Mar 29, 2011

More Info about Moisture/Protein Balance- Getting Deep Into it! Part B


Protein is what gives the hair its strength and structure. Hair is about 70% keratin protein by nature. Protein is found most prevalently in products like instant conditioners (bargain brands like Suave and V05), leave in conditioners, protein conditioner treatments, and even some moisturizers. 


Moisturizers are products that are water-based and nourish your hair deep within the strand. Water is the ultimate moisturizer so waterbased products are best for really getting the best moisture benefit. Products with moisturizing properties tend to be your conditioners and other water-based products. Moisturizers may also be protein-based, but these protein based moisturizers do not have the moisturizing benefit that moisture-based moisturizers have. Good moisturizers will not contain ingredients like petrolatum, mineral oil, or lanolin. These are cheap product fillers. Be wary of products that claim moisturizing benefits and contain these ingredients. There is nothing moisturizing about them! Petrolatum and mineral oil are sealants and have the potential to suffocate the hair and scalp and seal out the moisture it needs. 

Sealing in your Moisturizers:
Our hair naturally contains moisture, but because our hair is also naturally porous, keeping the moisture inside is a difficult task. Sources of outside moisture, or external moisture supplementation is a must for black hair. Water molecules and moisture from these supplemental moisturizing products easily passes into the hair shaft, but they pass out just as easily. The moisture you apply needs to held in by something. Oil. 
A light coating of oil on top will help seal the moisture inside. Oils are made of large molecules. These molecules are too large to absorbed by the hair strand. Applying oils to the hair and scalp will coat them and trap moisture that is inside on the inside and moisture that is outside on the outside. The key is to lock in the moisture within the strands with your oil. If you use oils without a moisturizer or before one, the oil will seal the moisture out of the hair strand and lead to eventual dryness. This technique of moisturizing and sealing has really been helpful to me and is a resonating hallmark of my regimen. Moisturizing success is all in the order in which you apply your products.

REMEMBER! Oils DO NOT Moisturize. 
Perhaps a words like �nourish� would be better than moisturize. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me to recommend a good oil that moisturizes, I would be rich! Oil alone will not and cannot moisturize within the hair shaft. An oil can only coat the outside of the strand, and give it shine- the illusion of moisture. Again, the molecules that make oil are much too large to penetrate. Oil molecules are �hydro-phobic� which means they repel and do not readily mix with water. Remember, if you apply an oil product to your hair before you have added a moisturizing product, you have created a seal on your hair strand that water and moisture cannot penetrate. 

When the Balance Tips, You Must Wet Assess

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Hair is not exempt from this old adage. Growing out your hair is a constant battle between maintaining an even protein and moisture balance. Breakage is the result of the hair chemistry being thrown off balance. . Remember Kim and Trina from the beginning of the section? Hair that is shifted too far on either side of the balance (too much protein or too much moisture) will break. 

The Importance of Wet Assessment

Though health assessments can be performed on dry hair, determining your cause of breakage is often easiest on wet hair. Hair in its wet state exudes the basic properties of hair---elasticity and strength�excellently. In fact, these qualities are often exaggerated on wet hair. Thorough and frequent wet assessments will help you maintain your hair�s health and condition. 

Hair in its optimal condition will not break when wet unless undue stress is placed upon it through aggressive combing or detangling. A balanced and healthy hair strand will stretch and break only under undue, or unusual types of pulling stress. Balanced hair will feel soft and supple, yet strong while wet. When you comb through it when wet, it should resist excess stretching and will hardly break if you are careful. Over time, and with trial and error, you will be able to tell what is normal stress for your hair.
If your hair does indeed break when wet, the way the hair breaks under these conditions will give you a sure indication of wether more moisture or protein is required to regain the proper balance. 

How Do I Perform a Proper Wet Assessment?

It will be difficult for you to wet assess your hair by holding a single strand and pulling on both ends. That type of stress would be considered "undue" stress, because no single hair is ever really subjected to that sort of tension at one time. Any strand of hair (healthy or not) that you pull on by both ends has the potential to snap depending on the pressure you apply to it. Hair should be wet assessed by the normal act of combing though it or touching-testing it. 

Wet Assessment Break Down

If your hair: 

(Wet or Dry) Stretches slighty/returns to original length /no breaking= you are balanced just stick with maintaining!
(Wet ot Dry) Stretching a little more than normal then breaks= more protein 

(Wet or Dry)Stretching, stretching, stretching/no breakage yet= more protein

(Wet)- Weak, gummy, mushy, limp hair= more protein

(Wet or Dry) Very little/no stretching then breakage= more moisture

(Dry) Rough/tough/hard/tangly/brittle hair= more moisture

Unsure= err on the side of moisture

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