We measure elasticity by looking at how far the hair will stretch and how it then will return to its natural form. When hair is healthy, it should stretch to about 50% of it’s original length and return to its natural form without any breakage.Dry, damaged hair, will stretch to only about 20%. Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams says a healthy cortex is how healthy elasticity develops.
When hair is healthy, it should stretch to about 50% of its original length
The cortex is located in the center of the strand of hair and determines most of the physical properties of the hair. Elasticity--or shrinkage--is rated either low, medium, or high. Hair with the lowest elasticity will be the hardest to curl, and will lose curl quickly if set with heat tools.
Hair Finder says that in order to test your hair elasticity, hair must be wet--that way, it will always have the most elasticity. Select strands from four different parts of your head.
How to test your elasticity
Hold each strand securely and stretch the hair, if your hair breaks, you have low elasticity. If it does not break, and returns to it’s most natural state, your elasticity level is medium to high.
How elasticity gets damaged
Heat styling and chemical treatments are the most common ways in which we find our hair to be damaged. Over-styling, weather and constant tugging hairstyles (ponytails and updos) also contribute to more damaged hair. When there are cracks and breaks in the cuticle of the hair shaft, a more porous strand is developed and therefore, more prone to breakage as they lack moisture.
What to do if you have damage
Determine your hair's current rate of elasticity first. Then learn how to maintain it.
If your curls are damaged and dry, you may have to visit your stylist for a big chop--seriously. However if the damage is minimal, you may be able to save your curls with a moisturizing deep conditioning treatment. Find a balance of protein based conditioners and moisturizers. If your hair is dull and weak and stretches a lot more than usual when wet, you’ll need to use more protein based conditioners and treatments in your routine. If your hair is more brittle and dry, focus on products that are super moisturizing, like deep conditioners and heavier leave-ins.
Hair elasticity will change from time to time--climate, diet, weather, styling, will all affect it. Determine your own, then provide your curls with what they need most to get them to really pop.