That, it turns out, is a mistake. “Having strong hair is an important foundation, which will support styling, coloring, and the overall health of your hair,” explains John O’Brien, a hair color specialist at Antonio Prieto Salon. Strong hair happens when you have a proper balance of protein and moisture levels in your hair. This balance can fall totally out of whack with the help of heat styling and coloring, which is why your hair might start to look brittle and sort of meh if you aren’t giving it the proper care before and after these types of treatments.
While simply looking at your hair can give you a good sense of whether or not it’s in solid shape, O’Brien suggests putting strands through a two-part test to see just how strong they actually are.
Start by holding the ends of a section of dry hair up and away from your scalp, and use the fingers on your other hand to gently “brush” the hair back down towards your scalp, and watch how many shorter strands stand out. “It is common to have about 10 percent of shorter pieces—any more than that could indicate a moderate or severe level of fragility in your hair,” says O’Brien.
“Elasticity is simply the hair’s ability to be stretched out, then returned back to its original length,” explains O’Brien. If your hair is healthy, it should be able to bounce back easily when you pull it. If it’s not, it will probably break. To test for elasticity, wrap a ribbon-sized section of towel-dried (but still damp) hair tightly around your finger with one hand, and use two fingers on the other to gently pull down on the hair. Watch how much they stretch, and whether or not they’re able to get back to their original length. “If your hair quickly snaps back, it’s strong. If it stays somewhat stretched out or breaks off you will need to increase your hair’s protein and moisture levels to keep it strong and elastic,” explains O’Brien.
If you put yourself through these test and are now thinking, “oh man, my hair is weak AF,” not to worry—there are tweaks you can make to your routine to help get it into fighting shape. “To maximize the optimal levels of your hair’s strength inside and out, utilize a protein-rich diet and a haircare regimen to ensure that you maintain healthy levels of protein and moisture,” says O’Brien. Try Nioxin Diamax Thickening Xtrafusion Treatment ($34) or Nexxus Keraphix Damage Healing Shampoo ($20) to help up the protein in hair, which will help with both fragility and elasticity.
Good Great, strong hair days, ahead.
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