Did you know that the scale-like structure of the cuticle normally has approximately ten layers of cells – in damaged hair these often degrade, resulting in fewer layers, weakening the hair itself and reducing the layer of protection surrounding the cortex. Damaged cuticles spread out and expand, leaving the cortex exposed, destabilised and requiring treatment.

Hair care products are usually designed to target a specific problem. Because of this they will vary in intensity; a mild dose of dandruff is likely to be treatable at home, whereas serious chemical damage will require expert advice and professional treatment. Damaging influences include:

Mechanical Influences
This includes combing, back-combing, and the use of a hair curler. These methods can rub against the hair cuticles causing them to flake and tear. Wet hair is particularly susceptible as the cuticles are swollen, potentially exposing the inner cortex. Extensive brushing can lead to traction alopecia and can cause breakage in dry and brittle hair.

Factors include light (UV and visible light), salt and chlorine water. These can all contribute to the breakdown of chemical bonds within hair structure. Heat from sunlight can also dry out hair and make it susceptible to damage.

Using a curling iron, straighteners, blow dryer or dryer hood. Heat breaks down the temporary bonds, which hold together polypeptide chains within the hair. Hair can then be set into a new style. Over-exposure to heat can irreparably damage the structure of hair and may also damage the scalp, leading to hair loss.

Chemical Influences
Includes coloring, lightening and perming services, which are designed to penetrate the outer protective cuticle, so as to affect the inner cortex directly. Perming chemicals break down disulphate bonds, which hold together the polypeptide chains of keratin. If hair and scalp are over exposed to these chemicals, severe damage can occur.

A humid environment opens up pores and cuticles leaving them exposed to damaging influences.