Test the porosity of your hair to measure its ability to absorb and retain water. The next time you wash and towel-dry your hair, feel it with your hands. If it feels quite wet, then chances are it’s more porous. When hair is porous it becomes dry and prone to damage. In other words, porous hair is weak hair. On the other hand, if your hair feels quite dry after towel-drying, then it’s less porous and healthier. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also do a quick test by dropping a few clean, dry hair strands into a bowl of water. If your hair sinks after a few minutes, it has high porosity because it absorbed the water quickly and sank. If your hair is still floating, then it has low porosity and is stronger.
To test the elasticity of your hair, you need to stretch a strand while it’s wet. The farther you can stretch your hair, the more elastic and healthy it is. Healthy hair, when it’s wet, will stretch up to 50% of its original length and return to its normal shape and size without breaking. Unhealthy (dry) hair only stretches to about 20% of its original length. But remember, it’s never a good idea to brush your hair while it’s wet. You don’t want to stretch your hair out to the point of breakage, so be careful.
Here are a few simple ways to keep your hair strong.
Good nutrition builds strong hair.
A healthy diet is the key to the health of your hair. Protein is essential, as your hair is made up of a tough protein called keratin, which helps form the strength of your hair, skin and nails. You also need to focus on trace minerals like copper, iron, magnesium and selenium, as well as Vitamins E, D and C. These nutrients are important in the production of keratin. Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies are a great vitamin source, as are healthy fats. Fish is also a great choice, because omega-3 fatty acids encourage hair growth.
All shampoos are not created equal.
Choose a shampoo specifically for your hair type to help strengthen your hair. Select a gentle shampoo and conditioner to help repair hair and bring it back to a strong and healthy state. Choose products that are sulfate-free and clinically tested to improve hair strength. Try to avoid chemical-based products, as they can be damaging. Look for more gentle ingredients like Aloe vera, shea butter and plant-derived micro proteins to help soften and strengthen hair.
Condition more often.
Even on the days when you might not be shampooing, if your hair is wet, apply some conditioner. This will help lock in much needed moisture. When water evaporates, unfortunately, it draws moisture out from the inside of the hair shaft, ultimately causing it to dry out and weaken. Consider a weekly deep conditioning treatment, including DIY ones like this: 4 tbsp. of coconut oil and 2 tbsp. of pure honey, mixed, warmed and applied to your freshly washed, towel-dried hair. Put on a shower cap and leave for approximately 20 minutes before rinsing. It’s a great alternative to a store bought conditioning treatment.
Tip: When conditioning hair, squeeze out excess water before applying. If your hair is saturated with water, it can’t absorb your conditioner.
Get a trim.
As your hair ages, the ends will tend to split more. And if your hair is damaged, you should cut off the damaged areas. Regular trimmings will give your hair a much healthier appearance, and will also help to prevent split ends from traveling up the length of your hair.
Cut out the heat.
We all use dryers and irons to achieve a specific look. But if healthy, strong hair is what you’re striving for, then cut back on the heat as this can burn and damage your hair quickly. Use heat protectant spray and clean your styling tools with alcohol to help remove product residue, which can damage your hair over time.
There are several other things to keep in mind as you work to strengthen your hair:
- Avoid tight ponytails, as they can encourage breakage.
- Protect hair with UV protection when going into the sun. As the sun fades your hair, it causes it to become dry and brittle. Consider wearing a hat when spending time in the sun.
- Protect hair when you swim. Chlorine weakens hair, so wet your hair before you take a dip. Apply some product or even conditioner to keep it protected. If all else fails, you can always opt for a swim cap.
When it comes to hair, nails, skin, it’s all about strength. So, implement some daily practices to look and feel your absolute best.