Friday, June 18, 2021

What I learned from 5+ years of hair analysis

 I did hair physical analysis for 5 years, handling somewhere around 500 analyses. It mirrored my work with plants, soils and microscopy - I know that sounds strange, but there are similar physical and chemical things going on. I may have waded too deeply into the weeds for some folks, but I tried to provide a useful result. I want to share some useful things I learned with you. One at a time, blogging can be time-intensive, so I'm easing back in, in small "bites." Meaning: This post will have sequels. 

What I learned that you can use

1) Every person's hair is different. This isn't some trite little feel-good saying. It's reality. As a scientist, I could be accused of tending to see infinite variation vs. being one of those people who wants to force everything into a neat little box with a label on it. But I appreciate diversity in nature and find usefulness in seeing it.

One day I had two hair samples with very similar measurements and yet they were very different in ways that measurement of things like width, elasticity etc. simply don't account for. That day was the perfect example of how there are always aspects of a system we're not measuring that can be very important - but they're harder to grasp. They're harder to describe. They're the sum of multiple physical properties.

Human hair is a protein-based substance. Those proteins are made from a "recipe" that is stored in your DNA. Your unique DNA. Even identical twins don't have exactly the same DNA, thanks to edits made to our genetic code (DNA) as we go through life. 

When you consider your hair, think of it like your personality. Your personality it not the same as somebody else's. It may be similar, but it's not the same. You can pick up useful things from other people, but you always need to translate that into something that works for your hair. And your budget, your climate, your lifestyle, etc. 

Take home message: Don't judge your hair. Don't compare it to others (except to the extent that might be useful). If something works for somebody else, and not for you, you might not be doing something wrong. It may not be right for your hair. Don't try to force your hair into a "box" it doesn't belong in. Just because somebody says "this works for curly hair" or "this is perfect for X or Y hairstyle," doesn't mean it will work for everybody. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on products or time styling your hair - or if you enjoy trying new things and find hairstyling enjoyable - own it and proceed with that in mind. I always appreciated when people took the time to tell me these things about themselves.

I'm not suggesting we "love our unique hair" because I think that's a pretty big ask for many of us. I'm recommending we pay attention to and have empathy for not only our hair, but our budgets, and our lifestyle. If we're looking to videos, vloggers, Instagram, for advice - take those things into consideration too. Consider role models who match our situation and our goals rather than or in addition to those who already have our ideal hair. Because that "ideal hair" is part genetics, part climate, tap water, etc. and only part styling technique and products. 


  1. Thank you for sharing all your experience!
    This blog has a lot of great information!