Healthy, good-looking hair is not just a matter of luck. Even “uncooperative” hair can shine if given the proper care-protection from sun, wind, rough handling, and the wrong hair products.
Protect your hair against the sun and wind by wearing a hat or scarf whenever you go outdoors. Not only can the sunburn your scalp but if your hair has been treated with rinses or dyes, the sun can change its color. Ingredients added to hair products to block ultraviolet rays provide some protection, but not enough.
Normal hair cuticle
Cuticle damaged by
Cuticle seriously damaged by
back–combing and bleaching
After shampooing, do not rub your head with a towel. Hair is at its most vulnerable when wet, and rubbing can damage it. Instead, blot the excess moisture with a towel. Then gently comb it out, using a wide-toothed comb (not a brush). Rubber or tortoiseshell combs are better than plastic or metal.
Blow-dryers, hot rollers, and curling irons can burn and dry out hair. Try to choose a hairstyle that can be air-dried.
If you prefer a blow-dryer, don’t use it when your hair is sopping wet: you will need too much heat, which will create split ends. Don’t use a blow dryer when the hair has completely dried, either, as this can also cause damage. The best heat settings are low and medium.
Brushing hair when it’s dry can impart a healthy-looking fullness. It will also distribute the oils from the scalp along the shafts to the ends of your hair. Natural-bristle brushes are recommended. To keep from harming hair cuticles, don’t brush too vigorously. Use only 15 to 20 strokes; more can be damaging.
To tame static electricity, apply a drop of hand cream to your palms, rub well, and run your hands over your dry hair. You can also lightly rub your hair with a fabric-softening sheet, or put hair spray on your hairbrush before brushing gently.
If you’re thinking of getting a permanent, keep in mind that this process can cause both structural damage to the hair (though this is only temporary) and allergic dermatitis of the scalp, forehead, and neck.
Eat a well-balanced diet so that your hair will get the protein, vitamins, and minerals it needs to stay healthy.
After swimming in the ocean, rinse your hair in fresh water to remove saltwater.
Rinse, too, after swimming in a pool to remove the chlorine. If chlorine turns blond hair green, rinse your hair with a mixture of four crushed aspirins and one to two ounces of water; leave on your hair for 10 minutes.
A SHAMPOO SAMPLER
Rotate several brands of shampoo. After two or three washes with conditioning shampoos, or rinsing with a separate conditioner, switch to a plain cleansing shampoo.
Conditioning shampoos have ingredients to provide shine, body, and manageability or to improve the look of damaged hair. Most shampoos contain about 15 ingredients; those that also conditions may have as many as 25.
If you use a conditioning shampoo, you don’t need a separate conditioner. Rinse your hair well for at least 60 seconds-after washing to remove any residue.
The best shampoos are those with a neutral or acidic pH. They’ll shrink the cuticle (the hair shaft’s outer layer), smoothing it and thus making the hair shaft stronger and shinier. A pH of seven is neutral, which means the shampoo is fine for normal or oily hair. Look for a lower (acidic) pH for damaged, weathered, or chemically treated hair.
Many shampoos are alkaline, with a pH above seven. These products can swell and weaken the shaft, leaving even normal hair looking dull.
If a shampoo label doesn’t list the pH, you can test the product yourself with a sensitive litmus paper (available at many drugstores).
Hair often benefits from rest; try washing every two or three days instead of daily. However, if you do prefer daily washing, use a gentle- nonfragrant, nonmedicated shampoo.
Much of the need for daily shampooing comes from the overuse of conditioners and styling products, which weigh down and flatten the hair as well as attract dirt and oil. Try to style your hair with just one or two products.
If your hair is fine-textured and oily, condition it before rather than after) shampooing
to give it more body.
Dilute your shampoo and conditioner by pouring half into empty bottles and topping both bottles with water. Diluted products work just as effectively and cut down on residue buildup.
You probably need a conditioner, at least occasionally, to promote shine and health, even if your hair is in good shape.
There are three major types of conditioners:
Creme rinses help manage tangles. Keep in mind, however, that creme rinses can make oily hair limp, and some are alkaline and thus drying. To avoid a sticky film on the hair, rinse for a full two minutes.
Instant conditioners should be left in for one to two minutes after shampooing and then rinsed out. They flatten the cuticle and coat the hair shaft, creating shine and volume.
Deep conditioners are thick emulsions that should be left in the hair for 30 minutes. They restore moisture and protect the hair shaft, making damaged hair less brittle and frayed. As a
preventive measure, use a deep conditioner a few days before you color or perm your hair. Remember that deep conditioners tend to flatten normal hair and to make oily hair limp and dull.
When conditioning your hair, place most of the product on the bottom half of your hair,
especially the ends. This is the oldest hair; it’s had the most abuse and needs the most enhancement.
Though conditioners can help damaged hair look better, they can’t rejoin split ends.
The only way to get rid of split ends is to cut them off.
Before taking a sauna or steam bath, put conditioner on your hair: the heat will help it penetrate.
PRODUCTS FOR HARD TO MANAGE HAIR
For thin or thinning hair, use protein shampoo and conditioner, as well as bodybuilding products containing resin, plastic, or balsam.
For broken hair, usually associated with bleaching and permanents, try a low-pH shampoo, a protein conditioner, and a warm-oil treatment.
For naturally dry hair, use a rich emollient shampoo with film-forming agents, such as protein and balsam. Then apply a creme rinse. If you use Gels or mousses, buy those that are alcohol-free.
For processed dry hair, you need a shampoo rich in pro- rein, oil, and moisturizers, and with a low pH. Styling products should have hydrolyzed protein, balsam, and other film-forming agents.
To clean hairbrushes, mix 2 tablespoons baking soda and 2 tablespoons colorless mouthwash in enough water to cover bristles (don’t submerge wooden handles). Soak for 15 minutes, scrub with an old toothbrush or nailbrush, and rinse.
A lightly flaking scalp could be caused by residue from shampoo or another hair product. To eliminate this possibility, rinse after shampooing three times as long as usual and skip conditioners, setting lotions, mousses, gels, and sprays for two weeks. If your scalp is still flaky, you probably have dandruff, which occurs when the normal process of shedding skin speeds up.
Most dandruff is caused by too much oil, not too little. Before using an antidandruff shampoo, clean your scalp with 1 part clear mouthwash or antiseptic to 4 parts water. Part your hair in one-inch sections and apply the mixture with a saturated cotton ball. Cover your hair with a shower cap, leave it on for an hour Cor overnight), then shampoo.
Another quick fix: Saturate a cotton ball with witch hazel and apply to your scalp at half-
inch intervals. The best time to do this is after you wash your hair, while it is still wet.
Shampoo frequently. Leave the shampoo on five minutes, then rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving a residue; repeat. Medical ed shampoos are sometimes more effective than others, but they should be used less often to avoid skin irritation. The best contain pyrithione zinc, sulfur, salicylic acid, or resorcinol. Tar shampoos, while strongest, may discolor hair or irritate the scalp. Your scalp can become resistant to one brand, so you should alternate. The strongest shampoos are available only by prescription.
Dandruff shampoos are not very gentle, so use sparingly if your hair is permed or colored.
If your “dandruff” occurs only in winter, it may be the result of dryness caused by central heating. Use a humidifier or turn the thermostat down low at night.
Lemon juice, if used regularly as a rinse, helps to prevent dandruff.
Fresh infusions of certain herbs can be excellent for the hair. Clover blossom, cornflower, chamomile (for blonds), and orange pekoe or Red Zinger tea (for redheads)
can brighten and soften. Fennel, which is slightly antiseptic, and nettle are good for dandruff. For brunettes, rosemary is an old standard for shine. To make an herbal
1. Steep 1 tablespoon of herbs in 8 ounces of boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain and cool.
2. Pour onto the hair and work into the scalp; leave on for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Rinse out with lukewarm water for a full minute.
Streaking, frosting, and hair painting are relatively trauma-free. The alkaline chemicals of coloring products don’t touch your scalp, and not all your hair is subjected to the processing.
Hair dyes, on the other hand, are not without hazards. Coal-tar dyes, the most common type of dyes, cause severe skin allergies in some people, while lead is an ingredient of “progressive” hair dyes (those that require several applications to cover gray). Also, studies have suggested an association between some hair-dye chemicals and certain cancers, but as yet the evidence is inconclusive.
If you want a color that fades gradually and evenly (thus eliminating the need for frequent retouching), consider using henna, a plant extract.
However, the results are unpredictable, so if you’re planning a big color change, use traditional coloring agents.
Don’t use a henna rinse if your hair has been permed or colored, and never perm or color over henna.
Don’t use shampoos containing sulfated castor oils, which can strip color.
How TO READ A LABEL
Here are 10 common shampoo and conditioner ingredients and what they can and cannot do for your hair.
|Aloe||This plant extract interacts with living skin cells but is thought to have little effect on the dead cells of the hair|
|Balsam||This natural resin stiffens the hair, adding volume and body|
|Eggs||The protein in the egg does not break down into a form that hair can catch and hold|
|Herbs||These are so delicate that their intended benefits are usually lost in the blend of other ingredients|
|Lemon||Citric acid, not lemon juice, is usually the active component of these shampoos. They’re designed to remove the film from oily hair to make it shiny and soft|
|Moisturizers||Urea, lactic acid, lecithin, and others help the hair shaft hold water, which is useful for dry or damaged hair|
|Oils||Coconut, avocado, wheat-germ, and other oils shield against evaporation and slick down the surface of the cuticle, adding shine|
|Proteins||Hydrolyzed proteins, keratin, amino acids-the hair has an affinity for these proteins and others, which fill in cracks in the cuticle|
|Silk||Tiny parts of fibers added to shampoo act as reflecting particles, causing the hair to look shiny|
|Vitamins||Panthenol, a form of vitamin B5′ penetrates and restructures the hair shaft. However, hair cannot absorb other vitamins-such as A, D, and E-from shampoo|
Increased hair production may occur for several reasons, including menopause (because of a drop in estrogen production), certain diseases (such as multiple sclerosis and encephalitis), certain medications (such as phenytoin, minoxidil, and some contraceptives), and tumors that produce androgen (a male hormone). If you experience this condition called hirsutism, consult a doctor. If necessary, tests can help determine the cause and provide a direction for treatment.
Facial shaving is acceptable for women. Contrary to conventional wisdom, shaving does not make the hair grow back thicker; the hair that grows back is initially shorter and therefore stubbier-looking than the hair that was removed. See More information about shaving.
Weezing is fine for removing stragglers-like those between the eyebrows or on the upper lip-but you risk inflammation if you use this technique for large areas. To dull the sting,
apply a cold or ice compress before or after tweezing. Never tweeze hair from a mole or mark on your skin.
Because they can irritate sensitive skin, bleaching and depilatory preparations should be tested on a small sample of skin the day before each application. To minimize irritation, apply a moisturizer afterward. For facial hair, use a product made specifically for the face.
The sun, chlorine, salt water, and sweat can all irritate the skin when a depilatory or waxing product has been used. Don’t stay out in the sun too long, engage in vigorous activity, or swim in chlorinated or salt water for 24 hours after using these hair-removal methods.
If you do experience inflammation, apply Burow’s-solution compresses followed by a hydrocortisone cream, or try witch hazel or both antibiotic and cortisone creams. Do not squeeze any bumps, as this can lead to infection and scarring.
The only permanent way to remove hair is by electrolysis. This expensive, somewhat uncomfortable process involves killing the hair roots with an electrified needle. Don’t use it if you’re prone to keloids or have suffered from ingrown hairs. Because of this method can cause infection or scarring, it should be done only by a licensed or certified operator
(not all states license electrologists). Ask your dermatologist for a referral, and look for the initials CPE (Certified Professional Electrologist) after the name. You can also help to prevent infection, inflammation, and scarring by applying both an antibiotic cream and a cortisone cream twice daily for five days after having the procedure.
Skin irritation may cause more hair or thicker hair to grow under a plaster cast. The hair will return to normal, however, soon after the cast is removed.
HAIR LOSS AND BALDNESS
If your hair is thinning, don’t go on crash diets (a bad idea for anyone) and don’t take large doses of vitamin A; they can both cause hair loss. Also, avoid teasing, back-combing, using tight rollers, and anything else that can pull-hair out at the roots.
Both coloring and perming will dry your hair, but they won’t damage the roots or exacerbate hair loss.
If you have experienced sudden hair loss, see your doctor. Round or oval bald patches may indicate alopecia areata, a common hair-loss condition that can be treated.
Sudden hair loss may also be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as an inactive thyroid gland.
Certain medications for ulcers, arthritis, and high cholesterol can also cause sudden hair loss. If this is the case, your doctor may be able to provide alternatives.
If you have had recent surgery or have been under extreme stress, hair loss may be due to these circumstances.
If you have a bald spot, be especially careful to use sunscreen and to cover your head while outside. The sensitive skin on the scalp is especially susceptible to the adverse effects of ultraviolet rays, and exposure to the sun may have ten hair loss in some men.
Most men eventually experience a receding hairline. With some, the process slows after the crown has thinned out. With others, it continues, affecting the back and sometimes the sides of the head. For those who want to cover bald spots, there are new hairpieces that are anchored to natural hair with wires; however, the constant tug on the natural hair promotes its loss. Other alternatives include plastic surgery, such as hair transplants and scalp reduction, and topical minoxidil, which can stimulate hair growth. Minoxidil, an expensive drug, must be used daily to maintain new hair growth, and the results are often disappointing.