How haircare actually works to ‘repair’ damaged hair. The hair you see is dead so how can products promise to heal or strengthen your strands internally. The hair has no nervous system it’s why you can’t feel it when its being cut. It has no blood or cell regeneration its not a living tissue so you can’t permanently repair your damaged hair. So, this leads me to tell you how does actually haircare work.
The hairs nutrient composition comes from within. The food we eat the water we drink all feed our hair internally through our blood supply. But as soon as the hair emerges from the scalp it’s considered dead. We then need to maintain the delicate nutrient level of the hair’s composition through our haircare as the chemicals we apply topically, the environment or heat styling all compromise the integrity of the hair.
When you apply products topically you are temporarily disguising the damage caused by the environment, chemicals or heat or adding a protective barrier to stop external damage happening in the first place. Akin to wearing makeup on the face it washes off or dissipates from external wear by the environment. Oils, conditioners, masks and treatments that are well formulated can all improve hair texture aiding in softness and shine but they must be applied regularly to maintain the promised results. Well formulated haircare is designed to restructure the exact composition of the hair and you would pick treatments depending on the external damage your hair has been exposed to. Let's look at the hairs composition to give you a greater understanding of what your hair needs in order to be considered healthy.
Hair is made up of proteins, raw elements (COHNS), amnio acids and bonds working together to form the hair fibre. The elements in normal hair consist of Carbon 51%, Oxygen 21%, Nitrogen 17%, Hydrogen 6% Sulphur 5% these elements form bonds which link together the long chain of amnio acids known as the polypeptide chain. We have Hydrogen bonds, salt bonds and disulphide bonds in the hair all making up a third of the hair’s strength. Hydrogen bonds are broken by water or heat and are known as physical side bonds these are important as they allow us to manipulate the hair and form movement when we style because as we dry the hair using rollers or brushes the hydrogen bonds re-join forming your chosen style. It’s also why our hair is in a weaker state when wet and also why our style can drop or frizz when humidity or weather changes. Salt bonds are also known as physical side bonds which are affected by strong acidic or alkaline solutions that’s why it’s important to use products that are formulated at the correct pH. Disulphide Bonds are chemical side bonds these can only be broken by chemicals applied topically like a perm solution breaks the disulphide bonds while your hair is wound around a rod a neutraliser is then applied to re-join the bonds which is how your curl pattern is formed when visiting your hairdresser for a permanent wave. More on pH here.
Now that you understand the importance of the hairs composition which may give you a greater insight in what your hair needs depending on what you externally expose your hair to, let’s move on to the importance of well formulated products.
Let’s take a look at protein for an example since it makes up to 90% of our hair. Protein is made up of amnio acids that is what forms the keratin in the hair. Think of this as the building blocks of the hair, but protein on its own will not add strength to your strands when applied topically because lipids (think the glue that holds the building blocks together) needs to be present in order to hold the protein in place, these need to have a small molecular weight in order to reach the cortex, but if that nutrients molecular weight is small enough to get in it’s small enough to get out right? That’s when pH comes in to play, your hair needs a cohesive pH that contracts the cuticle to trap those nutrients in place for long lasting results but depending on the porosity of your hair your cuticle can open and close easily resulting in nutrient loss. You then need to add a protective barrier on the hair shaft to stop the cuticle opening between treatments. This system is the ideal formulation for long lasting results but it’s still not permanent because when you forget to apply topically daily or stop using a product the hair will go back to its damaged state because hair is dead.
So how do you know as a consumer what to pick and how to apply as surely that must be a contributing factor to the products working. The questions you need to ask yourself first is, is my scalp health compromised? If it is you need to address this first, as your scalp is the home to your hair health. If your diet is missing vital hair loving nutrients then your hair health may be compromised before it’s began which means topically you hair may need that particular nutrient in your haircare routine. Porosity is important because it tells us how easily you can absorb and retain nutrients. Low porosity has an overlapping cuticle meaning it’s harder to get nutrients in topically this means you’d be prone to build up if not applied correctly or high porosity when you have gaps missing in your cuticle so nutrients can’t stay in place and restore hair health optimally. We can’t all have normal porosity that absorbs and retains nutrients however ideal that may seem. You can read more about porosity type here and recommendations on applying products.
When the damage is done, we externally need to apply products whether your hair needs hydrating (humectants) moisturising (emollients) strengthening (protein) reinforcing (bond treatments) these are best served as a full routine as I mentioned earlier the hair is a complex system that needs all levels of nutrition in order to retain nutrients. Because too much of good thing can lead to a bad thing. Balance is key and you will only find that perfect balance through balanced haircare that is applied at the correct stage in your routine to retain the results you are after.
So is salon quality or high quality really any different to drugstore or supermarket brands if your hair is considered dead. Yes, salon quality has been formulated to reach a standard that considers the complete hair health with the highest grade of actives take our Halo Hero Saccharide Isomerate that has 72hrs worth of hydrating and moisturising properties. Why is this important? Because it’s telling you that your hair will hold on and retain these vital nutrients for 72 hrs before needing to be reapplied. We consider the exact composition that each hair and scalp type needs in order to retain the nutrients your hair needs, locking them in place for longer.