Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How to Tell if You Are Making Progress in Growing Thicker Hair
Also, hair terms to help you develop your own personal hair routine

Did you know that there is a way to measure how thick your hair is? If your hair is temporarily thin due to hair damage or a problem with your health, you can measure it as it is now. Then, after you have worked on your overall health and the health of your hair, you can measure it again. If your hair measures thicker, you will know you are making progress.

If your hair is in peak condition now, you may not be able to increase the volume. But, even so, measuring the volume will give you an idea of your hair's natural type. If you work with your type, you will be able to bring out your hair's individual beauty.

So, here's how to measure your hair's volume: If your hair is long enough, put your hair into a ponytail. It doesn't matter how long the ponytail is. Perhaps, your hair is sort, and you will only half a half-inch or so of hair sticking below the ponytail band. That's ok. Also, if you have short layers you may need to make the ponytail on top of your head in order to gather as much of the layers as possible into your ponytail. Don't worry if this ponytail looks funny. You're only wearing it for a minute in order to take a measurement. If your hair is long, make a regular ponytail at the back of your head.

After you have your hair in a ponytail, get out your tape measure. Measure around the circumfrance of your ponytail.

If the measurement you get is less than two inches (5 centimeters), your hair is thin.
If the measurement you get is between two to four inches or 5 to 10 centimeters, your hair is average.
If the measurement is greater than 4 inches or 10 centimeters, your hair is above average in volume.

Do not worry if your hair measures "thin". Thin hair can be lovely when styled correctly. However, do try to improve the health of your hair. Many a woman whose hair was thin or even normal has increased the volume of her hair by taking better care of it.

If you are trying to increase your hair volume, repeat the measurement every six months or so to see if you are making improvement. Remember, it will take some time for healthy new hairs to grow long enough to be included in your ponytail. So, growing volume is a long-term project. It may take you a year or two to see improvement.

Many people mistakenly call fine hair "thin". Fine and thin are not the same thing. In fact, some women with fine hair actually measure as above average in volume when they take the ponytail test.

Here's an explanation of what it means to have fine, normal, or coarse hair: These have to do with the texture, rather than the volume of hair.

Fine means that the individual strands are narrower. If you hold up a few individual strands to the light, they may appear almost translucent. Children often have fine hair. Also, many people of Scandanavian descent have fine hair. Fine hair can be some of the most beautiful hair in the world. If it is healthy, it will have a lovely sheen and a lovely color (frequently blondish). It will be soft and pleasing to the touch. However, if it is not cared for, fine hair is easily damaged. If it is damaged, it will look scraggly and brittle. Fine hair has its own special set of hair care rules. If you have fine hair, do some research to find out how to bring out your hair's distinctive beauty.

Medium hair means that the strands are neither fine nor coarse. It probably won't be as soft to the touch as fine hair, but it will be softer than coarse hair. If you have medium hair, you probably find that your hair is easy to manage. Don't take this ease of care for granted, however. Any type of hair needs a little TLC to maintain its health. Medium hair can be any color, but will likely be anywhere from dark blonde to dark brown.

Coarse hair means that the strands are larger in diameter. Though coarse doesn't sound like a pretty word, coarse hair is usually luxious and gorgeous. Like fine hair, coarse hair has its own special set of hair care rules. Also, like fine hair, it must be well-cared for in order to reach and maintain its full beauty. While coarse hair is not limited to any one ethnic group, it is often found in people of Mediterranean, African, Native American, and South American descent. Coarse hair can be found in many colors, but it is often a beautiful jet-black.

When I say that fine and coarse hair have their own sets of hair care rules, I mean that you should learn how to work with its particular properties. I don't mean that you need to spend a lot of time on your hair. In fact, if you know what works for your hair's particular type, you should be able to care for it with a minimum of fuss.

The next thing to know about your hair is whether it is straight or wavy or curly. That would seem to be an obvious distinction. But, people often fall somewhere in between one of two categories, and they may be confused about how to best care for it. For example, my hair is somewhere between straight and wavy.

A man named Andre Walker came up with the following classification to help you tell where you are on the straight to curly scale:

Straight Hair
1a - Absolutely stick straight
1b - Straight but with a slight body wave, just enough to add some volume. Hair in general does not look wavy
1c - Straight with body wave and one or two visible S-waves (e.g. nape of neck or temples)

Wavy Hair
2a - Loose, stretched out S-waves throughout the hair
2b - Shorter, more distinct S-waves (similar to waves from braiding damp hair)
2c - Distinct S-waves and the odd spiral curl forming here and there

Curly Hair
3a - Big, loose spiral curls
3b - Bouncy ringlets
3c - Tight corkscrews

Super Curly Hair
4a - Tightly coiled S-curls
4b - Tightly coiled hair bending in sharp angles (Z-pattern)

Another factor to consider is if your hair is oily, normal, or dry. Remember, the strands of hair are not living cells, and they don't produce oilness or dryness on their own. The scalp and hair follicles are what produces the natural oils that protect our hair. Sometimes, this gets out of balance. Also, wind and sun can dry hair strands, while humidity can make hair damp.

Why is it important to understand the texture, the volume, and the amount of curl in your hair? Most hair products are geared to a particular type of hair. Also, many hair techniques work better for one type of hair than another. If you understand your own hair's qualities, you can develop a simple hair care routine that will bring out your hair's individual beauty.



Julieann said...

Elizabeth---I have really learned a lot about taking care of, having long hair, etc. I thought, I knew a lot...LOL. Thank you for these series of posts.


P.S. My hair is type 1a :)

Elizabeth said...

Hi Julieann.

I'm glad you are enjoying the posts. They are helping me remember to be kind to my hair. I am a 1c.