Hair Elasticity: Get Bouncy, Shiny Locks with These Expert Tips
Stretch and flexibility are words youâ€™re more likely to associate with yoga classes, but have you ever considered them when it comes to your hair?
Breakage, damage, gloss, and shine are all buzzwords in hair care, but thereâ€™s another popular phrase you may have spotted on your shampoo bottle. Itâ€™s elasticity, and it refers to your hairâ€™s natural stretch.
Elasticity can affect your hair in all sorts of ways, including how easy it is to style and manage, how healthy it looks, and how shiny it is.
Before you start tugging at your hair to try and identify its stretchiness, letâ€™s get some intel from the experts.
What is hair elasticity and what does it mean?
â€œHair elasticity is an indicator of the health of your hair. Each strand of hair comprises multiple layers and the cortex, at the center of the hair, is where moisture is held,â€ explains Norris Ogario, founder and creative director of haircare company Ogario London.
â€œThat moisture gives the hair stretch and flexibility, otherwise known as elasticity,â€ he says. â€œItâ€™s not dissimilar to your skin. If your skin loses moisture, the outer layers of the skin become dry and rough. Worse case, the skin can break.â€
Itâ€™s the same for your hair.
â€œIf the hair is dry, the outer layer of the hair known as the cuticle can lift,â€ Ogario says. â€œWhen the cuticle lifts, that results in moisture loss from the cortex.â€
More moisture means more stretch.
â€œHowever, when hair retains moisture, it has some stretch or elasticity,â€ Ogario says. â€œThat stretch is vital to preventing breakage. Without moisture, hair loses elasticity, becoming brittle and prone to breakage.â€
If your hair has lost elasticity, you might find itâ€™s much harder to style.
â€œElasticity leaves the hair in a more pliable state, so when the cuticle is sealed, the cortex can hold on to moisture,â€ Ogario surmises. â€œThat leaves hair with greater flexibility, and itâ€™s easier to style. Without elasticity, hair can become frustratingly difficult to style and manage.â€
Elasticity types & loss
You might be wondering if your hair elasticity type falls into a particular category. Ogario says there arenâ€™t particular types of elasticity, per se, but certain types of hair are more prone to losing elasticity.
Some hair types are naturally prone to becoming dry, like curly hair.
â€œBecause curly hair has an uneven shape, it can have dips and lifts in the curls and curves of the hair shaft,â€ Ogario says. â€œAt the higher points, the cuticle can lift and expose the hair to moisture loss.â€
The environment plays its part, too.
â€œWhen I talk about environmental factors, Iâ€™m referring to the ones that might come to mind first: sun, wind, rain,â€ Ogario says. â€œBut Iâ€™m also talking about heated styling. Heat is one of the biggest causes of moisture loss and subsequently loss of elasticity in hair.â€
Bleach and chemical treatments
Color treatments like bleaching can impact your hairâ€™s natural stretch as well.
â€œWhen we bleach hair, itâ€™s treated with a chemical to open the cuticle. This process of opening the cuticle leaves the hair exposed to moisture loss,â€ Ogario says. â€œThat results in loss of elasticity.â€
How to test your hairâ€™s elasticity
You can test your hairâ€™s elasticity easily at home by yourself or at the salon with your favorite professional.
â€œThe look and texture of the hair are both things you can take note of yourself,â€ Ogario says.
Ogario recommends a two-step process for testing your hairâ€™s elasticity at home.
- Take a strand of wet hair and hold it at the mid-length or roots. This will prevent pulling at the roots.
- Gently stretch the strand.
- If hair doesnâ€™t fall back into shape or if it breaks, hair elasticity is low.
At the salon
If youâ€™d rather get an expertâ€™s opinion, you can have an assessment done at the salon.
â€œAn experienced hairstylist will assess your hairâ€™s elasticity without carrying out a test,â€ Ogario says.
These signs indicate that hair elasticity is good:
- smooth texture
- free from breakage
â€œHair shines when the cuticle is smooth, light bounces off the hair, and the reflected light is what gives your hair shine. That shine indicates good hair elasticity,â€ Ogario says.
A stylist will also assess the texture of your hair.
â€œIf the hair feels slightly rough to the touch, then it needs moisture,â€ Ogario says. â€œConversely, hair that has moisture has a slippery, silky texture.â€
How to treat and restore hair elasticity
If, after testing, youâ€™ve discovered your hair has poor elasticity, the good news is that thereâ€™s plenty you can do to improve it.
Ogario says a simple approach is often best. Restoring elasticity is all about getting moisture into the hairâ€™s core and locking it in with a sealed cuticle.
He recommends a five-step process that focuses on â€œputting back what we take out.â€
- Always follow shampoo with a conditioner.
- Use a leave-in conditioner for styling.
- Keep heated styling to a minimum.
- Use a deep conditioner once a week every week to maximize moisture and combat excess damage.
- Give your hair a spritz with leave-in conditioner spray in between washes.
â€œThe job of your conditioner is to add moisture and smooth the cuticle. That is critical to maintaining hair elasticity,â€ Ogario says.
He also suggests choosing a leave-in conditioner to get additional moisture into your hair and prevent drying from heat styling.
If you do use heat, towel off your hair first to get as much water out as possible. Use medium heat and finish with a blast of cool air.
â€œFor my curly hair clients, I recommend mixing a little Restore and Shine Hair Masque with water,â€ Ogario says. â€œWork it up in your palms and feed it into the hair. Thatâ€™s a great way of refreshing curls.â€
If you have bleached hair, Ogario warns against overloading your hair with too much deep conditioner.
â€œHair is more porous as a result of bleaching,â€ he says. â€œBecause porous hair soaks up moisture easily, sometimes it might feel that no matter how much product you use, itâ€™s never enough.â€
Instead of layering it on, use a small amount of leave-in conditioner frequently.
Certain products and treatments may help you restore your hairâ€™s lost elasticity.
Jaclyn Chan, a hair educator and level 2 stylist at [salon]718 recommends Joico ProSeries Bond-Protector.
While these products can only be found wholesale, you can shop for other Joico hair products online.
â€œThis is a professional in-salon service which helps build, protect and strengthen hair bonds, before, during, and after every chemical service,â€ Chan says. â€œIâ€™d also recommend all of the Olaplex products, especially the Professional Step 1 and 2 which can be applied in-salon at the time of color services.â€
You can find other Olaplex products online and in retail stores.
Ogario recommends the Ogario London Restore and Shine Masque, a deep conditioner that he developed himself.
â€œItâ€™s best for adding moisture, smoothing the cuticle, and improving hair elasticity, and leaves hair shiny, stronger, and healthier,â€ he explains. â€œIt contains glycerin which attracts moisture. Consequently, it protects against water loss to prevent frizz.â€
A loss of elasticity can affect your hair in all sorts of ways, from reduced manageability to lack of shine. A simple test will tell you what condition your hair is in.
The good news is you can restore your hairâ€™s elasticity by locking in moisture and routinely following a few simple steps.
â€œIâ€™ve been working with hair for over 35 years,â€ Ogario says. â€œIn my experience, restoring moisture to the hair is what makes the biggest difference.â€
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