Tag Archive | Assessing Hair Breakage

Getting To Know Your Hair–Wet Testing


Wet Testing is a term i first heard of from Kelly of The Kitchen Cupboard. I’d never heard of it before then. I read about it again in ‘The Science of Black Hair’. You learn new things every day, don’t you? In this post i’ll outline why Wet Testing can be so helpful on your quest to balancing your hairs moisture and protein needs.

What Is Wet Testing And Why Should I Do It?

Wet Testing or Wet Stretch Testing (as it’s sometimes referred to) is an assessment that you can easily do to determine the health of your hair, particularly to ascertain your moisture/protein balance. When hair is wet it magnifies the hairs strength and stretchiness (or lack of it) so it gives a more ‘true’ state of the hair’s condition. Also, understanding the causes of breakage is so important in determining the right course of treatments. If your hair is breaking, wet testing is the best way to assess the cause of breakage to help you find the best solution for your needs.

How To Perform A Wet Test

Wet Testing is best done when you are washing your hair as the strands are fully saturated with water. You can also just wet a few strands of your hair to perform the test.

  • Once hair is fully saturated, take a few strands and brace your hair with one hand. I have personally found that 3 or 4 strands are better than one. The one often just breaks under the strain but reinforcing the strands with 3 or 4 allows the test to be performed with a more accurate result.
  • With the other hand gently tug at, and release the strands. Does it stretch when you gently pull it? Does it return to it’s normal length (and curl) when released? Does it break before it even stretches. Does it stretch and stretch and stay stretched when released?

You can also determine the strength and elasticity of your hair by just touching and feeling your hair whilst it’s wet, if you don’t want to tug at it. Take a mental note of how your hair feels whilst you are going through your process of washing, conditioning and detangling. Does your hair feel spongy, stretchy, or hard? Is it stretching when you comb it? How many broken hair’s are in the bath when you are finished? (broken hairs will not have the white bulb attached and are often quite short ‘bits’ of hair).

How Often Should You Wet Test?

Every time you wash or rinse your hair in the shower is a prime opportunity to asses the condition of your hair. Doing it often helps you begin to learn how your hair behaves on a regular basis. When your hair begins to behave differently, you will automatically pick up on it as you know what is ‘out of the ordinary’ for your hair.

Understanding The Results – What Does It Mean

  • If your wet hair hair feels strong, stretches easily and returns to normal without breaking, then your hair is BALANCED.
  • If your wet hair feels rough, hard, overly tangled and breaks before it stretches then your hair needs more MOISTURE.
  • If your wet hair feels weak, gummy, limp and it stretches and stretches before breaking, then your hair needs more PROTEIN.

Correcting Your Moisture/Protein Imbalance

Now you’ve assessed whether your hair is balanced, needs more moisture or more protein, you can determine what your next steps should be. Here are some suggestions. If your hair is:


  • Maintain the balance by continuing to do what you’re already doing.
  • Continue to use moisturising and strengthening treatments as your hair needs it
  • Wet test often to assess whether your hair continues to stay balanced or needs a moisture or protein boost

Moisture Deficient

  • Increase your moisture by doing a series of deep moisture conditioning treatments
  • Change your products to more moisturising ones as the products you are using may contain too much protein for your moisturising needs.
  • Moisturise and seal daily or even twice daily with water or water based moisturising products and oil or butter to seal.
  • Include an extra rinse, conditioner wash or deep condition (no shampoo) within the week to help restore your moisture balance
  • Wet test often to assess whether your hair is balancing out or still needs more moisturising treatments

Protein Deficient

  • Use a protein-rich shampoo, conditioner or reconstructor before deep conditioning.
  • Use a more protein-rich leave-in conditioner and/or moisturiser before sealing
  • Wet test after each protein product application to assess whether your hair is now balanced or needs more protein in your next step

Protein deficiencies are easily corrected in usually only one protein treatment where as moisture deficiencies may take several treatments to correct. Wet testing at each stage of your re-balancing treatments will allow you to assess whether your next step needs to be more moisture based or more protein based.

Maintaining Your Moisture/Protein Balance With Wet Testing

Using the wet testing method to assess your hair for moisture or protein imbalances requires some flexibility on your part. Wet testing at every stage allows you to determine your next immediate step.

For example-

  • Your schedule suggests a shampoo, deep condition, moisturising leave-in conditioner and seal.
  • You saturate your hair with water to begin your cleansing and decide to perform a wet test before you shampoo
  • You assess that your hair actually needs a bit of protein so you decide to include a protein conditioner after shampooing and before deep conditioning. Or you decide to add a few scoops of your protein treatment to your moisturising deep conditioner to help boost your protein in one easy deep conditioning session.
  • After completing your protein and moisturising deep conditioner, on your final rinse you decide to wet test again to determine whether your hair is now balanced. It’s still a little too stretchy for your liking.
  • You towel dry and decide to use your protein-rich leave-in conditioner and moisturiser before sealing to add a bit more protein to your hair as your final step.

This also goes for the opposite. You may be scheduled in for a protein treatment, but after wet testing you determine that your hair is actually already quite balanced. You may then just follow your regular washing routine instead or mix a touch of protein in with your moisturising conditioner to help maintain the balance.

As you can see, wet testing really allows you to, at each stage, give your hair exactly what it needs to stay balanced and healthy. You can wet test in between washes if you need to, by misting your hair with water and waiting a few minutes for it to absorb the water. You can then test to see if you should apply a normal moisturiser or a more protein-rich moisturiser before sealing. Generally though, you can determine after your washing session what your weekly focus will be.

Don’t forget you can dry assess during the week too. Just take a mental note of how your hair feels daily and after each product application. You will be able to determine which of your moisturising or strengthening products you will use next time.

In my next post i’ll be discussing pH and hair. I hope you’ve found this post useful!