Having healthy, strong hair and a great hairstyle can boost self-confidence. An effective hair care routine using the right products can help keep your tresses in excellent condition and prevent hair and scalp damage. Here are some useful hair care tips!
The hair that grows on top of the head is different from the hair that grows elsewhere on the body. This is because the scalp is rich in blood vessels, and contains more hair follicles and sebaceous glands than any other part of the body. The sebum produced protects the skin surface and promotes the growth of healthy hair.
Hair shafts, or what we call hair strands, are considered “dead” since they have no biochemical activity. The real growth occurs inside hair roots, which are covered by hair follicles. Connective tissues in the skin’s layers form the hair follicles and help nourish hair.
What Causes Hair Damage?
Hair growth slows down as we age, and hair damage or even loss may occur due to a number of factors, both internal and external. In fact, the health and appearance of your hair also reflect your body’s overall health.
Signs of hair damage such as breakage, brittleness, hair loss or dryness may be caused by the following:
The body’s hormones significantly affect the appearance and growth of hair. For women, menstrual cycles, pregnancy and childbirth may cause hormone levels to fluctuate, leading to brittleness, breakage, dullness and even temporary hair loss. Hormones may also be affected by illness.
Lack of nutrients due to an inadequate diet can affect hair appearance and growth. “When a person has an eating disorder or is omitting certain foods from her diet, this can adversely affect the health and appearance of the hair,” said dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos in her talk at the American Academy of Dermatology’s (ADA) SKIN Academy on hair care. “Hair that is not getting enough nutrition from the foods we eat doesn’t grow well and it won’t have that radiant, healthy glow.”
Blow-drying, or using a straightening or curling iron can seriously fry your hair, especially if you have frizzy, dry hair or already damaged hair. When exposed to high temperatures, the keratin strands in hair change shape, resulting in weaker and less elastic hair. In extreme cases, hair can even melt and burn, making it susceptible to further damage.
Incorrect or excessive use of hair products like shampoo, conditioner, styling treatments and colorants can also cause damage. Residue from hair gels, waxes and sprays mixed with excess sebum, dirt and sweat on the scalp and hair shafts can contribute to further hair and scalp problems.
5. Improper Styling and Grooming
Using a hair brush on wet hair creates unnecessary tension on hair shafts, stretching them to nearly breaking point. The myth of brushing hair with 100 strokes also has no proven benefits. Extremely restrictive hair styles such as tight ponytails, hair buns, braids or cornrows can also inhibit hair growth.
How to Care For Your Hair
You can keep your hair healthy by making simple yet mindful changes to your hair care routine, the products you use, and how you style your hair.
1. Adequate food and hydration
Some signs of hair damage such as hair fall, hair loss or brittleness may indicate that you’re not taking in enough nutrients. Aside from eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water also prevents your scalp from drying or becoming oily due to excess sebum.
2. Use the right products for your hair type.
The American Academy of Dermatologists (ADA) recommends using a shampoo and conditioner formulated for your specific type of hair. Choose the appropriate products if your hair has undergone chemical treatments like straightening, perming or coloring. Curly hair, straight hair and dry hair can benefit from a daily conditioner that not only improves the appearance of your tresses, but also decreases static electricity, boosts strength and protects from heat damage.
3. Shampoo your scalp, not your hair.
According to Dr. Draelos, shampoo is designed to clean the scalp, not the hair. “Small amounts of sebum on the hair shaft are desirable for smoothing the cuticular scale and decreasing static electricity. This allows the hair to appear shiny and lie smoothly against the scalp,” she said.
4. Protect your hair when you swim.
Whether you’re hitting the pool or beach, it’s important to maintain the health of your mane from the harsh pool water and seawater. Apply a leave-on conditioner before swimming and make sure to massage it all over your hair and scalp. A hair mist like Surfer’s Diane Water and Sun Care Protect Hair Mist creates a protective coating that helps minimize damage from chemicals, salt and UV rays. Rinse hair immediately after swimming. A swim cap also adds an additional layer of protection.
5. Dry hair gently.
Avoid wringing or rubbing your hair dry with a towel to prevent damaging the hair shafts. Instead, dry hair by pressing sections gently between the folds of a towel to remove excess water.
6. Minimize thermal damage.
Most hair experts recommend using a curling or straightening iron only once a week to avoid stressing hair. If you must blow-dry your hair, use the lowest heat setting and maintain at least a 12-inch distance from your hair. If your hair and scalp still feel hot after blow-drying or ironing, lower the temperature using the cool setting of the dryer. To alleviate hair stress and stimulate the scalp, use the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Collagen Ceramide Coating Protein Treatment on towel-dried hair while in the shower for at least 5 minutes.
7. Use hair oils, hair serums and hair masks.
In an April 2017 report, market research firm Mintel cited that leave-in hair treatments are used more frequently by women who have frizzy hair and split ends. Meanwhile, scalp care products are considered by those with hair suffering from external damage from chemicals or air pollution.
Hair oils and serums make your locks look shiny and sleek while providing a protective layer against heat, especially at the tips. YesStyle’s bestselling Etude House Silk Scarf Hair Hologram Hair Serum contains argan oil that makes frizzy, dry hair softer and smoother, while adding body and volume to fine hair.
8. Use the right grooming tools.
Instead of a hair brush, a wide-toothed comb is better for detangling wet hair. This prevents hair shafts from being stretched and broken due to tugging. Hair brushes with wide bristles and rounded tips minimize friction and stress on hair, especially when blow-drying.
9. Give your hair a break.
Whenever possible, give your hair room to breathe. You can choose to air-dry instead of using a dryer; let it loose over your back instead of tying it up in a ponytail or twisting it into a bun; or skip bleaching and coloring for a month or two to give your hair roots time to recover. For a great self-care treat at home, use a leave-on hair mask like the Nature Republic Argan Essential Deep Care Hair Pack or A’PIEU’s Super Protein Steam Hair Cap at least twice a month. Leave it on your hair for at least 10 minutes to let the concentrated ingredients restore vitality, shine and smoothness.
10. Wear a hat.
It sounds so simple but wearing a hat especially when outdoors can minimize damage to both your hair and scalp.