Hair 101: learn some beauty school basics

Hair is a filamentous biomaterial (made of long protein chains, interacts with biological systems), which grows from follicles found in the dermis (middle layer) of the skin. It is mainly made up of keratin, which is a fibrous structural protein.

The entire human body, except the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, is covered with hair-producing follicles.

Each strand of hair is made up of three layers: the cuticle, the medulla, and the cortex.

The cuticle is the outermost layer. It is made up of tough, tile-like cells that overlap each other. It is made up of dead cells that have turned into scales. Its purpose is to protect the inner layers and give the hair strength. The shape of the cuticle determines how healthy your hair is. Healthy, shiny hair has a smooth cuticle. In damaged hair, the scales rise. You can soften the cuticle using mild heat (like a towel wrapped around your head after getting out of the shower) or acid-based hair products (which is why many hair products contain citric acid, etc.) alkaline they do it completely. on the contrary, and they lift the cuticle.

The next layer, in the middle, is the cortex, which makes up most of the hair. Melanin, which are color pigments, are found here in the cortex. They determine the color of the hair fiber, based on how many there are and what type they are. The shape of the hair follicle determines the shape of the cortex, which therefore determines whether the hair is straight, wavy, or curly. The bark also retains water and is packed with keratin protein. The coloring, perming / straightening or other styling process takes place in the cortex. The innermost layer is called the medulla, although some people (with fine hair) do not have a medulla. Its purpose is still unknown.

Hair color is generally graded with numbers from 1 to 10. Level 1 is generally black, while Level 10 is generally blonde.

All natural hair colors combine percentages of the three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. The two main chemicals found in permanent hair color are hydrogen peroxide and ammonia (this is why the color is harmful to hair). Ammonia works by separating the scales from the cuticle. Peroxide helps to oxidize pigments. When hair color penetrates the cortex, it creates new pigment molecules, which are too large to break out of the cortex. That is why it is difficult to remove the color once you put it on.

Bleaching your hair is a similar process. The peroxide softens and lifts the cuticle and then the bleach (lightener) disperses the color molecules found in the bark.

There are different levels of peroxide. 5V and 10V (V = volume) are tank only. You would use them to deposit a darker color (like black) and they work by lifting the cuticle just a little bit. 20V raises up to 2 levels and deposits color. This is the most commonly used peroxide. 30V elevators up to 3 levels and 40V elevators up to 4 levels. You won’t see 40V being used frequently. It is usually only used with bleach and high-effect blondes, but it is very damaging to the hair and can burn the scalp if used incorrectly.

Now, let’s go back to the primary colors …

The three primary colors, as I said before, are red, blue, and yellow. The three secondary colors are orange (red + yellow), green (blue + yellow), and purple (blue + red). Look at the way the color wheel is set up as it is done this way on purpose. The color directly opposite a color is its complementary color. Complementary colors can intensify or neutralize each other. For example, when you bleach your hair, it usually ends with a pale yellow hue. To remove yellow, you tone your hair with a violet-based toner to turn it platinum blonde. This is why many “blonde” shampoos are purple. If your hair is orange, you should tone it with a blue-based tonic (ash).

Toners are basically pigments to tone your hair after bleaching it. I highly recommend toning your hair after bleaching it, because it looks more finished. There are so many different varieties of toners. You can tone ash blonde, platinum blonde, neutral, strawberry blonde hair, etc.

Let’s say your hair is bleached but you decide you want to dye it brown again. First you have to re-pigment the hair. If you don’t, the color will look really ashy / grayish and washed out. To re-pigment (fill in) your hair, you should use reddish / gold colors that are one level lighter than your desired color. I used the Paul Mitchell color and there are different formulas you can use depending on your target level. For PM, I would mix equal parts of the formula with 10V developer and apply to damp hair. Process for 10 minutes then apply the target color over the repigmentation formula (unless the target formula is cold / neutral, you need to clean the repigmentation formula). Process everything for an additional 35 minutes.

I’ll go into the different types of colors below – permanent colors can lift hair up to 3 levels, in general, and should last quite a long time. The lifts lift hair approximately 4 levels. Demi-permanent colors last around 4-6 weeks and eventually fade, leaving no roots. Temporary colors generally cover the hair shaft, without penetrating the cortex, so they do not need developer. If done right, these should last even a few weeks. Old ladies use color rinse a lot, which is a temporary color that will just lighten the next time they wash their hair.

Something very important to know about color that most people don’t know is that


This basically means that if your hair is dark brown and you want to lift it to a light brown, you have to bleach it before it takes on the color you want. I hear clients talking about this at work ALL THE TIME. They are confused because they tried to dye their hair lighter and it got darker. Now consider everything I have taught you so far. If your hair already has dark color molecules in the cortex and you put another color on top of it, all you are doing is depositing more color molecules in your cortex, hence the reason why it is darker. The color will lift virgin hair, but not hair that is already colored.

Now I will tell you how perms and straighteners work. You should always rinse before getting a perm, as this will help remove build-up and medication from your hair. While the hair is wet, roll it into rollers (the same width as the resulting curl). Next, apply the perm solution to each perm stick and allow it to process. The permanent solution is generally made of ammonium thioglycolate. The solution breaks the disulfide bonds in your hair (which are the proteins that give your hair its shape). After you’ve processed, you rinse off the perm solution and then apply the neutralizer. The neutralizer rebuilds the disulfide bonds into the new permanent bar shape. Ready! Now you have curly hair! Straighteners often do the same thing, except they leave your hair straight instead of curly.

Well, I hope you have learned something new and interesting about hair! There are so many other cool things to learn and I’ll write about them a day later!

Have you been to beauty school? I always love hearing new things, so if you want to add something to this article, please comment.

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