. What they will do is to lay on top of the cuticle and coat it. This may give the hair some brilliance, but it also causes product build up.


Product build up

Once the hair is coated, your problems will commence. First of all, the moisture that our hair so desperately needs will not be able to permeate through the wall of the build up. Moisture is then unable to find its way underneath the cuticle layer.

For hair to be in tiptop condition is has to have a moisture (water) content of at least 8%, and the right balance of protein and natural oil. Most of us produce enough natural oil (sebum), to keep our hair healthy, but lack the necessary moisture. After having a chemical service your moisture level will drop as low as 2%, causing drying and split ends. The same will happen with constant use of blow-dryers and hot styling tools, such as curling or flat irons. If the moisture level is not restored to its optimum 8% by the use of good moisturizing products your hair will ultimately become brittle and possibly break.

What to do

You need to give your hair lots of TLC, with shampoos and intense conditioners that will help to repair damaged cuticles, and improve the porosity, elasticity and general health and appearance of your hair. Avoid product build up by using products that contain natural ingredients. Also avoid hot oil treatments, heavy cholesterol type conditioners, petroleum-based and silicone-based products. Also hairsprays, mousses and gels that have a high alcohol or butane content.

Those of you with naturally curly, wavy or frizzy hair, those of you who use hot styling tools or who chemically treat your hair, will need to give your hair extra nurturing by supplying it with the necessary nutrition and moisture that it needs. Sun worshippers, make sure that your hair care products have sunscreen properties to protect your hair from the damaging affects of the UV rays.

Summary

Our hair needs moisture, moisture and moisture! Who needs to add moisture more than most? People with naturally curly hair, chemically treated hair, those who use hot styling tools or people who live in hot sunny and arid climates.

Diana Dudas is a trichologist with more than 28 years of hair care experience both in the U.K. and the United States.
Optimum condition