“Open the cuticles with warm water before you apply conditioner. It’ll help it better penetrate your hair and make it stronger.”
If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this advice, I’d be rich… Problem is, it doesn’t work! Let me explain…
You Don’t Want To Open Hair Cuticles!
Like all junk science tips, this too seems to make a lot of sense at first. Except that cuticles don’t really open. You can only raise them – and that’s something you want to avoid.
Here’s why: the cuticle is the outermost part of the hair shaft, the layer that protects it from damage. When the cuticles are damaged, hair becomes dry and brittle.
Every time you wash your hair, the water makes the shaft swell. This raises the cuticle, damaging it. The same happens when you comb your hair too harshly, rub it too vigorously or have some relaxing or bleaching treatments done.
Raised Cuticles Don’t Make For Better Conditining
To add insult to injury, a raised cuticle doesn’t allow beneficial ingredients to penetrate inside the hair shaft. That’d be too easy.
Whether an ingredient can get inside the shaft or not depends on its size and shape. If it’s too big, for example, it stays on the surface of your hair.
A raised cuticle is just a sign of damage. That’s why, after washing your hair, you need to use conditioner to help the cuticles get back in their place.
A conditioner contains ingredients that can smooth down the cuticles again. They won’t repair the damage down (hair is dead and, once it is damaged, it is damaged for good), but, with its smoothing action, it can help protect hair, make it feel soft and look healthy and shiny.
So, there you go. Next time someone tells you to “open” your hair cuticles, tell them no, thanks. It just doesn’t do hair any good.