Hair Elasticity: What Is It And How Do You Test It?

by Arshiya Syeda

When it comes to the technicalities of hair care, the term ‘hair elasticity’ is often thrown around a lot. In fact, one can find many hair elasticity products and treatments in the market today. This is especially true for people who have natural hair.

But what exactly is hair elasticity, and how do you improve it? Keep reading to find out!

The Definition And Importance Of Hair Elasticity

To put it simply, the elasticity of one’s hair refers to the extent to which you can stretch out your strand before it returns to its normal state. It is the reason behind your curl formation, body, and bounce. It also impacts the styling process by influencing your curl retention.

Typically, the health of your hair is determined based on its elasticity. Hair with high elasticity is credited with being soft, hydrated, and easy to manage. On the other hand, low elasticity hair tends to be dull, limp, difficult to style, and prone to breakage.

The elasticity of your hair is dependent on three main factors. Read the next segment to find out what they are.

What Affects The Elasticity Of Your Hair?

To properly digest this answer, it is important to first understand the structure of your hair strand. It consists of two parts – the cuticle and the cortex.

The cortex is made up of several keratine proteins that are present within a grid of high water content. It plays a major role in the elasticity of natural hair. Several interactions and bonds occur with this protein structure, and the weakening of these bonds can affect the elasticity of your hair. The two major bonds are as follows:

1. Hydrogen Bonds

Hydrogen bonds are physical bonds created between aqueous hydrogen, oxygen atoms, and amino acid nitrogen. They are incredibly weak and require adequate hydration to stay intact. When your strands are not sufficiently moisturized, these bonds decrease, causing your hair to lose its elasticity.

2. Cystine Bonds

Also known as disulfide bonds, these chemical bonds give your hair its elasticity by creating a link between the different amino acids on your cortex protein strand. They also link together the various protein strands. You need to maintain a strict PH level to preserve these bonds; if not, they break and lessen the hair’s elasticity.

3. Diameter Of Hair

Other than the two bonds mentioned above, your hair’s elasticity also depends on the diameter of your hair. Strands with a thinner diameter cannot withstand outside stressors, such as sunlight and heating tools, nearly as well as thicker hair can. Hence, the cortex present within thinner hair can get damaged at a faster pace, resulting in its low elasticity.

So how do you find out if you have high elasticity hair or low elasticity hair? Read the next section to find out.

How Do You Perform The Hair Elasticity Test?

The best way to find out the elasticity of your hair is to perform a stretch test. Mentioned below are step-by-step instructions on how to carry it out.

  • Wet your tresses thoroughly with lukewarm water.
  • Once completely wet, select one strand of hair.
  • Pull it as much as possible, and leave it. Be gentle with the process to prevent breakage.

1. High Elasticity

If your hair falls back into its regular curl pattern, it means that it is high in elasticity. This type of hair is ideal and contains the perfect balance of protein and moisture.

2. Medium Elasticity

If your hair curls slightly, it means that you have medium elasticity. Strands with this type of elasticity have an average balance of protein and moisture. They are also rarely damaged through the use of heat or other chemicals.

3. Low Elasticity

Finally, if your hair stays stretched or breaks, it means that you have low elasticity. Unfortunately, hair that falls under this category does not have the right balance of protein and moisture and is often damage. In some cases, hair with low elasticity is hereditary. Having said that, this issue could also be caused due to heat or chemical damage.

Now that you know the type of hair elasticity that you fall under, let’s discuss the different ways to maintain and improve it.

Tips For Improving Hair Elasticity

Believe it or not, you can easily restore your hair’s elasticity by following the tips mentioned below:

1. Use A Conditioner With Every Wash

Frequent hydration is needed to strengthen your hydrogen bonds and increase your hair’s elasticity. We recommend applying conditioner to your locks after every hair washes to give it a much-needed moisture boost.

2. Avoid Hot Tools

Be it your dryer or other styling devices; hot tools can suck all the water from your strands, which can break your hydrogen and cystine bonds. To avoid this, we suggest limiting the use of hot tools.

3. Brush Your Hair Often

While there is no evidence to support the same, many experts say that brushing your hair with a large brush is a great way to improve its elasticity. Through this process, the oil on your head is evenly dispersed, giving your cortex the moisture it requires.

4. Try Protein Treatments

Look for products that contain extra protein to restore your hair’s elasticity and strengthen it from the shaft. You should use the protein treatment about once or twice a month and follow up with a deep conditioner for significant results.

5. Improve Your Diet

Eating the right foods can enhance the strength and elasticity of your hair. High protein foods such as eggs and meat can replenish your strands with a healthy dose of nutrients. Foods that contain oils and Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and nuts can also nourish your locks.

Now, let’s move on to the different hair elasticity treatments available in the market today.

Is There A Hair Elasticity Treatment?

Yes, there is! Also known as protein treatments, these products repair hair elasticity by attaching hydrolyzed proteins to the hair follicle. They not only strengthen your tresses but also provide them with ample hydration.

Having said that, not all-natural hair elasticity treatments are the same. The intensity of each hair product depends on the elasticity of your hair. They can primarily be divided into 3 distinct categories based on your elasticity type.

1. Hair With Lots Of Elasticity

Protein packs or hair masks are a great way to maintain hair with high elasticity. While filled with several hydrating ingredients, these products are relatively light on the hair and work towards replenishing the moisture lost during the week.

2. Hair With Medium Elasticity

Deep conditioning treatments are generally recommended to people with medium hair elasticity. These hair products have several moisturizing properties and are specially designed to penetrate deep into the cuticle to hydrate and fix the cortex of the strand.

3. Hair With Low Elasticity

People with this type of hair require reconstructors to improve their elasticity. They are conditioning hair products that are specifically formulated to reverse protein damage. You should apply this product once every two weeks for optimum results.

To Conclude

The term ‘hair elasticity’ refers to the extent to which you can stretch your hair before it returns to its normal state. It is dependent on the hydrogen bonds, cystine bonds, and diameter of your hair and is the reason for its curl formation, bounce, and body.

You can maintain your hair’s elasticity by brushing and conditioning it. To restore your hair’s elasticity, apply a hair mask, deep conditioner, or reconstructor based on the level.

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).
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