Could frequent co-washing and wash day regimens be causing hygral fatigue damage to your hair?
What is Hygral Fatigue?
Hygral fatigue is the damage that occurs to the hair fiber from the repeated process of expansion (when the hair is wet) and contraction (when the hair dries). Whenever we wet our hair, the hair shaft must expand to accommodate all the water and goodies from the products we are applying to our hair. Our hair also has to shrink (contract) back to its normal size, but during this process, the hair can split and break. The constant expansion and contraction of the hair can eventually cause damage to the hair fiber, weakening the hair cuticle and cortex.
Hygral Fatigue Impacts to Hair
Hygral fatigue is one of the many causes of hair damage since stress is being added to the hair through the expansion and contraction process. We all know that applying stress to the hair (pulling and tugging at the hair, combing and styling the hair every day, etc…) will cause damage and eventually lead to breakage. This is also true for hygral fatigue. If the hair cuticle is under stress from constantly being expanded and contracted, the cuticle will eventually be exposed, leading to porosity issues and breakage. Since textured hair is more susceptible to damage and tends to take in more water during the washing process than any other hair type, it is especially important to take measures to prevent this.
Preventing Hygral Fatigue
Preventing hygral fatigue is ultimately all about maintaining the inner protein structure of the hair shaft. Here are a couple of ways to beat hygral fatigue: Using polar oils as a pre-poo helps prevent damage done to the hair shaft by reducing the extent to which the hair swells. One of the key features of polar oils is its ability to penetrate the hair shaft, which helps to reinforce the hair’s protein structure before cleansing the hair. According to The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, polar oils protect the hair shaft by binding to the hair’s inner proteins, which in turn reduces the protein’s chemical ability to bind to water molecules. Thus, the expansion of the hair when wet is kept at a minimum, and less damage is done to the hair fiber when it contracts. Since coconut oil is a unique, versatile oil, it is fitting to use for a pre-poo to prevent hygral fatigue because of its ability to bind to the natural protein structure of the hair, helping the hair retain moisture and reinforcing the hair fiber, making it stronger.