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What Is a Hair Cuticle and Why You Need to Seal It

Your hair’s cuticle is more important than you think.

October 20, 2023

Hair care
is more than just washing and moisturizing your hair. In fact, caring for your hair goes beyond what meets the eye; it starts in the hair’s cuticle and all that it encompasses. The hair cuticle is the outermost layer of hair that protects the hair shaft (the inner part of the hair). If your hair cuticle is open or compromised, your hair is going to look frizzy, damaged and dry. Keep reading as we share more about what a hair cuticle is, how to best care for it, and the top drugstore hair products for keeping your hair (and hair cuticle) looking and feeling its best. 

What Are the Different Parts of the Hair?

The hair shaft is comprised of three layers: the deepest layer called the medulla, the middle layer that provides color, texture and strength called the cortex, and the outermost layer that protects everything, the cuticle. Healthy hair has a pH of 4.5-5.5, which is acidic on the pH scale. When the number increases, and it reaches an alkaline pH, damage occurs. For example, the pH of hair comes more alkaline after bleaching and coloring it.  


What Are Hair Cuticles?

In order to care for the hair cuticle, it’s important to understand what it is first. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the hair cuticle is the outermost part of the hair shaft. It’s comprised of overlapping cells that resemble fish scales. It’s there to protect the inner layers of your hair (like the follicle) from damage and provides shine. Ultimately, when the hair cuticle is healthy and strong, the hair looks and feels healthy. 

How Can You Care for Hair Cuticles? 

Hair cuticles are normally closed, but things like chemicals in hair dye, hot water, too much moisture, wind and cold weather can sometimes cause the hair cuticles to open up, making hair more vulnerable to damage like breakage and frizz. The health of the hair cuticle also dictates the texture of hair and how well it retains moisture, so if your cuticle is unhealthy or left open, hair might become dry and hard to manage. 

The best way to seal the hair cuticle is to use pH balancing hair products. Bleach and hair color alter the pH of your hair, which is why constant hair color sessions can severely damage your hair. Not only does pH balancing hair care bring the hair back to it’s normal, acidic level (4.5-5.5), but it simultaneously seals the cuticle, which helps the hair to look smoother, de-frizzed and shinier. 


How to Seal Your Hair’s Cuticle

The L’Oréal Paris EverPure Glossing System consists of a sulfate-free shampoo, conditioner and an in-shower treatment, each of which helps to balance the pH of hair and promote shine. Here’s how to use the trio correctly. 

Step 1. Start With a pH Balancing Shampoo 

Start your hair cuticle sealing routine with L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Glossing Shampoo. The argan oil-infused shampoo helps seal the cuticle by balancing out the pH level of your hair — expect your damaged, color-treated strands to look shiny, glossy and healthy. 


Step 2. Apply an In-Shower Glossing Treatment

Because chemical processes like coloring and dyeing can alter hair’s ideal pH range (4.5-5.5) and affect the hair cuticle, use a glossing treatment, like L’Oréal Paris EverPure Glossing In-Shower Acidic Glaze, to reverse any damage. Infused with nourishing argan oil, this caring spray includes an anti-fade filter to keep your color shiny and vibrant.

Two to three times a week after shampooing and before conditioning, spray the glaze evenly throughout clean hair and wait one to three minutes (don’t rinse it out) before layering on conditioner. 

Step 3. Apply a pH Balancing Conditioner 

To get the best results, apply L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Glossing Conditioner after shampooing and after using the EverPure Glossing In-Shower Acidic Glaze.


Step 4. Protect Your Strands

Take your regimen a step further and spray the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free 21-in-1 Color Caring Spray, Leave In onto your freshly-cleansed strands. The multi-benefit leave-in treatment preserves color vibrancy, detangles, manages frizz and refreshes hair.

If you plan on using hot tools, cap your routine with L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, a lightweight cream heat protectant that prevents further damage during styling and helps achieve the perfect blowout. 

Next: How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?


Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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