Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Water and Hair Damage

Q: Is water damaging to your hair? I've heard some people say that moisture is always a good thing and that sometimes a little spritz of water is a good idea while some others say that water just further dries out your hair. Is it a good idea to stay away from water on the hair as often as possible?
A: This depends on the porosity of the hair. Chemically-treated hair and damaged hair can be more porous than healthy hair of the same texture. If the hair is already damaged and/or overly porous, then spritzing with water can make the hair look better for a moment as the water will absorb quickly and hydrate the hair shaft, but will simply be evaporated away just as fast as the hair dries out again.
Moisture can only be retained by the hair if the cuticle layer (which is usually open wide in porous hair) is closed and therefore locks in the moisture. Many conditioners use acidic formulas to help close the cuticle layer of the hair shaft.
Water can be damaged by prolonged exposure to water such as by spending long periods of time swimming, since even pH neutral water is more alkaline than hair and skin. (Tap water is often considerably more alkaline than pH neutral.) For an idea of what prolonged exposure to water can do to the hair just take a look at what a long soak in water does to the skin (making it swell and get pruny).
Of course, most moisturizing products and styling products contain a large percentage of water, so the hair is exposed to water a lot more than most people realize. Because of this, the idea of staying away from water on the hair as much as possible is not feasible, but unless you spend a lot of time in the water, then you are generally okay with the amount of exposure your hair has with water.
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