Elasticity and what it means for our hair

2 Aug

I tried to explain hair elasticity a few days ago on the facebook page and I realised that I needed to do a blog post to explain it properly.  Testing the hairs elasticity can help determine what the hair needs. 

Elasticity, is the hair’s ability to stretch and return to its normal state without breaking.  It is what dictates the hair’s ability to hold its curl, whether it is natural or whether it is created by a wet set on relaxed hair.  Hair with normal elasticity can be stretched when wet to up to about 40% of its original length and will easily return back without breaking.   Hair with low elasticity is brittle and will not return to its original length when released.  It will usually snap or break easily when stretched.  Hair with low elasticity will also not hold a set.  When wet, hair with poor elasticity feels spongy, limp and it tangles easily.  It also stretches excessively without returning to its original position.

The most common cause of low elasticity is the improper use of chemical processing through hair colour, highlights and relaxers.  This is because they are often used too often or left on the hair for too long (or both).  Damage can also be cause by roughly brushing / combing the hair when wet – stretching the hair beyond its limit.  Poor elasticity is also caused by excessive heat styling through flat irons and using hot hair dryers.

So how do you check the elasticity of your hair? 

Take a wet strand of hair from your head (or comb).  Hold the strand of hair between your fingers and stretch it to about 30% of its length.  If the hair strand bounces back to its original length without breaking, you have normal elasticity.  If it does not return to its original length or breaks, you have low elasticity.

What can you do if you do the strand test and realise that your hair has poor elasticity? 

The elasticity of the hair can be addressed by the products we use.  If your hair feels spongy, mushy, overly soft and is stretchy then protein is needed.  If the hair is brittle, stiff and snaps then moisture is needed.  You can address this by using protein or moisture based products.  For protein I personally use Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonnaise as a deep conditioner.  For moisture I use Mizani Moisturefuse.   I also use many water based moisturisers like Organic Root Stimulator Carrot Oil.  There are many products to choose from though.  Just determine if the product is moisture based or protein based.  I determine which type of product to use depending on what my hair needs.  See this post for more on the moisture / protein balance in our hair. 

Also remember to use highlights, hair colour and relaxers correctly and not too often.  Minimise the use of heat on the hair.  There are other ways of straightening hair without resorting to heat.

Hair will change its elasticity from time to time.  This change may be temporary due to factors such as humidity, temperature, the type of shampoo used, the amount of hair spray/gels used, and drying effect of the wind and sun.



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