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What Is a Hair Cuticle | Your Hair’s Protective Layer

August 18, 2021

1 Min read

To properly understand the hair’s cuticle, it can be helpful to understand other aspects of hair. What is hair, exactly? Let’s start with the hair follicle, a small, sac-like opening in your skin where each hair on your body develops. 

A cluster of unique cells at the bottom of each follicle reproduces to generate new hair cells. These newly generated cells become a part of the hair’s root, causing the hair to grow longer.

The hair’s outermost layer, the cuticle, is made up of overlapping shingles, also known as scale cells. The cuticle is part of what makes up the hair shaft. These cells function defensively to protect the inner structure of the hair. By doing so, these cells help to regulate the water content of the hair fiber.

Looking deeper into your hair’s anatomy

Let’s look at the science behind each facet of your hair. Your hair’s structure and composition can go hand in hand with your hair’s health. Hair’s composition can mean texture, body, density, shape, or condition. As we said, the cuticle makes up part of the outer hair shaft. 

You may be wondering about the other layers of the hair strand. Three main layers compose your hair shafts. Here is more detail about each aspect.

  • The cuticle: the protective layer surrounding your hair
  • The cortex: the inner layer of the hair shaft that gives a hair fiber its strength, color, and texture
  • The medulla: the deepest layer of your hair, found exclusively in thicker hair types


Each layer of your hair serves a particular purpose. As the cuticle surrounds the strands, it protects the innermost parts of your hair. This is why it is so fundamental to continue protecting this external layer of your hair. Your hair is complex and can show different signs of cuticle damage over time.

What can damage your hair’s cuticle?

Harsh chemicals, heat, or friction can damage your hair. Once your hair has damage, it’s much easier for the cuticles to be compromised. Since the cuticle functions as the protective layer, it should be important to keep this area of your hair protected at all costs.

The hair cuticle can be damaged by the overuse of heat from hot tools such as flat irons and curling irons. In addition, chemical treatments such as perms and texturizers can be just as damaging. The cuticle can also be harmed by environmental factors such as the sun and wind. All of these things combined can leave your hair cuticle at its weakest. 

Some of these factors are out of your control, and that’s why we formulate products to meet your hair wherever you are. Our free online consultation covers all the bases. We will ask you about your environment, how often you utilize hot tools and chemical treatments, and recommend to you the most ideal, natural ingredients for your everyday life.

Scalp health is cuticle health

A buildup of products on your hair can also contribute to cuticle damage. Using a detoxifying or deep cleansing shampoo can help clarify your strands and ultimately help to seal your hair’s cuticles. If the cuticles have damage, they will be raised. The goal is to use products that help smooth and seal the cuticle.

To help detox your roots, we recommend trying our custom pre-shampoo scalp mask. Whether you need soothing repair or a mild detox, this intense pre-wash treatment helps restore balance to your scalp. This mask can help cleanse your hair even before you shampoo, and your hair cuticle will be more receptive to the shampoo after this mask.

Paying close attention to the health of your scalp can benefit your hair’s cuticle.

How the hair cuticle protects your hair

Can you feel the hair cuticle, since it is on the outer layer? Yes, yes you can. 

Start by pinching a single long hair starting at the root between your fingertips to feel the cuticle. Feel the slickness and smoothness of the hair between your fingers. You’re moving your fingers in the same direction as the cuticle layers as you go from root to tip. 

Begin at the hair’s tip this time. The hair may feel tougher in this direction, and it may squeak as it passes between your fingers. You can feel and hear the texture of the cuticle layers. This is an easy way to explore the health of your hair’s cuticle.

This outside barrier could be more rigid (if it is suffering from damage), or more flat (if it is healthy and well maintained). If the hair cuticle is healthier, it can repel more than an unhealthy hair cuticle. Hair can become compromised if the cuticle is in bad shape.

The cuticle can play a part in helping hair growth because it is a protective barrier for your hair. It can also help mitigate damage from outside threats such as environmental damage, hot tools, or chemical processing.

How to care for your hair cuticle

Your hair can tremendously benefit from moisture and oil. Hair creams or hair oils are products that can help seal the cuticle and protect the deeper layers of hair from damage. While the cuticle protects your hair, these products help protect your hair cuticle. 

There are a few key differences between leave-in conditioners and hair oils. While both bring moisture and hydration to hair, they both serve a unique purpose. 

Our leave-in conditioner is a water-based solution that nourishes strands without weighing them down and can help to eliminate frizz and flyaways. Our custom hair oil preserves strands and smooths away frizz, whether used as a treatment before washing or as a styling finish. 

These products are not exclusive to certain hair types. They’re made-to-measure for each individual and have unique benefits for each hair type. They have a custom combination of active ingredients to suit your hair objectives and offer the correct quantity of moisture for your needs and goals.

If you are interested in giving your hair more moisture and replenishing each strand, check out our custom pre-shampoo hair mask. Why should you mask before you shampoo? Before you wash, your hair’s cuticle is more responsive to our soothing mask. It also aids your shampoo in providing a softer, irritation-free clean. 

If your cuticles have been damaged, these products can work to restore those strands and help to keep your hair more moisturized, and less brittle.

Special tips for damaged cuticles

Since your hair cuticle can be damaged by heat, friction, or harsh chemicals, it is wise to try to refrain from heat styling or using harsh chemicals on your hair. Another way to protect your hair cuticle is to use silk or satin products, such as satin scarves while you sleep or a silk or satin pillowcase. 

That’s because cotton can be too abrasive for your hair while you sleep, and there’s the chance for damage to happen without you even knowing. Trying to limit your hair’s exposure to friction can significantly help your hair’s cuticle. You can care for your hair, even while you rest. 

Lastly, if you want to see your hair thrive, pay attention to the products that you are using. Some products promise to protect your hair but can be full of harsh and disruptive chemicals. This is just one of the reasons why we value pure and clean ingredients.

Choose clean products

We know your hair deserves the best, and so we strive to create products that support your hair in the most gentle way possible. Our formulas are always improving, and we are here to protect your hair’s most protective layer. 

Our in-house chemists are constantly researching, sourcing, and combining novel active ingredients. Your unique formulas can be updated in real-time when new technologies introduce themselves, ensuring that each order is better than the previous.

Our ingredients are constantly moving forward, and we work to create trustworthy and sustainable products just for you. Take a more in-depth look at our expansive, growing list of ingredients and see why more people trust our products every day.

Prose products, protecting your hair

At Prose, we formulate products to meet your personal hair needs. The cuticle works hard to protect your hair, and we design products that make it easier to care for your cuticle. With natural ingredients that have been researched in-depth, we work non-stop to find the best hair care for you. 

Based on the findings of your online consultation, all Prose personalized hair care products will be bottled uniquely. We obtain a full picture of everything that might affect your scalp and hair so that we can tailor a formula specifically for you. 

Hair nourishment and protection are important to us, but so are all the other aspects of your hair. We are honored to learn more about your hair type, hair health, and goals.

Start your consultation today. We can help you continue to look out for your hair and protect each strand. Supporting your hair has never been this easy. We’ll be looking after your hair every step of the way.


Think of us as your partner in haircare. Start with our innovative consultation.



The Prose Staff is here to share the best hair tips and tricks to help you achieve all your hair goals with custom hair care, breakthrough innovation and more

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