To make the most out of your conditioner, and allow all the nutrients and goodies it contains to better penetrate your hair, you must open up the cuticles with warm water. How many times have you heard this nonsense? Me, too many to count.
Like all junk science tips, this too seems to make a lot of sense at first. Except that cuticles don’t really open. They can only get raised and that’s something you want to avoid. Let me explain.
The cuticle is the outermost part of the hair shaft. It protects the shaft from damage, keeping it healthy. When the cuticles are damaged, hair becomes dry and brittle.
Now, what really happens when you wash your hair is that the water swells your hair. 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.
Unfortunately, a raised cuticle doesn’t allow beneficial ingredients to penetrate inside the hair shaft. That’d be too easy. Whether a substance can get inside the shaft or not depends on its characteristics such as size and shape. Instead, a raised cuticle is a sign of damage, which is why, after washing our hair, we need to use conditioner.
A conditioner contains ingredients that can smooth down the cuticles again. Conditioners won’t repair the damage done (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.