Skip to Content


Hair Cuticle – What is it and do I need to care about it?

Close up image of the back of a woman's head as she twists her hair into a ponytail

Whilst our hair is made up of 3 main layers – the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla – this article focuses on the cuticle and the importance of a tailor-made haircare routine. After all, the cuticle is your hair's outer protective layer – without a healthy and balanced cuticle, hair quickly becomes damaged, which unfortunately affects its appearance. So the answer is...

Yes, you do need to care about your hair cuticle!

What exactly is the purpose of a hair cuticle?

The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair, and its role is to protect the innermost layers of the hair shaft. It is made from keratinised, flat cells that overlap in a downward direction from root-to-tip, comparable to a fir cone. This multi-layered structure contains between 6-10 layers of overlapping cells.

Did you know that the cuticle is a good indicator of inner hair strength?

Healthy hair has a smooth, flat cuticle that is translucent and reflects light – making hair feel smooth and look shiny. If the cuticle is damaged – or in some cases even partially missing – the hair feels rough and becomes vulnerable to mechanical or chemical damage.

Healthy cuticles are the result of lipid layers on the outer cuticle that make each hair strand water repellent and feel smooth. This lipid layer consists of chains of 21 hydrocarbons and fatty acids, that are chemically bound to an underlying protein matrix.

A woman with long brown hair wearing a pink shirt

What causes damage to the hair's cuticle?

When hair is damaged some of the main causes can be:

  1. Environmental damage is caused by external factors such as urban pollution. This leads to hair feeling rough, it also tangles easily.
  2. Physical damage can be caused by combing, brushing and your beloved hot styling tools (we know, we can't live without them either!). However, they can cause your hair to be less manageable as it's more prone to frizz and a dull appearance.
  3. Chemical damage can be caused by hair colouring, bleaching, perming & straightening. This can cause irregularities on the cuticle and alter the inner hair structure, which can result in a stiff and sensitive hair fibre that's prone to breakage.

The good news? You don't need to move to the countryside, stop styling your hair or say goodbye to your favourite hair colour. The right haircare regime and some preventative measures can help to avoid these (worst case) scenarios!

So, how can I take care of my hair cuticle?

We're glad you asked! Consider taking steps to reduce hair damage and take time to really pamper and nurture the cuticle layer. We know this sounds super 'sciency', but the main take away is that the cuticle is a protector of virgin hair and a key consideration in your haircare routine; basically, the more your hair is damaged or weakened, the less of the protective lipid layer is left.

Which is why it's super beneficial to invest in a personalised haircare regime, based on clear facts about your own hair.

No more trial & error. It's time to discover haircare that's exactly right for you!

Your lifestyle, genetics and the treatments you've had all play a part in determining the health of your hair. You're completely unique – and by following a haircare routine that's made for your individual hair goals and needs you're on the right path already.

A blonde woman opening a box of SalonLab&Me products whilst sitting next to a window
SalonLab&Me Shampoo, Conditioner and Colour Mask displayed on a bathroom shelf next to some jewellery and cosmetics

In the context of repairing the cuticle, we've got good news! Our SalonLab&Me haircare ranges use our Triple Bonding Technology – which is based on 10 years of research to strengthen the hair structure from within. This advanced Bonding Technology features a trivalent-ion that builds new bonds through the creation of a 3-dimensional network inside the hair fibre, helping to restore virgin hair quality.

A diagram of the hair fibre showing the Cuticle, Medulla and Cortex
A black and white image of hair before that is dull, and hair after that is shiny

In combination with C21 Technology, a highly effective conditioning agent that works on the hair's surface by using the biomimetic principle of lipid replenishment, your tailor-made range of SalonLab&Me products work to bring the cuticle closer to natural perfection for improved shine, manageability and natural movement.

It's safe to say, your cuticles are in good hands with SalonLab&Me!