South Africa has been rocked by a heated hair debate and it has raised a lot of questions about what healthy hair looks like, and what actually defines healthy hair…
While we can disagree on hairstyling methods and our personal preference; according to science there are only two types of hair: healthy hair and unhealthy hair, and they both look different on everyone.
What the texture of your hair says about its health
Hair texture, colour, and rate of growth are uniquely determined by each person’s DNA which informs the structure of your hair follicles.
Round follicles form the spectrum for straight hair, while ribbon-shaped follicles form the spectrum for a variety of wavy, curly and kinky hair types. This determines your hair type.
According to askthescientists.com, “There isn’t just one way to describe all hair colours and textures. Hair grows on a spectrum, with different degrees of straight and curly, dark and light. You can see these variations when you look at the hair of your parents or siblings. No two heads of hair are identical,” they say.
So how do I determine if my hair is healthy?
What your hair looks like, compared to the next person’s hair (even within the same family) cannot be an accurate measure of the health of your hair.
Hair bloggers all agree, there are three main ways to tell if your hair is healthy regardless of texture or type.
The rate your hair grows differs from one person to the next, but healthy hair grows – even if it is slowly. Growing hair means strong hair, it is about length retention more than anything else. According to birdie.com, a popular natural hair blog, hair growth is also a sign of a healthy scalp and hair follicles. This is universal across all hair types.
2. The tug test
Healthy, well-nourished hair is strong but also has some elasticity. When your hair dries out, it may lose the elasticity. Instead of using hair texture to try (and fail) to determine whether the hair is well moisturised, use the tug test.
When gently pulled, a healthy strand of hair can be stretched to its full length without breaking.
According to Insider.com, unhealthy hair will easily snap as it is stretched without too much force.
Everyone’s hair reacts to moisture differently; from increased curl definition to more lustre and shine. There is a wide range of reactions your hair could have to moisture, and a wide range of moisturisers you could use on your hair too.
The best way to establish if the type of moisturiser you are using on your hair is helping to keep it healthy is to test how porous your hair is. According to askthescientists.com, dry hair is porous and absorbs water quickly, while well-moisturised hair isn’t. To test this, drop a strand of your hair in the water. If it floats, it’s well moisturised but if it sinks, it is dry.
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