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Haircare vs Skincare, are they the same?

The answer is a big NO!

We often treat skin and hair in the same way by using the same ingredients or products in both. For e.g. using same soap to wash body and hair or using the same oil on skin and hair. While some ingredients may be suitable for both skin and hair the context in which those ingredients are introduced to skin or hair will determine if the benefits of those ingredients can be reaped or not.

To understand how differently we need to care for skin and hair, we first need to understand the different between these 2 parts of our body.

Firstly, Skin is an organ that is ALIVE while hair is DEAD.

The seven layers of skin are constantly rising up, changing on a cellular level, and eventually flaking off, to be replaced by new cells. In addition to all of its protective and sensory functions, the skin also helps to prevent trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). Therefore skincare products, need nourish a living organ, the largest organ in our bodies!

Hair, however, is not alive. The part we actually see, called the hair shaft, is made of dead keratinised cells, This means that hair does not have the same regenerating properties as skin does. The only part of the hair that is alive are the follicles which are in our scalp that are responsible for the growth of our hair.

Living skin can heal; we heal tiny cuts and scrapes all the time, and can even increase skin elasticity and health by choosing ingredients and products that boost that ability in our skin. But if hair gets damaged, it can’t heal the way skin does. It can’t return to previous state. This is the reason why it’s crucial to understand how to prevent damage and how to nourish the hair.

The hair has no lipid matrix, no stratum corneum, and ingredients which might be excellent for nourishing skin won’t have the same effect on the keratin of the hair.

Secondly pH balance

pH works on a level of 1-14: 1 being most acidic and 14 being most alkaline, with 7 being neutral i.e. water. The natural pH of our skin is 5.5 and our hair strands are naturally at 3.7 — so although both of them are on the acidic side, skincare product at a ph of 5.5 will be too harsh on the hair shaft. If hair is treated with an alkaline product, it will leave the cuticle cells open and prone to damage. Hair with an imbalanced pH will also be a lot more prone to breaking and tangling. The way the skin and hair keeps the bad stuff at bay is through a thin, protective layer it has called the acid mantle. This acid mantle is made up of sebum which is an oily substance that keeps both your skin and hair moisturized and healthy. The goal of ‘pH balancing’ is using products that keep your hair and skin close to its natural pH level and protect its acid mantle.

Conclusively thus there are 2 aspects to haircare, caring for the scalp (living tissue) and caring for the mane (dead tissue).

How do we do that? More on that coming soon.

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