4 Simple Tests to Check Health of Your Hair
Hairdressers are trained to use four simple tests to identify the health of your hair. Here they are, so you can do them for yourself and keep tabs on your hair's progress...
This checks how flexible your strands are. Hair that is in good condition is able to stretch and bend into any style, then return to its original length.
How to Do the Elasticity Test?
Hold a few damp strands, (less than 5), between your index finger and thumb in one hand at at least 2 inches from the root. With your other hand, use your index finger and thumb to hold those same damp strands towards their ends, leaving a two inch or larger gap between your two hands.
Gently, but firmly, pull your hands apart, stretching your hair NO MORE THAN HALF its original length. Then release the end of your strands, only retaining hold of them with the hand that was nearest to your roots. And wait. If your hair slowly returns to its original length and curl pattern, then your hair is in good condition.
This test should be carried out on all four quadrants of your head to ensure an accurate reflection of your hair's health.
Hair in Bad Condition Will...
Hair that is in bad condition will either overstretch; stretching more than half its length. Or break off; refusing to stretch at all.
Overstretched hair has a damaged internal structure, usually caused by excessively leaving wet hair exposed to harsh conditions, or over-shampooing.
Hair that just breaks off during the test has been dried out, has often gone without the necessary moisturising or adequate conditioners. It is very common for strands that break to have suffered chemical damage and/or excessive heat.
What Can Improve Elasticity?
Deep conditioning and regular moisturising will help replenish your hair and improve its elasticity.
Remember hair with good elasticity is healthy and full of styling options.
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This, perhaps is the easiest test of all. Porosity tests measure how thirsty your hair is. The rule of thumb being the more thirsty your hair is, the drier it is and the longer its been famished for moisture.
You should already have a general idea of how porous your hair is when taking into account the amount of conditioner you need before you notice any effect. However, the thickness and amount of hair you have usually disturbs this reading. So for a more accurate test, you can use these expert hairdresser methods.
Method 1: If your hair isn't coloured, then take a section of your hair, twisting the ends up so they lay flat against the roots, enabling you to check the colour of the ends against the colour of your roots.
If the colour is much lighter on the ends, then your hair is porous, and not in good condition. For hairdressers this would signal weaker hair that may not stand up to rigorous styling. It also signals hair that will generally take less time for any chemical treatment to take effect as porous hair mistakes anything liquid based for food and moisture.
When there isn't much colour difference, then the hair is taken to have normal porosity, a sign of hair being in good condition.
Hairdressers don't solely rely on this method of porosity testing; there is another method that may arguably give a more accurate reflection of the porosity of our hair.
Method 2: Hold a couple of strands out from your scalp. Run the strands between your index finger and thumb, from root to tip.
If, as you travel down the strands from your root area, the texture feels rougher, bumpier and less smooth, then you have porous hair. And the ends of your hair especially would be considered to be in poor condition. If your strands are evenly smooth from root to tip, congratulations; your hair seems to be in good nick.
The rougher feel occurs when your cuticle opens due to daily mishandling, bad products, heat and chemical treatments - and perhaps most significantly - poor conditioning and moisturising routines. The hunger of our hair for the proper proteins and moisture forces the hair's cuticle scales to open and remain opened, trying desperately to suck humidity from the air.
What Can You Do About Porosity?
Unfortunately, nothing can turn back porosity. Trim and move on, or wait for the porous hair to break off, you decide, either way it's time to take good care of your hair and prevent the rest of it from becoming highly porous.
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This is where you stretch apart your fingers and gently pull both hands through your hair, from the root area to the ends, counting the number of strands left on your hands when you've finished.
Running your hands freely through your hair, may sound easy and simple, but if your hair is tangle prone, this test might not be for you.
By the time you detangle your hair, the pull test results won't be so accurate as you would have already removed any, maybe many, loose hair strands.
Ideally no strands should fall, but if any more than 10% of the section pulled do, this equates to a "positive pull". A positive pull is a red alert to hairdressers that your hair and scalp need some TLC, (treatments, special massages, targeted leave ins). In serious cases, you may need to consult a dermatologist.
Split Ends Check
This is a visual check, as well as a physical one. Some hairdressers will simply look at the ends of a few strands to see if there is any split ends, as well as run their fingers through their client's hair; checking if the ends feel rough and unmanageable, which usually indicates split, broken apart ends.
If split ends are numerous and easy to find then a series of deep conditioning treatments are recommended and you'll have to seriously consider a trim. (read our previous blogs on when and when not to trim.)
If you have only very few, practically impossible to find split ends or - hey - none at all, then, congratulations, you have what most of us crave: A healthy head of hair: Make sure you keep it that way!
There are visual checks that are done also, all over the scalp, making sure that your hair is free from infection, allergy irritation and other scalp conditions.
But you'll have to wait and see our scalp run-through for more info on what these entail...
DHA Hair Care Experts