Importance of the Cuticle
The human hair shaft is made up of three layers of dead, hard protein called keratin. The outer layer (the cuticle) is the most important in terms of styling and judging the health of the hair.
The cuticle is a hard shingle-like layer of overlapping cells that is responsible for much of the mechanical strength of the hair fiber and acts as a protective barrier for the softer inner structure of the shaft. However, a healthy cuticle is more than just a protective layer, it also represents the structure that controls the water content of the fiber which provides the shine that makes healthy hair so attractive. If the cuticle has been damaged and has closed, it will be difficult to properly color and style the hair and if the cuticles of the 100's of hair strands used to make hair extensions are not aligned in the same direction, the hair will tangle and feel courser then it should, thus hiding the true quality of the hair.
Many suppliers and manufacturers of human hair extensions buy lower quality hair which has not been carefully taken from the donor's head leading to strands of hair that are not all facing roots to ends. With the inversion of the hair being so bad, the manufacturer uses acid baths to strip the cuticle from the hair and then applies silicon treatments to provide the hair with a smooth, waxy feeling and artificial shine. Unfortunately, this shine wears out quickly and without the cuticle the hair begins to dry out and quickly degrade, leaving the unknowing customer frustrated and confused as to how their beautiful looking extensions suddenly look dull and damaged just weeks after installation.
What Kind of Hair Have You Bought?
There are many tests one can use to determine whether the hair has inverted cuticles or has had its cuticles stripped off all together, but here are a few:
- Presence of the Cuticle:Take a few strands of hair and pull them tight. Rub your index finger and thumb from roots to ends, then rub back along the hair from ends to roots. If the hair feels smooth in both directions and doesn't get rough or "tease up" when running from ends to roots, the cuticle has been stripped from the hair.
- Presence of Inverted Cuticles:Take your extensions while they are dry and run your fingers through them, if your fingers get stuck and you have to pull hard to get them to move through the hair, the extensions contain inverted cuticles. To really put your hair to the test, wet the extensions and then perform this test.