Hair Care

September 12, 2011

Feeling positive about our appearance helps us to feel positive in other areas of our lives. Our hair speaks volumes about us—from the color to the cut and ultimately the style that we choose. Beautiful, healthy, chic hair can be a reality for everyone. It simply requires a little attention, the inclusion of a few easy details in our daily routine, and a good stylist.

Beautiful hair is achieved by using a shampoo that contains high concentrations of natural ingredients and essential oils and a minimum of synthetic additives. On a daily basis, rely on shampoos made with pure plant essence, provitamin B5, and antioxidants such as vitamin E. This choice is your first step in working toward the goal of healthy, beautiful hair. Additionally, a special detoxifying shampoo once a week may be helpful to remove any product buildup from accessory hair products or other toxins.

There are many variables that lend uniqueness to the appearance of our hair. One of these variables is the condition of the scalp; that is, whether it is oily, dry, or normal. Other variables include the thickness of the hair, including the actual density and diameter of each strand of hair. Finally, there is the texture, which influences how much straightness or wave the hair has.

Condition of hair is another factor. Hair that is damaged and has its cuticle sticking up tends to look dull. Proper conditioning in and out of the shower is important for promoting shiny hair. Combing conditioners through in a downward motion to smooth the hair cuticle is a key process.

Another important variable is the type of styling products used, which influence hair volume. Hair styling products may be oilor water-based. Products are intended to either increase or decrease hair tensile strength. Hair oils, creams, sticks, pomades, and waxes are meant to decrease volume and smooth hair. Sprays, gels, and mousses are designed to increase hair volume and texture.

Individuals with fine or thin hair should take caution to avoid overconditioning. Alcohol additives, given a bad name by some companies, may be useful in adding volume to thin hair. Women with thick or medium-textured hair should use a shampoo with more active cleaning properties and a medium weight conditioner. Thick and medium-textured hair can tolerate leave-in conditioners and styling products that are either oilor water-based. Hair that is curly and coarse, but fine, is prone to damage. This type of hair requires a very gentle shampoo and a heavy conditioner. Those with coarse hair may benefit from oil-based styling products that are geared toward decreasing volume. Try massaging jojoba mixed with essential oils for extra conditioning before a shower. Coarse, highly textured hair that is thick requires deep conditioning. Oil-based products should be used because thick coarse hair with texture is resilient and can take a highly active shampoo.

All types of hair should be cleaned periodically with a detoxifying shampoo. Those living in urban areas that are exposed to higher levels of pollutants should consider detoxifying once a week. The same is true for those using multiple styling products on a daily basis and for those swimming frequently in chlorinated pools or seawater. A good detoxifying shampoo with highly active cleansers can remove pollutants, oil buildup, and shampoo residue. However, overuse of a detoxifying shampoo can have negative effects, such as a loss of shine and pliability that may ultimately lead to breakage. Rely on a good detoxifying shampoo but avoid using it too often.

Our hair has a certain degree of resistance to damage. However excessive chemical use such as that involved in perming, bleaching, and double-process coloring can do irreparable harm. That is why it is so important to rely on a stylist who is knowledgeable about all hair types and who uses products considered least harmful to hair. Become knowledgeable about your specific type of hair and work within that framework (Table 1).

Table 1. Hair care tips
Hair do’s Hair don’ts
• Use a detoxifying shampoo based on need, according to manufacturer’s directions • Brush wet hair
• Use uncoated rubber bands
• Comb conditioners through hair
• Always condition especially longer hair • Sleep with rubber bands, barrettes, hair clips, hair combs, or bobby pins in hair
• Cut your hair every 6—8 weeks (even growing out hair, trim ends 1/4 in. at least)
• Subject hair to excessive heat from hair dryers and curling irons. Follow manufacturer’s directions
• Brush your hair often
• When using heat or chemical processes always use conditioner and other protective products • Expose hair to the sun for long periods
• Leave chlorine or seawater in hair after swimming

Most women rely on word of mouth when seeking guidance for hair care and styling. If such references are not readily available, choose a salon where the hair stylist seems adaptable to your aesthetic sensibilities and sense of fashion. Look for a stylist who has patience and who will help you articulate your hairstyle goals. Semantics and communication are important. It is unadvisable to ask for a trim or a shaping. This provides the stylist with little useful information. Instead, be as specific and direct as possible. A good stylist will be open to your ideas and will value pictures and sketches. Best results are obtained when you and the stylist work as a team to achieve your goals.

SEE ALSO: Calcium, Dermatitis, Diet, Hair loss, Hair removal, Iron supplementation, Nail care, Skin care

Suggested Reading

  • Ferrell, P., & Rackley, L. (1996). Let’s talk hair: Every black woman’s personal consultation for healthy growing hair. Washington, DC: Cornrows.
  • Janssen, M. B. (1999). Naturally healthy hair: Herbal treatments and daily care for fabulous hair. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.
  • Massey, L., & Chiel, D. (2001). Curly girl. New York: Workman.

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