As dermatologists, we are extensively trained in the health and science of hair care. Thick, shiny hair is part of a youthful, healthy appearance, and signs of aging can become noticeable in the 30’s and 40’s. This can show up as brittle strands, thinner hair, and of course color change to gray. Overstyling, UV damage, and dandruff can also keep your hair from looking its best. Read on for some tips on caring for your hair with as much concern as you give to your skin.
Getting To The Root of Chemical Hair Damage
When hair is damaged, the protective lipid layer of fat on the outside of the cuticle – responsible for making the hair shiny – is removed. Chemical damage is one of the most common culprits of hair damage, as processed hair loses its natural moisturizers. The result is dried-out, frizzy hair that does not hold its style and accounts for the hair’s dull appearance.
Tips to Combat Chemical Damage:
- Use conditioning shampoos and conditioners regularly to improve the appearance of frizzy hair. 2-in-1 shampoos that remove oil from the scalp, clean the hair, then condition the hair in the rinse phase also are good choices.
- Look for products containing dimethicone, which is available in shampoos, conditioners, sprays and creams. This ingredient has been shown to decrease static electricity, increase shine and improve manageability.
- Try newly introduced hair serums, which are applied by a few drops on the hands and rubbed through the length of the hair (but should not be applied directly to the scalp).
- Stop dyeing your hair and opt for hair’s natural hair color instead.
- If you must dye your hair, stay “on shade” – or dye the hair within three color shades of its natural color. Dyeing hair darker, rather than lighter, also is generally better.
When The Heat Is On, Hair Needs Some Time Off
Heat damage is another common source of hair damage, which produces a condition known as bubble hair. This occurs when the water in the hair, which makes the hair flexible, gets heated and turns into steam. Hair bubbles then occur on the hair shaft, creating a loss of cuticle. Signs of this form of hair damage include hair that smells burned, frizzy ends and hair that breaks easily.
Hair damaged by heat cannot be repaired, as the affected hair will need to be cut off and allowed to regrow as healthy hair. Allow hair to air dry, when possible.
Tips For Heat-Damaged Hair:
- Allow hair to air dry when possible.
- When using a hairdryer, do not use the highest heat setting immediately. Start out on the lowest heat setting first, then gradually increase heat.
- Look for temperature-controlled devices to control the amount of direct heat to hair.
- Moisturizing the hair regularly will help the appearance of heat damaged hair to some degree, but stopping the source of heat damage is essential.
- If hair becomes brittle, stop the procedure and let new hair growth replace damaged hair.
TLC For Healthy Hair
- The less you do to your hair, the better. Avoid over-styling or processing hair.
- Be sure to wash the scalp, which is where the oil is, and then let shampoo run through the hair. Shampoo is meant to clean the scalp primarily and can damage the hair if overused.
- Let how oily your scalp is determine how often you wash your hair. If your scalp is oily, wash hair more frequently than if the scalp is drier.
- Conditioner should be used on the ends of the hair, not on the scalp, for best results.
- Pick a shampoo and conditioner based on your hair shape, such as curly or straight, and your hair condition, such as damaged, fine, or frizzy. These products don’t need to be expensive to work well for your hair.
- Wear a hat to protect hair from ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Read what Dr. Hooper says in Refinery29′s “How To Go No Poo-What to Expect Going Shampoo-Free.”