Rita Okechukwu · Oct. 26, 2021
Moisture! Moisture!! has been chanted by all naturals as a life-saver, but too much of even a positive practice can have negative effects. Excessive hair moisturization can lead to a kind of hair damage that is not commonly known - "hygral fatigue".
What is Hygral Fatigue and How Does It Happen?
Hygral fatigue is simply the damage to hair cuticles caused by excess moisture in the hair follicles. It helps to know a bit about the hair structure, your hair strands has three layers; the cuticle, cortex, and the medulla.
- The cuticle: This is the outer tough layer of your hair strands made up of smaller cuticle cells that overlap each other.
Read more on the hair structure and growth here.
At the presence of moisture in the hair, the cuticles immediately expand to allow moisture in, and when the hair dries, the cuticles contract, with this constant expansion and contraction just like a rubber band, it overextends and its elasticity is severely affected causing hair cuticles to breakdown.
What Happens to Your Hair When it Experiences Hygral Fatigue?
The endpoint of hygral fatigue is ultimately breakage as the hair cuticles get weaker and weaker. But leading to this, your hair gives a lot of clues and signs to tell you of the moisture damage been done. Some of these signs in your hair include;
- Uncontrollable Hair frizziness
- Hair acquires a gummy texture
- Reduced hair elasticity
- Constant hair breakage
- Dryness; this is because the hair cuticles can no longer hold moisture
- Excessive hair shedding.
What Can Cause Hygral Fatigue?
Since excess moisture weakens hair cuticles, they can also be strengthen with protein treatments. But when there is an imbalance in the Moisture - Protein ratio of the hair in favor of the moisture contents, hygral fatigue can set in. Some of the causes of hygral fatigue, including some wrong hair routines include;
Over-shampooing : Our hair contains a natural layer of protective oil called 18-metil eicosanoic acid (18-MEA), which gives the hair hydrophibic properties. That is, the oils helps the hair strands repel water.
Over-shampooing can strip the hair of these moisture repeling oil, making the hair susceptible to over moisturization.
PH imbalance: This is the acidic and alkaline level of your hair on a scale of 1 to 14, with values above 7 considered alkaline while values below 7 are acidic.
Normal PH value of a healthy hair strand ranges from 3.67 - 5.5. An increase in these values indicate a shift towards alkalinity from using excessively alkaline hair products which strips the hair of its nature water repeling protective oil, allowing excess moisture into the cuticles.
Over conditioning: Overnight conditioning and having deep conditioners in your hair for long periods of time is highly inadvisable, can lead to over moisturization and ultimately hygral fatigue.
Wetting hair and not let it dry off, especially going to bed with the wet hair.
Excessive Use of Hair Masks
Hair care routine with only Moisture treatments and no Protein Treatments.
Hygral Fatigue and Hair Porosity
Low Porosity : This simply means that the hair cuticles are tightly closed, thus the hair strands find it difficult to absorb moisture. These hair types have lower possibility of hygral fatigue because the cuticles are not able to absorb enough moisture in the first place. While,
High Porosity : Means the hair cuticles are loosely packed and open, thus the hair strands find it difficult to retain moisture. These hair types are more susceptible to hygral fatigue because the cuticle expand and contract very easily.
The right balance of protein and moisture in your hair strands makes for a strong, heaithy, growing shiny crown of hair.
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On any wash day or hair treatmeant day, Select a piece of your hair, pull it straight to its maximium length, let it go and watch closely if it bounces back to its original and natural curly state and how much it does. This helps you determine your hair elasticity.
If it does not bounce back then it needs protein and its moisture content is becoming damaging, even if the hair is dry at that moment.
Shrinkage = Healthy Hair
Let me know down below, how elastic is your? Noticing any signs of hygral fatigue? Love to hear from you.
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