Do the rules of natural hair care confuse you? One minute, you’re reading “no shampoo! low manipulation!” and the next you’ve found a blog featuring a naturalista who does twistouts daily, shampoos weekly, and has hair down to her butt!
We all know the cardinal rule: No heat.
Welp. Now even that’s changed.
I use heat. That’s no secret–I’ve said it before. I have dense, low porosity hair that needs heat to let in any moisture. Plus, because my hair is so thick, it takes FOREVER—like 24 hours–to actually dry. #Ain’tNobodyGotTimeForThat
Those of you who follow this blog have probably figured out that my mantra is do what works for your hair and the rest are just guidelines. I thought I was just being a rebel, so imagine my surprise when a new study popped up stating what I’ve always suspected: letting your hair remain wet for an extended period of time may actually be damaging to your tresses.
We all know that direct heat causes damage to the hair’s surface–the cuticle. The study found the same thing. BUT, the study also found that after repeated shampooing and air drying, the cell membrane complex (“CMC”) exhibited bulging, which is a sign of damage.
“The hair shaft swells when in contact with water, as does the delta-layer of the CMC. The delta-layer is the sole route through which water diffuses into hair, and so we speculate that the CMC could be damaged when it is in contact with water for prolonged periods. Longer contact with water might be more harmful to the CMC compared to temperature of hair drying.”
|The CMC consists of cell membranes and adhesive material that binds the cuticle and cortical cells together in keratin fibers.
In plain English, these fibers (or proteins, really) basically act like cement, preventing cells from sliding past each other. When water remains in the hair for too long a period, it begins to degrade these proteins, resulting in a bulging effect called the Allworden sac (the bulge referenced in the study). The study basically found that while direct heat (especially at higher temperatures) causes surface damage to the hair, air drying for prolonged periods of time allows water to degrade the structure that holds the hair together.
Not to worry, the study proposes a simple solution, and it’s one that I’ve employed accidentally. Let your hair partially air dry (completely wet hair is more prone to heat damage), then use a hair dryer on cool or low heat at a distance of 15 cm (that’s 6 inches, folks) from your hair with continuous motion. The study claims that this method causes less damage than drying hair naturally.
Remember, this happens to work for me, but it is only my experience and ONE study. I look forward to more research expounding on this finding. But until then …
Peace, Love, and Live Life Full,
*feature Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net