Your natural hair, the hair that grows out of your scalp, has 3 key structures that give your hair it’s natural appearance and behavior. The cuticle, the cortex and the medulla.
When it comes to how healthy your human hair extensions will look and feel, there is no structure more important than the cuticle.
If you are purchasing human hair extensions, the cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair that protects them from harmful elements like UV radiation from the sun, hot tools, and other environmental stress that can cause damage. The cuticle protects the interior structures of the hair which are essential to retaining moisture and giving your human hair extensions natural bounce and elasticity. It also gives your hair shine.
The cuticle is made from millions of microscopic scales that all points downward and in the same direction. That is what it means to be “cuticle aligned”. All natural hair is cuticle aligned, so when it comes to extension hair you must demand that the hair your stylist uses is cuticle aligned.
If it is not cuticle aligned then the hair you are using has been collected from multiple sources and more than likely coated in silicone to smooth the cuticle, because hair that is not cuticle aligned will tangle, become matted and will not look natural. When it is coated in silicone the hair will have the appearance of being healthy, but will quickly become ruined after a few washes.
When it comes to your extension hair you are going to want a healthy cuticle because the extension hair will be shiny, healthy, smooth to the touch and will blend seamlessly with your natural hair. Hair that has damaged cuticles will become easily tangled and matted and will not blend with your natural hair because it will be dull and dry.
How can you tell if the hair you are purchasing has a damaged cuticle?
There are two quick tests you can perform on the extension hair you are about to purchase to see whether or not the cuticle is healthy or damaged. The first test is to take a strand of hair between two fingers and gently pull at the ends.
Healthy hair will stretch about 30% before it snaps. If the hair snaps immediately, then you know that the cuticle is damaged. The more it stretches, the healthier the cuticle and the interior structures of the hair are.
To test whether or not the hair you are purchasing is coated in silicone is the flame test. First pull a couple of long strands of hair out and hold them above a flame. If the hair singes and burns upwards while smelling like burnt hair – it is real. If it sort of melts into a ball and smells like burning plastic – it is fake.
Other ways of determining whether or not the cuticle is healthy is to observe the appearance and feel of the hair. Hair with damaged cuticles will be dull and will be rough to the touch.
How Do You Protect The Cuticle?
You are going to want to choose hair care products that are specifically formulated to strengthen and protect the cuticle, while also avoiding ingredients that will damage it. Products like Cuticle Lisse are formulated with proteins and nutrients that protect your and strengthen your extensions. All Cuticle Lisse products are free of sulphates and parabens, the two most common ingredients in cheap hair care products that will damage your hair.