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The secret behind shiny hair

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 10:12 AM

The cut has to flatter the client, but some new studies indicate a further requirement for women to feel great about their hair: shine. P&G Beauty recently used "eye-tracking" technology in a study that followed participants' eyes as they looked at pictures of models' faces and hair. The study found that their gaze lingered on frizzy and damaged hair longer than on the model's other features. Damaged hair also correlated with the participants estimating that the model was older.

However, when the model had smooth, shiny hair, participants' eyes were drawn to the shiniest portion of the hair and then lingered on the face. Models with "good hair" were judged to be an average of four years younger than the same models shown with damaged hair!

good hair = high self-esteem

When a woman perceives that she is having a "good hair day," she's likely to have an all-around good day, concludes a study conducted by Yale University psychology professor Dr. Marianne LaFrance. Conversely, LaFrance found that experiencing a "bad hair day" led to reduced self-esteem, increased self-consciousness and increased social insecurity. Within this study, a "good hair day" was defined largely by shiny hair that was free from frizz and kinks.

As the eye-tracker study supports, how one wears one's hair or how healthy-looking or wholesome it looks can significantly impact how people feel about themselves as well as the impressions others form of them, LaFrance said of the two studies.

layers of shine

According to the P&G Beauty studies, three components contribute to what we consider "shiny hair":

  • The F-layer. The workhorse behind healthy hair, the F-layer is the outermost group of water-repelling molecules that encase the hair cuticle. Responsible for hair's natural water-resistance (hydrophobocity), the F-layer keeps hair soft and fights off damage caused by heat styling or frequent exposure to water. However, frequent coloring or chemical over-processing gradually will diminish the F-layer and may lead to dull, damaged hair. While dull hair results from the rough, damaged surface of broken hair cuticles and frayed ends, the F-layer protects the cuticle and keeps it smooth to allow for shine. While strongest in virgin hair that has not been colored, new conditioning products may be able to replace the F-layer and return even frequently colored hair to its naturally hydrophobic state.
  • The Chroma-Band. When the human eye perceives shine, it's actually seeing two separate bands reflected against the hair. The Chroma-Band is created when light is reflected from the center of the hair shaft where pigment cells are located. The Chroma-Band releases true hair color information from inside the hair fiber.
  • The Shine-Band. Revealing almost a pure reflection of light, the Shine-Band complements the Chroma-Band on the hair's surface. When healthy, the cuticle reflects light on its surface, resulting in a visible Shine-Band. However, environmental, chemical or mechanical interference can cause uplifting of the cuticle scale edges, which makes hair feel rough and look dull. When extreme, the entire cuticle layer may be removed, leading to breakage and splits in the shaft.

In order to observe the two bands in action, take a close look at your next client's hair after a particularly good blowout. The reflection of light should show both a line of light and a band of reflected color directly beside it. You have just witnessed the presence of both bands that determine healthy, shiny hair. Give every client that shiny look, and you'll have plenty of referrals!

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