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HAIR CARE Is My Hair Dry, Damaged or Both? Part 1 of 2.

by Better Natured

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When it comes to the condition and appearance of our tresses, the terms ‘dry’ and ‘damaged’ often are used interchangeably. But is that really accurate? Better Natured™, for example, offers three shampoo and conditioner regimens based on hair type: Color Care, Damage Repair and Moisturizing. Each has a unique set of naturally-derived* ingredients, but which one is ideal for your particular needs?  And which should you choose if at times your hair's condition could make it a candidate for all three at once? 

With the help of #Betternaturedpartner and celebrity stylist Cash Lawless, we got the down-low on how to determine the state of our manes, and his pro tips for nourishing and nurturing them from root to tip.

Define the Differences

Healthy hair is more or less what we all start out with!  Over time, our choices impact the look, feel and resilience of our locks. We stress our hair - particularly when it’s wet - by tugging at tangles and opting for high-tension styles like tight ponytails. For many women, hair color, heat styling and chemical treatments are the culprits, because these services repeatedly open, close and/or compromise the hair cuticle.

According to Lawless, the simplest definition of healthy hair is that “it’s non-porous: it’s hard to get water in or out.”  By contrast, hair color and chemical treatments like straighteners and relaxers can cause porosity because in order to work they need to open the cuticle and penetrate the hair shaft. The result is increased porosity that “lets water escape, like a sponge.”  

Mid-lengths and ends are generally more porous, too, because they’re farther away from the scalp’s natural oils, and bear the brunt of heat styling and aggressive brushing. According to Lawless, other factors that impact porosity and can rob hair of moisture include genetics, hormones, stress and climate.  

Damaged hair is highly porous. Before you decide to channel your inner-Elsa and go full platinum keep in mind that bleached hair, in particular, is most prone to damage. The inner cuticle and cortex are so exposed and compromised that the hair often becomes brittle and breaks away. While dry hair can be rehydrated, damaged hair is more difficult to mend. As Lawless explains, “You can improve the appearance and feel of damaged hair, but the damage itself is hard to reverse.” So, to summarize: damaged hair is usually dry and brittle, but not all dry hair is damaged. 

Tress Test

If you are curious where your hair falls on the porosity scale, Lawless suggests a few simple tests to gauge dryness. 

  1. Take a small swatch of hair and gently stretch it outward away from the scalp so it’s taut. Dip a fingertip into some water, and let one drop fall onto the hair. If the water beads up and rolls down the swatch the hair is non-porous -- meaning healthy and hydrated.  If the water absorbs into the hair, the opposite is true: the hair is porous and prone to dryness.
  2. Take one strand of hair and place it gently in a cup of water. If it floats on the surface, it’s non-porous. Hair that sinks is porous, soaking up needed hydration as it drops to the bottom. 

To assess your overall hair health and degree of damage, he recommends two additional experiments.

  1. Take a medium swatch of hair and hold it out sideways 2-3 inches from the ends.  If the hair bends downward it still has moisture. If it sticks out straight, it’s damaged. “Stiffness indicates the hair has no nutrients, moisture or strength left in the cortex - it’s literally lifeless,” describes Lawless.
  2. Again, take a single strand and stretch it. If it breaks immediately, it’s damaged. Hair with a bit of elasticity is healthy. 

*We use the Global ISO Standard 16128 which defines naturally-derived as a plant or mineral derived material and water which is found in nature and has undergone limited processing. In the Better Natured™ line, the percent naturally-derived varies from product to product and ranges from 86% to 99%

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    Damage Repair Shampoo

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    Moisturizing Conditioner

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