Picture a rope consisting of a lot of thinner pieces twisted together–this is not unlike hair that is made up of many cells of amino acids or proteins twisted together like a rope.
The inside of the strand of the hair is the cortex or backbone of the hair where a lot of chemical processes take place such as coloring or perming. The outer surface is the cuticle that protects the cortex with its scale like appearance. Seven to ten layers of the cuticle create a barrier to protect the cortex from the effects of the environment.
Environmental conditions break down the hair and make it less manageable and less attractive. Friction and stretching the hair is something we don’t realize can do damage. Rubbing your towel too hard or twisting and wringing the hair can chip away at the cuticle. And that old myth about brushing your hair 100 times a day will give you hag hair.
Traction Alopecia is actually a term I came across for the damage that occurs from too tight a pony tail.
Sun damage and wind damage, as we all know, is bad, right? This leads us to heat damage. Old blow-dryers and holding the blow dryer too close can be the culprits of split ends. If you get excess water out of the hair before drying it, it can reduce damage.
The very worst thing you can do is curl your hair when it is still wet. Water boils at 212*. Hair irons get hotter than that, and then the water boils inside the hair creating ruptures in the cuticle. YUCK!
Chlorine breaks the cuticle and leaves deposits and tears your hair every time you brush. Make sure you wash your hair as soon as you get out of the pool and apply a conditioner, using a pick–not a brush–to detangle. When entering a pool a little silicone on your hair will help to repel the chlorinated water.
Good luck, and may you have many good hair days!