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The lowdown on the tensile strength and elasticity of your hair

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The lowdown on the <i>tensile strength and elasticity</i> of your hair

Both play an important role in the overall health of your locks.


When it comes to the overall health of your hair, there are two factors that should be prioritised - tensile strength and elasticity. Both are directly linked to how much moisture and protein is present in each strand, and are determined by your DNA along with the products you use at home. 

 

Want to figure out the secret to growing long and strong hair? Turns out, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution; it really comes down to your genetics, gender, hair type *and* shape. And that’s just only if you haven’t dyed or bleached it. “Each head of hair will have different needs at different stages due to external factors such as chemical, heat or elemental damage,” says Stuart Bane, a Sydney-based hair colour specialist and educator. 

Plus, we’re also going to throw two more factors in: tensile strength and elasticity, which are just as important to consider. But what are they anyway?

What is elasticity? 

Elasticity measures how your hair stretches and returns in its original state. It’s important for your hair to be elastic because the amount of stretch is reflective of its level of strength, and it measures the amount of pressure your hair can handle. 

To be specific, there are three types of hair elasticity: 

  • Low hair elasticity: Your hair may appear to be straw-like and break easily. Your hair might have too much protein, and instead needs more moisture and collagen. 
  • Normal hair elasticity: This is the best case scenario! Your hair is in optimal shape where it looks shiny and has lots of bounce. 

High hair elasticity: Your hair might be able to stretch a lot but not be able to bounce back to what it was, making it appear slack. Your hair might contain too much moisture and not enough protein. 

What is tensile strength?

Tensile strength is, as the name suggests, how strong your hair is. This is measured by the maximum stress (force per unit area) that your hair can bear while being stretched and pulled before breaking. This is an important factor to consider as your hair’s tensile strength is tested daily if you brush it or tie it up with a hair tie.

Fact: Hair can have low tensile strength if it’s got low *or* high elasticity, and a moisture and protein imbalance can affect the hair’s tensile strength and elasticity overall. As you can see, there really are so many factors that count towards having healthy hair! 

What to do when your hair has too much moisture

If you’ve been pumping your hair with countless hydrating hair masks and treatments, then you might want to give them a break. There is actually such a thing as over-moisturised hair which can result in high hair elasticity. “Moisturising will help with the elasticity of hair which is responsible for the suppleness, but over-moisturising means hair has an inability to hold a style,” says Bane. And we’ve all been there. 

Besides using too many treatments that result in over-moisturised hair, there are other factors that can contribute to this problem. This can include genetics (people with low hair porosity can naturally have tightly-packed cuticle cells that make it hard for water to enter the hair follicle), damage (damaged hair is more porous than healthy hair which allows a lot of moisture in), and loss of protective oils (which may be the result of over-shampooing your hair which can strip you hair of its natural oils). 

Solution: You might want to introduce a protein-based product into your routine, such as Oribe Hair Alchemy, to strengthen your hair. Or, try a pre-wash such as R+Co Oblivion Clarifying Shampoo or R+Co Palm Springs. These products contain coconut oil which can reduce protein loss in your hair when used before shampooing. 

What to do when your hair has too much protein

If you’ve gone to the other end of the spectrum where your hair has too much protein, your hair might look dull, dry or brittle. This can happen when you’ve gone overboard with protein treatments. “Protein-rich products will help with the strength of the hair, but over-keratinised hair can become ‘too hard’, making it brittle,” continues Bane. 

Your hair type can also play an important part when it comes to moisture levels. For example, curly hair can be drier than straight hair due to its curves, where each bend is a point of weakness that interrupts oil or moisture from going down the hair shaft and keeping it hydrated. 

Solution: The key here is to boost more moisture into your hair, and this can be achieved with Oribe’s Gold Lust Shampoo and Conditioner or R+Co’s ON A CLOUD Shampoo & Masque. 

In short, both your hair tensility and elasticity is super important to consider, especially if you want to have healthy-looking hair. Not sure what your hair is going through? “Find a product that has a mix of both [moisture and protein] but always ask your hairdresser for a prescriptive regimen,” finishes Bane. Noted.