Hair can be one of our greatest defining features, even in its absence. Its style can tell the story of our culture and its versatility is a unique form of expression. Hair can also be a sign of the times, representing different eras, beliefs, and styles. As an extension of our skin, hair requires treatment and nourishment to keep our strands healthy for extended periods of time. Depending on your hair texture, different styles and products may be more beneficial than others. For all hair types, the focus should be keeping your hair protected and your scalp nourished to prevent any damage. Beautiful, healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp. Thankfully, a great amount of research has been conducted to help you if you are suffering from thinning, itchy, or flaky hair. Let’s look at the similarities and differences in caring for our hair depending on our hair texture.
This step should be familiar to all people. When we wash our hair, we are removing a buildup of sebum, skin follicles, and plenty of hair care products. We should consider hair washing as one of the basic hygiene steps, but the difference between this step and brushing our teeth is that this does not have to be done daily. When we use shampoo, we are primarily applying this product to our roots in order to clean the scalp. Imagine a hair follicle trying to break through the barrier of the skin…it can’t do so if there is too much build-up in the way.
Oil Build-Up & Sebum
Sebum acts as a natural oil-like conditioner for the hair. Individuals with curly, kinky, or coily hair may benefit from allowing the sebum to moisturize their hair and can go one to weeks without needing to apply shampoo. The Cleveland Clinic notes that washing naturally dry hair too often can lead to brittle and weak hair, so it’s best to space out wash days. This also applies to people with chemically treated or dyed hair that tends to be drier and needs washing less frequently, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Individuals with straight or wavy hair will likely need to wash their hair about every other day or at least once a week because the sebum may cause the hair to look greasy.
In a 2015 article by Paschal D’Souza and Sanjay Rathi published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, the authors indicated the ways in which modern advances in technology and chemistry have made it easier to create a shampoo that does not require detergents or preservatives. This is great news for people with drier hair because washing your hair is no longer equivocal to having parched hair. Many people have experienced the benefits of using sulfate-free shampoos that allow for a more gentle wash.
Conditioning is my favorite step and often takes place immediately after applying the shampoo. While shampoo primarily focused on the root of the hair, conditioner focuses on the tips. The tips of the hair are further away from the scalp, making it more difficult for sebum to nourish the ends of our hair. Many conditioners work better the longer they are left on the scalp, so it is best to shampoo and condition your hair at the beginning of your shower to allow your hair to absorb all the benefits of the product while you’re in the shower.
Deep conditioners are also known as intensive hair conditioners and tend to have more concentrated ingredients. These can be left on the hair for 30 minutes to a few hours and are usually applied to chemically treated or very dry hair. Some conditioners with large amounts of protein have even shown to temporarily seal the split ends of hair. Thicker, oil-based conditioners that generally work best on curly, kinky, and coily hair may be too heavy for individuals with straight or wavy hair. Find the right product that works for you by following these methods.
Once you get out the shower and your hair is clean, avoid harshly rubbing it with a towel. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests either wrapping your hair or letting your hair air dry. Rubbing with a towel may cause too much abrasion against the hair and lead to breakage.
Whether your hair is straight, wavy, kinky, curly, or coily, it is best to brush your hair while it’s still wet and moisturized. This will ease the movement of the comb through your hair and help prevent breakage.
If you choose to apply heat to your hair, keep it on a low heat setting and try to limit the amount of time that the heat is in contact with your hair. Heat can cause damage to the hair by breaking the sulfide bonds in the hair strands. While it can be prevented, heat damage is often permanent and may only be treated by cutting the hair.
Avoid Excessive Pulling and Tugging
When styling your hair, you can prevent damage by making sure that your hair is not being pulled more than it has to be. When the hair is pulled to harshly, this may lead to hair loss. Consider this when putting your hair in a ponytail, cornrows, weave, etc. When your hair is pulled too tight, it can cause headaches and hair loss. If you feel in pain, your hair is likely being damaged. Every once in a while, try switching hair styles so that your hair is not constantly pulled in the same direction.
As you’re styling your hair, apply products that can keep your hair nourished until your next wash day. Adding oils to the hair adds additional moisture and elasticity that can keep the hair looking sheen and refreshed. Skinz Cosmetics has a variety of hair oils that can provide the additional moisture needed and help minimize damage. It is also helpful to apply leave-in conditioners that can not only add a nice scent to the hair, but can keep the hair hydrated over time.
If you notice any changes to your hair, it is always best to consult a dermatologist can properly assess and diagnose your hair condition.