Why is my hair dry
Why is my hair dry

Why does my hair feel dry?

The smooth silkiness we equate with moisturised hair, is actually from hair cuticle layers sealed in a lipid complex including fatty acids, ceramics, glycolipids and cholesterol.  One important fatty acid within the cuticle layer is called 18-methyl eicosanoic acid (18-MEA).  18-MEA is bound to the epicuticle which is the thin outer layer of the hair cuticles. This is lipid rich area is also referred to as the external protective f-layer (fatty layer) of hair.

Too much moisture makes your hair fibre swell and weakens it.  18-MEA also controls how much water leaves the hair.  As long as this hydrophobic layer remains present, less moisture is lost from the hair.

Dry hair and 18 MEA

Comparison of identical sample hair tresses before and after removal of 18-MEA with detergent.  There is strong difference for the shape of hair bundles after towel drying was observed. Hair fibers with 18-MEA form smooth bundles with parallel hair fibre alignment. On the other hand, hair fibres without 18-MEA form thick bundles which were more disorderly. The shape of the hair bundles in a wet state are shown in the appearance of hair strands after drying.

Credit:  Degradation of Hair Surface: Importance of 18-MEA and Epicuticle

Keeping your f-layer where it needs to be…

Hair often loses its protective lipid layer when exposed to detergents (shampoo) or during chemical treatments (such as hair colouring). As the fatty layer is lost, the hair becomes hydrophilic (water loving) and the inner structure is exposed to further damage.  Some products are designed with molecules that can mimic the behaviour of the f-layer. By imparting some level of hydrophobicity that can prevent moisture loss from hair and controlling the moisture absorption into hair; these molecules can protect hair against further frictional damage and make hair manageable.

Some tips for hair that feels hydrated:

  • Tie hair up at night with a silk scarf or use a silk pillow
  • Use a low sulphate or sulphate free shampoo
  • Reduce the use of heated tools when styling your hair
  • Use a microfiber towel to dry your hair
  • Check your vitamin and mineral status to ensure the hair structure is robust
  • Treat hair carefully during styling

Keeping your f-layer where it needs to be…

Hair often loses its protective lipid layer when exposed to detergents or during chemical treatments. As the fatty layer is lost, the hair is left hydrophilic (loves water) and the cuticles are exposed to further damage.  Some products are designed with molecules that can mimic the behaviour of the f-layer. By imparting some level of hydrophobicity that can prevent moisture loss from hair and controlling the moisture absorption into hair; these molecules can protect hair against further frictional damage and make hair manageable.

Some tips for hair that feels hydrated:

  • Tie hair up at night with a silk scarf or use a slik pillow
  • Use a low sulphate or sulphate free shampoo
  • Reduce the use of heated tools when styling your hair
  • Use a microfiber towel to dry your hair
  • Check your vitamin and mineral status to ensure the hair structure is robust
  • Treat hair carefully during styling
Dry hair and 18 MEA

Comparison of identical sample hair tresses before and after removal of 18-MEA with detergent.  There is strong difference for the shape of hair bundles after towel drying was observed. Hair fibers with 18-MEA form smooth bundles with parallel hair fibre alignment. On the other hand, hair fibres without 18-MEA form thick bundles which were more disorderly. The shape of the hair bundles in a wet state are shown in the appearance of hair strands after drying.

Credit:  Degradation of Hair Surface: Importance of 18-MEA and Epicuticle

REFERENCES

  1. Barry M Popkin, K. E. D. I. H. R., 2010. Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), p. 439–458.
  2. J.S. Barbieri, K. W. J. S., 2014. Skin: Basic Structure and Function, Pages 1134-1144. s.l.:Academic Press.
  3. NHS, n.d. Six to eight glasses of water still best. [Online]

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