Our hair is nearly like a fingerprint - unique, different for everyone. Selecting the right care, i.e. one that will give us the best effects, is a big challenge. Therefore, before you select the care products, it is worth thinking over what your hair really is. Thanks to this, it will be easier to explore its needs and make it become your greatest decoration.
Actually, there are as many hair types as persons in the world, because although we can have similar one, it will never be identical. Not only genes, but also nutrition, treatments that are done (dyeing, straightening, drying, etc.), care, weather conditions and even the water that is used for washing have an impact on its final appearance. Nevertheless, there are some properties that can be used to describe and group the hair. These characteristic features are essential for the conscious hair care.
Apart from the most obvious, because visible to the naked eye, a division into the straight, wavy and curly hair, coarse and fine, or thick and thin (for more detailed information on this subject matter, see the book “How to Care for Your Hair. A Guide for a Beginner Hair Maniacs' by Anna Kołomycew) there is also a criterion of the porosity, which is of particular significance in the context of the conscious care of your hair.
WHAT IS HAIR POROSITY?
The surface of the hair is covered with the small scales made from cysteine and fatty acids, which constitute the outer, protective layer of the hair.
The porosity is a degree of lifting of these scales on the surface, it is often a genetic trait, but it also depends on the type of the hair care and hairdressing procedures you perform.
Depending on the degree of the scales lifting, three types of hair can be distinguished:
- low porous hair,
- medium porous hair,
- high porous hair.
WHY IS THE POROSITY CRITERION SO IMPORTANT?
Daily care and use of the various products for hair washing, conditioning and styling can affect its porosity and cause changes in the entire hair structure.
The spaces inside the cell membranes that combine the scales are the preferred route for the penetration and diffusion of many substances into the hair medulla. The varying degrees of its lifting determine to a large extent a level of the interaction of the active substances, which, depending on a size of the molecules, penetrate deeply into the hair structure or act on their surface.
The action of the adverse external factors such as chemical agents, high temperature, UV radiation, mechanical friction causes a change in the architecture of the scales, frequently damaging and degrading a structure of the entire hair. Therefore, the proper care and selection of a size of the active substances is extremely important for strengthening a natural protective barrier of the hair as well as a control of the transport of the active substances.
HOW TO DETERMINE A POROSITY? TYPES OF POROSITY
The best way, which does not require the use of a microscope, which will enable you to determine a type of the hair porosity and select the proper cosmetics, is to observe your hair and assign it to specific groups based on the properties described below. You can also visit the website and take the on-line test.
- LOW POROSITY
- MEDIUM POROSITY
- HIGH POROSITY
Low porous hair has the cuticles tightly adherent to the hair cortex, arranged in a regular manner and very difficult to move. They do not require such extensive care, and even quite the opposite - it should be limited, as this care may easy weigh the low porous hair down. The inappropriate care or a lack of it can worsen a condition of the hair and affect a change in porosity.
Instead of penetrating deep into the hair, most of the nutrients settle on it creating an additional coating and making the hair lose elasticity, vitality and its natural shine. Such hair reacts well to the substances featuring the adequately small molecules, because only these ones can penetrate deep into the hair without building up on its surface.
Low porous hair like oils with the small molecules (e.g. coconut, babassu, palm oils) and the other "low molecular" ingredients, because only these ones are able to penetrate deep into the hair without a build-up on its surface. Amino acids and some herbs also hold very well on such hair.
What is the low porous hair like?
Such hair is resistant not only to damage, all procedures, but styling, too. This hair is naturally healthy, smooth and shiny. They arrange in a characteristic "flowing" way, slippery to the touch, when stylised, it tends to return to a shape from before styling. It is easy to weigh it down by an improper, excessive care and make the hair to be "limp". Low porous hair usually releases moisture gradually and slowly, which results in long drying.
Most of the hair naturally features a porosity, which can be described as a medium one, because it does not only demonstrate the hair properties related to the high or low porosity. This is frequently the hair, which high porosity has been decreased by the proper care or the low porosity has been increased by the chemical procedures.
Medium porous hair tolerates the medium-particle oils, i.e. monounsaturated acids from the omega-7 and omega-9 groups (e.g. olive oil, grape seed oil and plum oil, almond oil). The suitable active substances from the group of proteins for this type of hair are those with the medium molecule size (hydrolysed keratin or silk), which on the one hand rebuild the keratin structure of the hair, but also effectively smooths the hair.
What is the medium porous hair like?
Medium porous hair often combines the properties of the high and low porous hair and it is, in brief, “normal” one. It is frequently the wavy hair, that is not too dry and rough, but this hair is not as smooth as the low porous hair. It does not cause major difficulties, this hair is prone to hairdo and styling, but to a significantly less extent than the high porous hair. Similarly, although to a lesser extent than the high porous hair, it tends to frizz and can be difficult to comb.
The high porous hair has an irregularly distributed cuticle that heavily lifts from the hair cortex and reacts very easily to changes in air temperature or humidity. Thereby this hair is much more exposed to the mechanical damage and the harmful effects of the substances. Such hair, if you fail to take care of it properly, will be dull, rough and frizzy. The active substances with the relatively large molecules that rebuild the damaged keratin structure of the hair and close the hair cuticle, thus reducing porosity, prove better in the hair care. For the high porous hair, high molecular weight proteins (milk proteins, whey proteins, silk proteins, wheat and oat proteins) are the most appropriate, which, as their basic building material, fill the gaps in the cuticle and smooth it. The oils featuring the large molecules are also of great importance, i.e. polyunsaturated oils from the omega-3 and omega-6 groups (e.g. linseed oil, wheat germ oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil), which smooth the hair, too. These oils make the hair more flexible and shinier.
What is the high porous hair like?
Hair is frequently subjected to bleaching or dyeing treatments or exposed to high temperatures – due to a straightener or a dryer – on the regular basis. The naturally curly hair is also more likely to be characterized by the high porosity. Such hair is usually dry, rough and brittle. It quickly absorbs water and any substances that are applied to it. The high porous hair dries out at the different speed, with the ends usually drying out much quicker than the remaining part. The ends are often split and brittle easily. The high porous hair also has a tendency to frizz and tangle, react to increased levels of moisture in the environment and often change their appearance in contact with humidity thus returning to its condition prior to styling.
PEH balance (Proteins, Emollients, Humectants)
Although our hair is different in terms of the porosity, all hair has a similar physiological structure and, therefore, to some extent the similar requirements. The substances that play the most important role in the care and life of your hair are humectants, proteins and emollients. All these three types of the active substances are found in the hair cosmetics or its semi-finished products. So, we can divide them into three groups:
- products containing proteins – intended for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the hair structure
- products containing humectants – with a moisturising effect
- products that contain neither humidifiers nor proteins – neutral ones in terms of the protein-humectant balance, i.e. the products containing e.g. oils or silicones (conditioners and emollient masks, oils, serums for the hair ends, etc.)
Maintaining the right PEH balance, i.e. between proteins, emollients and humectants is essential for keeping the hair in a good condition. That is why we have developed at Anwen the hair conditioners containing the key ingredients in terms of the PEH balance - each individually, properly adjusted to the porosity of the hair, so as to help maintain the balance important for your hair health and make its care simpler, and at the same time more effective.
We have included the detailed information and advice on maintaining the PEH balance in our e-book: "Scientific View on the PEH Balance, that is Proteins, Emollients and Humectants in Hair Care".
Humectants are the highly hygroscopic substances, well soluble in water, which have the ability to form a permanent chemical bond and retain water from the environment, so they can act as a natural water reservoir in the hair.
In order to moisturise the hair for a long time, you must eliminate a process of the water evaporation from its inner part. Emollients and high molecular weight proteins that will form a coating on the surface that protect against a water loss can be helpful.
When the hair under the influence of the external factors (high temperature or solar radiation), loses this water, it becomes dry, dull, rough to the touch and resemble the so-called hay. After a long time, it will also become brittle and breakable. On the other hand, if you fail to balance and use humectants often enough, your hair will lose volume, becomes stretchy and it will lack vigour.
In case of the increased humidity of the air, the hair will begin to frizz excessively, so when planning your hair care, from a perspective of including humectants in it, you should always take into account the weather, and more precisely the humidity of the air, and in case of the extremely difficult hair - a dew point, too.
How to use humectants?
Depending on a degree of drying of the hair, it is recommended to use humectants 1-2 times a week. Oiling proves beneficial to hair, to which a moisturising conditioner has been previously applied – the so-called oiling on the base, where you leave the oil for 2-3 hours, then wash your hair traditionally (no SLS shampoo required), or leave it overnight and wash your hair in the morning.
Humectants in our products
Humectants used in our Moisturising Elderberry conditioner have been optimally matched in terms of their hygroscopic properties to ensure the effective hydration for as long as possible.
Proteins are the main building material of the hair shaft, responsible for the physicochemical properties of the hair, as well as its appearance, condition and quality. Delivered during the care, they fill the gaps in the hair structure and regenerate it to a certain extent. Proteins have different forms, and their size depends on how they will act: whether on the surface of the hair or deeper inside it. Furthermore, due to the highly hydrophilic nature, proteins can act as the humidifiers.
When the hair lacks the proteins, the strands become bleak, flabby, "lifeless" and extremely difficult to style it, and the wavy and curly hair has a weakened curl. It lacks energy and elasticity. The more destructive factors affect the hair, the more protein building material is needed to change its structure.
On the other hand, when you supply too much protein to the hair, it may be overproteined. This is a condition, in which the hair has received too much protein, a disproportionate quantity of them in relation to other ingredients supplied to it. As a result, the strands become rough, stiff and dry, begin to frizz and instead of gaining elasticity - they lose it and begin to brittle and break.
Fortunately, an excess of protein can be quickly "washed out" of the hair. It is enough just to wash them with a shampoo containing stronger detergents - SLS / SLES, the best with the cleansing ones, which will get rid of the build-up layer of protein. Then, you should take care of the water balance, while using the products that include humectants in their composition, and finally in order to protect against a loss of moisture, apply emollients.
How to use proteins?
Depending on the condition of the hair, a frequency is determined individually, usually it is recommended to use protein once a week or less. It is the best to apply proteins on the properly moisturised hair (i.e. where humectants have been used in the previous washing). You can also apply a moisturising conditioner for several minutes during the "1st wash", rinse it and then apply a conditioner or a mask with proteins for several minutes.
Proteins in our products:
– the Grape and Keratin masks, as well as Coconut and Clay masks contain proteins appropriate for the medium and low porous hair - keratin and amino acids.
– the Protein Magnolia, Orchid and Green Tea conditioners contain proteins that have been properly selected for the different hair porosity in terms of the molecule size, as well as an amino acid composition and a compatibility with the hair structural proteins.
Emollients, e.g. oils, butters, waxes, silicones, create a special, occlusive layer on the hair surface that prevents an excessive loss of water from inside, protects against an ingress of the harmful substances from the outside, and protects against mechanical damage, UV radiation and high temperature. Due to this, the hair fibres maintain an adequate level of hydration, are smoothed, more elastic and shinier. Emollients can also be divided into groups concerning their place of impact. Depending on a complexity of the chemical structure (including a content of the unsaturated bonds and a length of the chains - triglycerides, i.e. fatty acid esters), emollients act on the surface of your hair or have an ability to infiltrate and penetrate deep into the hair structure.
Emollients are a basis of your care, if it lacks emollients, the hair will become too light, it will frizz and get static. You can also observe drying and a lack of elasticity. It is not worth, however, exaggerating with these active substances, too. An excess of emollients in the hair care makes it become weighted down, clump into the not aesthetic strings and lose its volume.
How to use emollients?
Regardless of the hair type, the care should include emollients, most often of all three components of the PEH balance. They are used practically with every wash, because even a typical protein or humectant cosmetic usually has also emollients in its composition. What is more, it is advisable to use emollients after each care procedure to close all previously supplied active substances in the hair. You can do this in several ways:
• Silicone or oil serum.
• Emollient conditioner / mask - applied after rinsing the previously used moisturising or protein product.
• Oiling - this is a procedure that involves applying oil in the larger quantity to your hair (from one to several tablespoons) prior to washing. You can apply it on a dry, wet, or even previously coated with a highly moisturising or moisturising-protein base that will strengthen the effect of oil. The Anwen oils matched to the hair porosity are great for oiling.
Emollients in our products:
On the basis of the various research and application tests in respect of our oils and emollient conditioners, we have selected the oils which chemical structure and related properties have been optimally suited to the hair featuring the different porosity:
– the Maracuja, Mango, and Verbena oils - contain a composition of the optimally selected oils for the low, medium and high porous hair.
– the Emollient Rose, Acacia and Iris conditioners are rich in the appropriate saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, ensuring an optimal level of the penetration into the hair and an interaction inside it, as well as a compatibility with the structure of hair with the different porosity.