The Best Way to Open a Hair Cuticle

A hair dryer can help to open a hair cuticle.

Photo: Medioimages/Photodisc/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Love it when your hair is super smooth and shiny? Who doesn't? When your hair is smooth and shiny, your hair cuticle is closed. Although you probably think you always want your hair cuticle to be closed, there are times when your hair cuticle must be open. It could be because you are getting your hair colored, receiving a deep conditioning treatment or when you are removing product buildup. There are different ways to open a hair cuticle.

Chelating Shampoos

Chelating or deep cleansing shampoos are good for more than just removing dirt, grime and product buildup. They also are a gentle way to open a hair cuticle. Shampoos designed to deep cleanse your hair are known to fade color. Chelating shampoos are gentle and are often used before perm and straightening services.

Bring on the Heat

Heat is always helpful when opening a hair cuticle. Heat is your best bet when you get a deep conditioner or other type of treatment. You can use hot water to open the cuticle or you can apply a deep conditioner, pop on a plastic shower cap and sit under a hot dryer for several minutes. No matter what heat method you use, you’ll need to allow your hair to cool down so that the cuticle can close.

Raise the pH Level

You can raise the pH level to open a hair cuticle. This way to open a hair cuticle is often used when using permanent hair color. Don't worry -- you won't have to change the pH manually. Some hair color products use ammonia to quickly raise the pH of the hair. Keep in mind that ammonia causes considerable damage to hair. A more gentle way to raise the pH level is to use ethanolamine, an ammonia alternative, notes the Tints of Nature website.

Ways to Close the Cuticle

You cannot leave the hair cuticle open. After all, you want your hair to return to the shine that makes it a mane attraction. Cool or cold water helps to close a hair cuticle that has been opened by heat. A conditioner can also help close the cuticle because it will bring the pH level of your hair back to normal.

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