Hair – A Tutorial – Everyone Thinks They Know, Yet Few Do
Hair – A Tutorial – Everyone Thinks They Know, Yet Few Do

Hair – A Tutorial – Everyone Thinks They Know, Yet Few Do

Some hair basics =
Once the hair leaves the follicle, it is in essence…dead.

Flat hair is curly hair.

Oval hair is wavy.

Round hair is straight.

All hair has split ends (except virgin hair = never been cut, as in a baby’s hair before it’s first haircut), the process of cutting the hair splits the ends. Although not visible to the naked eye, over time, it will travel down the shaft of the hair.

The best way for you to understand hair is…each individual hair is like a snake. The point being, you know how a snake is covered with scales. Well, magnified, hair looks very much like that. Excessive heat and or chemicals will leave the scales (cuticle) open and away from the body of the shaft. Giving the hair a rough damaged feel.

How a perm (short for permanent wave) works, is… the perming solution (alkaline) softens the chemical bonds in the hair (cortex) and the hair accepts whatever shape is imposed upon it. Once removed (rinsed out), the neutralizer (acid) is applied and hardens the chemical bonds in the hair, locking in whatever shape imposed upon the hair. So if you think of it as the “snake”….the scales open up away from the body. You roll up the snake and force the scales to close back…now you have a curly snake (and probably very ticked off).

Straightening is the same process as perming, with the goal being to remove as apposed to place curl in the hair. Straightener is in essence, thick perm solution to hold the hair in place. Once the desired effect is achieved, it is removed (rinsed/washed out) and a neutralizer is applied. The hair must be kept to the desired shape while the neutralizing process is underway or the effect will be diminished

Products (shampoo, conditioner, etc…) are rated on a PH scale (potential hydrogen 0-14)…the higher the number the higher the alkaline content (alkaline = bad = can be found in dirt = cheap and abundant). The lower the PH number the higher the acid content (acids = good = man made, thus not cheap). This in itself should give you a good idea as to why you can get a bottle of shampoo from the drug store cheap, and professional product cost more. If you take care of your hair and scalp it will show.

Colour (professional) is composed of very small colour molecules, and are activated by developer (hydrogen peroxide). Drug store colour is comprised of much larger molecules, thus the often experienced fading and harshness (as well as price difference). The developer comes in various strengths = the higher the strength, the higher the lift (lightening). This is only acceptable to a point, then lightener (bleach) must be implemented with a lower level of developer. Maintaining the hairs elasticity is crucial = once elasticity is lost via excessive chemical processes the hair will be very brittle when dry and prone to breakage. When wet, chemically over processed hair will be like corn silk and stretch like crazy and snap off. The developer assists the colour molecules to penetrate the shaft and provide lift (depending on developer volume used), at which point they expand and fill the shaft. Once the developer is added to the colour, the application process must be completed quickly.

Shaping/cutting the hair is a complex process. Requiring characteristics of the hair in combination with the desired effect once finished, all to come into play. This is something that can and is taught. With time and practice one can be quite efficient at this (perfectionists tend to do better with this skill), BUT…few are naturals.

Finishing/styling is the process to acquire the final desired look. When done well can disguise a poor cut (most of the time). This is a process anyone can master and most fail at. For the most part it consists of basic physics = heat expands, cold contracts. A dryer in combination with a brush (size and shape of the bush/brushes is important) is what imposes a desired shape on the hair as a whole. The hair is held in the desired shape by the brush while heat is applied to the hair, the hair will give into what is being forced upon it. If the heat is removed and the brush is held in place (or cold air is put to the hair), the shape imposed will lock in. This process can be thought of like a perm. The heat acts like the solution and the cold, or cooling down process, like the neutralizer. If the hair is not held in place after heat is applied, it will want to return back to it’s natural (or chemically altered) state. As well, if the hair is shaped one way by the process and then shaped the exact opposite way. The hair will go straight and no longer accept shaping. Any shape imposed upon the hair can be relaxed the desired amount, by blow drying and not allowing the shape to be locked in by the cooling process. Finishing products such as gels, waxes, moulding creams and sprays are used to give a desired effect and hold.

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