Many natural hair discussions, guides, articles, etc., often center around any issues or difficulty one may have when caring for their natural hair. While many naturals know what NOT to do to their strands and are aware of potentially damaging hair care habits, some may wonder what are the signs your natural hair is actually healthy? Listed below are six signs your natural hair is healthy and you are maintaining a strong hair care regimen:
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1) YOUR HAIR HOLDS MOISTURE
Hydration is an integral part to maintaining good hair health. Without adequate moisture, your strands may dry out and break off. One of the signs your natural hair is healthy is if your hair can hold moisture. If your strands are able to readily absorb and retain moisture, this signifies that the hair cuticle is in a healthy state. A healthy hair cuticle is able to lay smoothly and lock in the nourishing ingredients that you have applied to your hair.
Your hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture is also known as its porosity. Damaged, unhealthy hair and improper hair care habits can lead to excessively and constantly dry hair. Excessively dry hair may create tangles, cause breakage, and other problems. Heat, chemicals, and other damaging tools you apply to your hair can permanently damage your strands both internally and externally. Damage done to the hair cuticle will cause it to be left in a raised state. In addition, a damaged hair cuticle will consist of gaps and cracks throughout that make it difficult for your strands to hold moisture.
2) YOUR STRANDS “BOUNCE BACK” / HAVE ELASTICITY
Another one of the tell-tale signs your natural hair is healthy is if your strands can spring back to their curled up form after stretching and other forms of manipulation. This is also known as your hair’s elasticity. Healthy hair should be strong enough to withstand certain degrees of manipulation (e.g. combing) without snapping and breaking off. The elasticity of your hair is related to its protein content.
Your hair is made of protein and it is protein that gives your hair its strength and structure. If your hair breaks off easily even with gentle manipulation, this is an indication that your hair is in a weak state and may be in need of protein. Monthly protein treatments are a great way to upkeep an adequate moisture and protein balance in your hair.
3) YOU EXPERIENCE SHRINKAGE
Shrinkage is often something that many naturals try to limit or avoid all together. However, shrinkage can actually be a good thing to experience and may be a sign of good hair health. What is shrinkage? “Shrinkage” describes the contracted form your natural curl pattern takes when it coils up to its full shape. It is also what gives curly, coily, and kinky hair types their unique appearance and properties, but also gives the appearance of shorter hair than actuality.
Shrinkage is a sign that your strands have been adequately moisturized and are taking their natural form. It is also an indicator of good elasticity. Hair strands that are damaged often have a looser curl pattern than usual as the internal structure has been altered. This is especially noticeable with heat damaged hair and there may even be some straight pieces visible.
4) YOUR HAIR MAINTAINS ITS THICKNESS FROM ROOT TO TIP
One visible sign of healthy natural hair is when your hair appears full from root to tip and does not drastically thin out towards the ends. Dense hair from your roots to ends signifies that you are retaining a good amount of length and aren’t breaking your ends (or roots) off. Harsh detangling, friction from clothing, and a lack of moisture, are just a few examples of hair care habits that could be hurting your hair health and interfering with the thickness of your hair.
5) YOU DON’T EXPERIENCE A LOT OF BREAKAGE
While shed hair is normal, hair breakage is not and should be limited and if at all possible, avoided. If you find that you rarely experience breakage and don’t hear your strands “snap” when combing, this may be one of the signs your natural hair is healthy.
Hair breakage is often times caused by harsh hair care habits, heat and / or chemical damage, or a lack of a proper moisture and protein balance in your hair. Additionally, breakage is usually preventable. So, if you find that breakage is a once in a while occurrence for you, this is a good sign that your natural hair is healthy and strong.
6) YOU HAVE AND MAINTAIN A CONSISTENT HAIR CARE REGIMEN
A beneficial and simple way to maintain healthy strands and continue healthy hair care habits is to come up with a regimen. If you already have a hair care regimen that you follow consistently, you are on the right track towards healthy natural hair. You could come up with a hair care regimen to help with moisturizing, styling, or preserving your hair at night. Regardless, if you have a consistent hair care regimen that produces desirable results, this is a good indicator that your natural hair is healthy.