What is hygral fatigue and what can you do about it?

What is hygral fatigue and what can you do about it?

What is Hygral Fatigue

Moisture-soaked hair becomes brittle and fragile. Hygral tiredness is the term used to describe this condition. Excess moisture entering and leaving the hair cuticle causes hygral fatigue. Scales overlapping one another make form the cuticle layer. The scales fit tightly together. When moisture enters the cuticle layer, the scales in the hair shaft expand. That moisture evaporates, the scales shrink back down. So then the hair swells from repeated and excessive swelling and deswelling of the hair cuticle when it takes on water, the curls can become frizzy or frizzier.

This excessive swelling and deswelling can result in the breaking of the hair cuticle and cell membrane complex or CMC. The CMC is what bonds our hair's layers together. All of this over time makes it harder for your hair to hold in moisture and thus making your hairdryer and more brittle.

Over conditioning, your hair through excessive deep conditioning treatments or sleeping with your hair damp might create hygral exhaustion. Braiding or twisting your hair while it's still moist and letting it "air" dry might produce hygral weariness. Medium and high porosity hair is more susceptible to hygral fatigue since the cuticle opens more easily than low porosity hair.

hygral fatigue in hair
Photographer: Rodrigo Borges de Jesus | Source: Unsplash

Our Hair Explained

The hair is a complex organ that generally has 3 layers, cuticle which is the outer layer, the cortex or middle layer, and the medulla which is the innermost layer, although not everyone has a medulla. A keratin-based protein filament develops in the hair follicle and becomes hair. When this hair follicle produces hair, new hair is produced, and the old hair that is already there is pushed up. Anagen, catagen, and telogen are the three growth phases that hair goes through. All of these factors help us to understand our hair and its growth cycle.

In order to grow long hair, we need to look at length retention. For that to happen, hair needs to have a level of elasticity. The hair's strength and elasticity are dependent on the amount of moisture it has. Regular shampoos and conditioners are key in maintaining our hair's health. However, we can sometimes overdo it when it comes to conditioning and moisture. What if I told you that while moisture is beneficial to our hair, too much of it might be harmful?

How to tell if you have over moisturized your hair

  • Hair is limp and has low elasticity
  • It can have excessive frizzing
  • Curls can get looser and feel more porous.
  • Your hair feels dry constantly, even after “air” drying
  • Hair feels “gummy” or weak when it's wet

Preventing Hygral Fatigue

The first thing in preventing hygral fatigue is understanding your hair's porosity. Porosity is how easily your hair absorbs water. Hair can be low porosity, medium porosity, or high porosity. Low porosity hair has the hardest time absorbing moisture. You can tell if your hair is low porosity because it takes a longer time for your hair to get wet and your products will sit on your hair. The cuticles are more densely compact and doesn't open as easily as medium porosity hair. Hair with a medium porosity absorbs water quickly, causing the cuticles to open and shut. Water may easily penetrate high porosity hair because the cuticles are lifted, yet because the cuticles remain raised, the water will quickly evaporate. Because of this, high porosity hair is the most susceptible to hygral fatigue and low porosity hair is the least susceptible.

Avoiding keeping your hair wet for extended periods of time will also prevent over-moisturizing your hair. You want to maintain the correct balance of moisture for your hair. Doing deep conditioning treatments only when you need them. I discuss why I don't deep condition my hair in my youtube video. Because we can overdo it, and deep condition when we don't need it.

As previously mentioned, sleeping with your hair wet, doing styles such as twists and braids on wet hair, then leaving it to naturally dry are all ways that will eventually lead to hygral fatigue.

Air drying your hair

Although controversial, air drying can lead to hygral fatigue. Because your hair is left wet to dry naturally. During this process of drying, the cell membrane complex, or CMC, which is what bonds the hair's layers together gets damaged. I like to think of this like when you leave a gummy bear in the water for too long. The gummy bear will grow larger as it absorbs the water, but it also gets mushy and breaks down. This leads to hair that is frizzy, more prone to tangles and damage. This can also lead to dull and lackluster hair as the hair is not getting too much moisture.

What to do if have Hygral Fatigue?

Reduce the amount of moisturising shampoos and conditioners you use if your hair is over-moisturized. You can use protein-rich products to preserve your hair from additional breaking if you have dry, damaged hair. Protein treatments come in different forms from masks to treatments.

Use coconut oil to reduce protein loss, you can also use it to seal in moisture and seal the cuticle. Coconut oil also has properties that help lock in moisture. [ Read: How To Use Coconut Oil On Hair ] The reason why you should use coconut oil as a pre-poo treatment is that it has the ability to penetrate your hair shaft, whether your hair is coarse or fine. Coconut oil also has properties that help lock in moisture. [ How To Use Coconut Oil On Hair ]. Products such as our Get Slick Hair Smoothie list coconut oil as one of the ingredients that will help maintain the integrity of your hair.

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