Look at any shelf of shampoo in a high street shop, and you’ll see a staggering array of products – from those that nourish and moisturize, to others that restore and ‘tone’ (whatever that is). All of which leaves you wondering – what does your hair actually need? Forget simply selecting the newest product with the shiniest packaging. This straight forward 10-second test will let you know exactly what your locks are screaming out for.
Protein and moisture – why these two elements matter for your hair
Your hair is 91% protein. So you’d think that whatever your hair problem, it can probably be fixed with protein-enriched hair products, right? Wrong, actually. In fact, when you use protein on dry, delicate and damaged hair, it only makes it dryer. And when that happens, your hair can stiffen and eventually snap off. In contrast, dry hair needs to be rehydrated with moisture to soften your strands.
So now that we’ve set the record straight on moisture- vs. protein-deficient hair, let’s get to the strand test…
Pluck out a strand of your hair, wet it with water, then go ahead and slowly stretch it. If your hair returns to its original length without snapping, then your moisture/protein levels are in perfect balance. Hurray!
If it stretches and stretches and then breaks, or feels mushy, stringy or limp, you need protein. Try a protein treatment mask ASAP and repeat each month (don’t be tempted to go overboard however, as protein-overload could lead to dry hair that’s prone to breakages).
If it snaps without much stretching beforehand, you need moisture. You should seek out a deep conditioning treatment as soon as you can (and repeat once a week). A steamer might also help.
Strand test leaving you more confused than before?
If you find that the strand test just doesn’t work for you (or you’re confused about what that strand of hair is trying to tell you), just go off the feeling of your hair.
Does it feel tough and hard? Is it super fine, or chemically damaged to such an extent that it now feels like candy floss? You probably need protein.
Or does it feel rough, dry, tangled and brittle? In that case, it needs moisture.
While your once weekly or once monthly products will provide your hair with an intense kickstart, you should also switch up your everyday products (especially if you’ve been using the wrong ones for your hair type).
If your hair’s lacking protein, look out for products labeled with ‘Keratin’ – keratin is the hair’s main protein. Or if your hair needs hydration, select products that mention ‘moisture’, and those that pack-in ingredients such as fatty acid-rich oils, aloe, and nut kinds of butter.
Who knew that the solution to all your hair troubles wasn’t whatever product had the most impressive marketing campaign? As it turns out, there’s more science to that magazine-worthy, high shin hair than at first it seemed!