Thursday, 16 June 2011

Basics: Bubble Hair

What is Bubble Hair?
Bubble hair is damage cause to the hair that results in bubble shaped formations in the hair shaft( Brown, 1986). This type of damage can lead to breakage and change the overall appearance of your hair.

Causes of Bubble Hair:
 A case study conducted by Elston et. al. (1992) found cases of bubble hair in a woman who had recently chemically treated her hair and in a woman who had used heat. These cases imply that bubble hair correlates with thermal and chemical exposure to the hair.

 Although it appears that bubble hair coincides with chemical reactions to the hair, I suspect, based on the fact that heated appliances are so readily available, that a majority of the cases of bubble hair are related to thermal damage.

Bubble hair can be caused by exposing the hair shaft to very high temperatures. Detwiler et al.(1994) found that bubbles within the hair formed after applying 300°C (572 ºF  ) of heat to dry hair. In another study,Gummer(1994) found that the heat required to cause bubble hair on wet hair is a much lower 125°C (257 ºF).

What causes the bubbles?
The moisture that is in your hair shaft, when heated enough, turns into steam. Remember, water becomes steam at 100 °C (212°F). Steam is less dense than water because its particles are farther apart. As steam forms inside the hair, the hair shaft is forced to expand. This in turn creates the bubbles.

Symptoms of Bubble Hair:
  • Brittle hair
  • Change in curl pattern
  • Hair no longer responsive to styling
  • Hair breakage
  • Splits along hair shaft
  • Limp, lifeless hair

Preventing Bubble Hair:
  • Limit the use of heated appliances. With a lot heated appliances boasting how much heat they can deliver, it's easy to cause heat damage if you are not careful. If you can find a way to style your hair without heat, try that instead. It may take a little bit more prep work, but your hair will thank you for it
  • Do not blow dry wet or damp hair. This may seem counter intuitive because most people use blow driers because their hair is wet. Damp hair, as discussed above, requires much less heat to be affected by bubble hair. If you do choose to blow dry, air dry your hair first.
  • Do not straighten damp or wet hair. I'm not sure why you would want to do this, but avoid doing this because of the same reasons as listed before. 

Fixing Bubble Hair:
  • Handle your hair gently.Bubble hair is damaged hair and needs to be treated with care. As you know, damaged hair is more fragile and therefore more prone to breaking.
  • Cut off the damaged hair. You don't have to do this all at once, but you do eventually have to remove the damaged hair. The hair shaft is not alive so it does not have any regenerative abilities. Once the hair shaft is damaged it cannot be repaired. So, get the thought of being able to "fix" the hair out of your head. The ONLY way to remove the damage is by cutting it off. 

  •  Gummer C. Bubble hair: a cosmetic abnormality caused by brief, focal heating of damp hair fibres. British Journal of Dermatology. (1994), 131, 901–903.
  • Detwiler SP, Carson JL, Woolsey JT, et al. Bubble hair.Case caused by an overheating hair dryer and reproducibility in normal hair with heat. Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. (1994), 30, 54–60.
  • Elston, D. M., Bergfeld, W. F., Whiting, D. A., Mcmahon, J. T., Dawson, D. M., Quint, K. L., & Muhlbauer, J. E. (1992). Bubble hair. Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, 19(5), 439-444. doi:10.1111/1600-0560.ep11850544
  • Brown, V. , Crounse , R.,  Abele, D. An unusual new hair shaft abnormality: "bubble hair".. An unusual new hair shaft abnormality: ‘‘Bubble hair’’. Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. (1986), 15, 1113–1117.

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