Ever looked at a stranger’s long, smooth, shiny strands and wondered how the heck she got so lucky? Sure you have – you’re only human and strong, healthy hair is on every beauty’s wishlist. But, thanks to our desire for lighter, straighter/ curlier/ bouncier locks than those nature intended for us, it's no walk in the park to obtain.
If you’re wondering how to get healthier hair, then it shouldn’t shock you that colouring, chemical treatments and constant heat-styling are the sworn enemies of healthy hair. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether.
To help you live your life and still have lovely locks, we chatted with two leading hair experts to explain the difference between healthy and damaged hair. And the hair care tips – and treatments – you can use to prevent and repair it. Read on, Rapunzel.
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Signs of Healthy Hair
Healthy hair is strong and shiny, with good elasticity. How can you test your hair’s elasticity? Simply pick a single strand of damp hair and give it a gentle tug. If it bounces back into place, things are looking good. If it snaps, well, let’s just say your hair could use a helping hand (all the more reason to keep reading!).
Another thing to keep an eye on? Shedding. According to Brisbane hairdresser, Louise Graham of Hey Hair, “on average we lose 50-100 hairs a day – any more is considered hair loss.
The Role of Hair Bonds
Ready for a simple science lesson? Your hair’s basic structure consists of countless protein chains linked together by chemical bonds. And much of your hair’s strength, shape, shine and elasticity (all the good stuff) comes down to three things: its disulfide, salt (or ionic) and hydrogen bonds.
“Disulphide bonds are what determine the amount of curl or straightness of your hair, salt bonds keep the moisture in your hair and hydrogen bonds are what gives our hair elasticity,” says Graham.
These bonds differ in strength – with permanent disulfide bonds being stronger than temporary salt and hydrogen bonds – and can be damaged by everything from humidity to hair products and our go-to salon services. We’re looking at you, balayage.
So, What Damages Your Hair’s Bonds?
“Many things can stress and damage the bonds in our hair, from mechanical and physical damage (improper handling of hair – from extreme tension to over manipulation) to environmental (wind, extreme temperatures, humidity and static) and chemicals (such as perms, chemical straightening and colour damage),” says Graham.
Disulfide bonds may give hair its shape and some of its strength, but they’re far from invincible. “They can be permanently changed with chemical straightening or perming,” says Graham. And they can also be broken by bleaching and heat styling.
The weakest type of bond, temporary salt bonds can be broken when hair is wet (from washing or swimming), humidity is in the air or there is a pH imbalance – which can be caused by certain hair products.
Another major determiner of hair strength, strong but temporary hydrogen bonds are damaged by excess moisture or heat – another good reason to cut back on the use of styling tools for improved healthy hair.
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Is Colouring the Enemy of Healthy Hair?
"When you lighten hair, it’s weakening its internal bonds that keep the hair healthy,” says Tognini’s Head Colourist, Nell McDonald. “It becomes more porous and prone to damage. Lightening the hair essentially opens up the hair cuticle, breaking down its strong internal structure, causing breakage and split ends.
“The further you lighten, the more damage that can potentially be caused,” says the Brisbane hairdresser.
But fear not, bleach babes – with a bond-building product (and an experienced colourist handling your dye job) there’s no need to avoid your 6-weekly highlights. We explain more below where we share our Top Healthy Hair Tips!
Top Healthy Hair Tips
1. Bond Builders to the Rescue
Bond builders are haircare products that work to strengthen existing bonds and repair those broken by lightening and chemically treating your strands. According to Graham, these bond rebuilding products typically target the disulphide bonds in the hair.
But what about our other bonds – who’s looking out for them? Well, we are! Launching soon (woohoo!), Coco & Eve's Pre-Shampoo Bond Building Treatment takes bond building to the next level. Through its microemulsion technology, it takes a more holistic approach to repair. Besides targeting broken disulphide, ionic (salt) and hydrogen bonds, it also protects existing bonds for stronger, healthier, more resilient strands. With all three hair bonds accounted for, hair is fortified with up to 100% more repair* and 85% reduction in breakage**.
2. Wash Your Hair the Right Way
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again healthy hair starts from the scalp. When shampooing, it’s always best to spend a good minute soaking your hair in lukewarm water. This will open the hair cuticle and pores in your scalp, ensuring a thorough cleanse. The last thing anyone wants is a clogged hair follicle.
Done shampooing? Rinse before applying your conditioner, focusing the product on your mid-lengths and ends only. Let it rest for one to two minutes or directions instruct before rinsing. For extra TLC, pick between our Like a Virgin Hair Mask and NEW Sweet Repair Hair Mask. While the first is perfect for sweet hydration and nourishment and the second is for those recovering from tress stress like chemical processing and constant heat styling.
3. Don’t Skip on Heat Protectant
Heat styling is not so great for our strands, period. But we’re not saying to give up our straightener/ curling wand/ blow dryer. Instead, always protect your strands by prepping with a heat protectant. Lightweight and hydrating, our Like A Virgin Miracle Hair Elixir, provides protection at up to 428°F while taming the dreaded Fs - Frizz. Fluff. Fly-aways. She works double-duty, so shiny and healthy hair, here we come!
Ready to give your damaged strands the TLC they need? Shop our NEW Pre-Shampoo Bond Builder here!
*Smoother, less breakage, split ends, shinier, healthier looking hair by clinical scoring.
**Based on clinical study with 40 women with bleached and colored hair.
Written By: Pip Jarvis
Edited by: Iris