Hair elasticity is the amount a hair strand will stretch and then return to its beginning length, without breaking. These measurements are classified as high, medium, or low. Usually, a hair strand with medium elasticity will stretch up to half of its length and then return to its original length. A hair strand with low elasticity will stretch up to one third of its length and will often break during this process. A hair strand with high elasticity will stretch up to double its length, then return to its original length.
Elasticity is important because it is a measure of the tensile strength of your hair. Did you know that a healthy strand of hair can support a 100 gram weight without breaking? That is the equivalent of 40 pennies being suspended from one single strand of hair. Elasticity is dependent upon a healthy cortex, a hair shaft that has poor elasticity can break easily with grooming and with product application.
To determine the elasticity of your hair take a few strands of your wet hair from different sections of your head. One at a time place each end of the strand between your thumb and index finger on each hand and gently pull. If the hair stretches a bit, then returns to its original length you have medium elasticity. If it snaps and breaks while stretching, you have low elasticity. If it stretches a long way, then when released it does not fully return to its original length you have high elasticity.
While your elasticity can change with age, diet, the biggest factor is styling. Over exposure to heat and chemicals are the leading reasons for low elasticity.
You can improve your hairs elasticity through hair care.
- If you have low elasticity you hair needs additional moisture. Avoid using protein-laced products and look into a hydrating hair mask. If you are looking to achieve elongation or straighter looks try banding or braiding wet hair, allow to dry then release. This will gently stretch the hair without too much stress or heat.
- If you have high elasticity your hair needs additional protein. Step up your protein products. Avoid heavier styling creams that will weigh down your hair and further elongate your curls or waves. Try plopping or pineappling your hair if long, else try twisting your wet hair to give your curls more life.
- If you have normal porosity remember to keep a healthy balance of both protein and moisture and keep doing what you are doing.
Remember to check your hair’s health regularly and vary your hair regimen accordingly.