Published on May 25, 2023. Last Updated on November 20, 2023.
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Hygral fatigue is the damage to hair follicles customarily caused by repetitive expansion and contraction of the hair follicle strands. Extreme swelling occurs when excessive moisture reaches your inner cortex, making your hair grow brittle, rough and dry, dull and frizzy. It can also develop an irregular pattern or texture.
To better understand hygral fatigue, it helps to have a basic understanding of hair’s structure and inner workings. There are three hair layers explained below;
- Medulla – innermost hair follicle layer. It may not always occur in all hair.
- The cortex is the thickest layer of hair, giving your follicles strength, color, and texture.
- The outer cuticle layer generally comprises dead cells that interlock like fish scales. It locks moisture into your hair, protecting the cortex and the medulla.
Expansion and contraction are part of the hair follicle’s natural lifecycle. Before water enters the follicle, it passes through the protective cuticle of your cortex.
This results in high moisture levels in hair follicles.
Its results are low elastic and weak strands causing hair breakage. Before diving into the symptoms and treatment, you can determine whether you are susceptible to hydra fatigue.
Which Hair Type Is Most Susceptible
Fatigue is not predisposed to anyone and can occur in any hair type. However, individuals born with highly porous hair are at higher risk of being affected due to open shafts and widely spaced cuticles that readily absorb and release water.
Causes of Hydral Fatigue
Using non-protective oils
Hair naturally repels water. Over-shampooing and increased use of other alkaline substances rid your hair of the natural 18-MEA (18metileicosanoic acid) responsible for coating hair follicles and providing hydrophobic properties.
Over moisturizing hair and using shampoos usually leads to hydra fatigue. It is widespread in naturally porous hair. Besides this, frequently using deep conditioning products or hair masks increases the risk of hair fatigue.
Loss of pH balance
pH balance best determines acidity and alkalinity levels in the scalp. Ranging from 1 to 14, anything between 1–7 indicates acidity, while above 8–14 shows alkaline levels. For the hair shaft, the average pH score must remain between levels 3.67 and 5.6. Frequently using alkaline shampoos reduces the protective 18-MEA layer, resulting in cuticle breakdown from increased hair fiber friction.
Damaged hair is highly porous because the protective cuticle of the cells can easily break. Again, subjecting hair to excessive chemical treatments, high heat, rough, harsh grooming, and environmental factors also damages hair.
People born with porous hair are more susceptible to hygral fatigue when compared to people with less porous hair. Sometimes, people can be more susceptible to the condition due to pre-existing health conditions. Other times, those pre-existing health conditions don’t cause hygral fatigue directly but still impact the hair negatively in other ways. In this case, people can make the honest mistake of overcompensating for lost moisture and subjecting their hair to hygral fatigue.
This patient was trying to be extra attentive and conscious of her hair health after growing out her hair post-chemotherapy. Unfortunately, she noticed she had brittle hair and split ends that kept breaking off – effectively robbing her of seeing any hair length growth. She eventually sought out professional advice at Dr. U Hair and Skin clinic and was able to address her hygral fatigue that was causing the brittle hair and strand breakage.
It’s always best to catch a condition like hygral fatigue as early as possible. Take action if you notice that your hair is showing any of these signs.
Signs of Hygral Fatigue
- Curled-up hair patches.
- Tangled hair that easily breaks and shreds quickly.
- Curly hair has an irregular pattern or texture.
- Gummy hair feels thin and stringy when wet.
- Brittle hair.
Is it Hygral Fatigue or Over-moisturizing?
Hygral fatigue and over-moisturizing are synonyms that are applied interchangeably. Over-moisturizing means using many hair products, like oils and conditioners, to moisturize your hair and can easily trigger hygral fatigue.
Is Hygral Fatigue reversible?
The quick answer to this is no.
Once your hair reaches 30 percent of its original size, hygral fatigue becomes irreversible. Not to worry, in any case. Here is how you reverse the process and begin prevention.
How to Reverse Hygral Fatigue
Hygral fatigue is irreversible. Your best option is to wait for the hair to grow out. Besides this, you can also prevent further damage from occurring by striking a balance between moisture and protein. Sticking to a healthy hair care regime that alternates moisture and protein input in your hair will deliver the best results. You can also cut your hair and allow for natural repair to take place as well.
More sources of cuticle layer damage come from:
- Blow drying
- Chlorine from swimming pools
- Frequently bleaching or using hairy dye
- Perming and hair straightening
- Roughly drying hair with a towel
Quick and Simple Ways to Avoid Hygral Fatigue
Holistic, balanced care
Dr. UGro’s gashee products blend a natural mix of ancient tree healers and modern science. Packed with active phytoactive ingredients, you will discover why our components have become a favorite from the list of ingredients. Here is an example of the results of a Gashee user:
Wearing a swim cap
Swimming pools contain chlorine chemicals that kill bacteria. Put on a swim cap to prevent harsh treatment that occurs once chlorine from coming into contact with your hair follicles.
Proper hair brushing
For those with curly hair, using a wide-toothed brush for combing is advisable. If you have straight hair, it is essential to wait for it to dry, then comb it. Alternatively, you can use gentle strokes to brush your hair.
Apply coconut oil when prewashing hair.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid that hair follicles absorb more quickly than other oils. It reduces protein loss in your hair when used as a prewash.
Using shampoos with a lower pH
Since alkaline shampoos reduce the 18-MEA layer that naturally protects your hair follicles, buy shampoos with a pH of about 5.5 since these match your scalp levels.
Other options that prevent the excess moisture from penetrating your cuticle and causing further damage include:
- Avoid deep conditioning your hair for too long.
- Keeping the time that you spend deep conditioning your hair to a minimum.
- Add avocado or olive oils to your hair regime to prevent dry and brittle hair.
- Wait for your hair to dry before rewetting.
- Avoid using moisturizer-free products and protein-based products only since they lead to hair breakage.
- Use shampoos with a lower pH that have less hair frizziness.
End of the Road
Stand against hygral fatigue by parting from dull, brittle, and frizzed hair by starting on a healthy hair care regime. While genetics may determine your hair type, a healthy regime can help alleviate hygral fatigue and restore confidence. Contact a dermatologist for a quality buck if you want a professional touch.
Higuera, V. (2019, August 22). What Type of Hair Porosity Do You Have? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/hair-porosity
Dias, M. I. (2015). Hair cosmetics: An overview. International Journal of Trichology, 7(1), 2. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.153450
Li, N., Li, N., & Li, N. (2022). Gashee Products: Hair Growth. Dr. UGro Gashee. https://ugro.com/gashee-products/