Did You Know? Your Hair Is Actually Dead - Good Wash Day

Did You Know? Your Hair Is Actually Dead

Introducing Paige Lewin, host of Texture Talks, a podcast about afro, textured, and curly hair. This is the debut post in our 'Did You Know?' series. Over to you, Paige...

Imagine sitting down for a chat with a Trichologist, which, for those who don’t know, is a specialist that studies diseases of the hair and scalp, expecting to learn all the incredible unknown secrets of hair growth and length retention, only to be told within the first 10 minutes of your conversation that your beloved head of hair, is in fact, dead.

You heard me correctly; completely dead.

And I’m not just talking about split ends, I mean all of your hair, every single individual strand sitting on your scalp.

*Pauses for gasps*.

I too was horrified, so don't worry, you are not alone. What made the shock all the more memorable is the fact that my very confused reaction was caught on camera, as this particular conversation was being recorded for my podcast Texture Talks. For Episode 3, “Let’s Talk About Relaxers”, I interviewed Samantha Stewart, a highly skilled Consultant Trichologist, with a specialism in afro hair. Sam has 30+ years’ experience in all things scalp and hair, and is co-founder of digital trichology service, CurliD, The provided the perfect opportunity to dig into the difficult debate around the use of chemical treatments such as relaxers.

Relaxing hair has been a serious conversation starter in the black community for decades, with many incorrectly using and abusing this very harsh chemical process to straighten their natural kinks, coils, and curls, resulting in scalp burns, sores, and even bald patches. I needed to talk to a professional, if nothing else, to simply get closure on my own past tumultuous relaxer relationship.

Only to be completely sidetracked by a totally new horror all together!

How do you know hair is dead?

Let’s break this down.

If we were to check out our hair using a microscope, our individual hairs would actually look a lot like thick tubes, kind of like those big slides at your local leisure centre that would plunge you into the swimming pool as a child. This structure is called your hair shaft.

Still with me? Okay, good.

So inside your hair shaft, is a hair bulb which is where living hair is created. Your hair cells then grow out of your hair shaft, and then BAM, you see that hair on your scalp. When this happens, a string of new cells are formed in the place of what are now old, more specifically, dead cells.

This process is what creates that strand-like appearance of the hair you’ve just been looking at, or are currently playing with as you read this...

So all the hair you can physically see on your body, not just on your head, on your arms, legs, armpits...even feet (no judgement), are all made up of cells that are no longer living.

Hence why Sam, and every other professional worth their salt will tell you with confidence that hair is in fact dead.

How does this affect your hair care routine?

Firstly, it means you can take the marketing promises of hundreds of different hair care products promising to magically "Stimulate Super Growth", promoting "Longer Hair FAST" and guaranteeing to give you Rapunzel-esque tresses in just a few months, with a pinch of salt; now you know the science behind how your hair REALLY grows.

Unless you're reading this from inside a scene of a zombie thriller, once something is dead, that's it, it’s dead There's no way to bring it back to life, and no amount of premium oils or refined butters are going to make that fact any less true.

But all is not lost!

With the right products, and routine, what you CAN do is substantially improve the appearance, feel and integrity of your hair, dead or not. Proper maintenance of your hair can also help you to retain more of its length, which is key for all textures. It's especially appealing to those of us with curlier, kinkier hair types who can experience shedding and breakage due to the intricacy and frequency of our widely varied hair care regimes, and styles.

Three Top Tips to help you strengthen the quality of your hair (even in the afterlife)

Clean, hydrated hair is happy hair - Work out how often your hair needs cleansing and stay consistent. And for my afro and curly haired sisters I am talking to you too ladies, get to washing! Also try to avoid piling up oil on your hair strand between washes; too much product build up on your strands can stop water from entering and hydrating your hair!

You are not a lobster, stop throwing yourself into boiling hot water - Using moist heat (steam) to open the hair cuticle slowly is an incredible way to allow treatments, masks, and conditioners to penetrate deeper into your hair fibres for maximum hydration and moisture. But having constant scalding hot showers can actually blast open your hair shaft, and rob you of all your much needed moisture, leaving hair dry, frizzy and brittle.

Let those split ends go girl, it’s time - The only thing worse than realising your hair is dead, is realising you are only further killing it by not giving it the regular cuts and trims it needs to retain length and remove split, damaged ends. Think of your split ends like a loose thread on a knitted jumper, as that thread continues to pull, the jumper unravels!

The moral of the story is, that no matter how shocking a new fact can be, it usually leads you to learn something invaluable about caring for your hair that could make all the difference to the results you achieve. Sure hair is dead, but understanding that fact can actually breathe new life into your hair care regime for the better! Stay tuned for the next blog in the Did You Know? series, which leads on perfectly from today’s article. If our hair grows from inside of our body, then naturally what we put into our bodies is a huge part of how healthy our scalp and hair is right? Make sure you come back to learn some pretty hard hitting revelations about how important your diet is when retaining the length and integrity of your hair.

Bye for now!

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