The Hair Guru is a monthly column written by Sheryle Pettet from Salon on the Square in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Everyone wants shiny, strong and beautiful hair. There are two key elements to hair: protein and moisture. Hair is predominately keratin protein and the remaining small percentage is moisture—essential fatty acids, (EFAs). Protein is the structure and strength of the hair, and moisture is the elasticity. Beautiful hair is the balance of the two elements.
Everything we do to our hair influences the balance: chemical services, blow drying, hot tools, brushing, hair accessories, harsh shampoos, nutrition and environmental damage such as sun, salt and chlorine.
What does your hair need?
Curly hair is naturally drier so it requires extra moisture. Apply your conditioner and leave most or all of it in the hair. Apply away from the scalp through the ends moving in a downward direction which also helps to smooth the cuticle (outermost layer) of the hair.
Straight, sleek hair typically needs more protein. Too much moisture will make it lifeless and flat and too little leaves the hair dry, brittle and sometimes frizzy. A leave-in protein conditioner can provide additional body.
Proper nutrition is important. A healthy diet is good for everything!
Both curly and straight hair have unique needs further influenced by the climate where you live. A proper balance is key to successful chemical services such as coloring, bleaching, perming, and keratin treatments. Listen to your stylist as they are trained in hair chemistry and have the product knowledge to prescribe what you need. Always provide feedback to your stylist as to what does and doesn’t work to fine tune the process.