New Year's Tips to Great HairAs the New Year arrives it’s time to make those resolutions. And one resolution you should make for yourself is to treat your hair better in 2010. A lot of us forget the basics of good hair care when we get busy and we get into bad habits that can rob us of healthy hair. Even when we employ reparative routines such as weekly deep conditioning and hot oil treatments, it’s the daily stresses that often result in damage that adds up.
So in the spirit of the new beginning, here is a reminder of the little things that add up to healthy hair when we put them into action. These are mostly common-sense, but occasionally myths become accepted as fact and we need to clear up these myth-conceptions. So without further ado:
1. Never brush the hair when wet, and never comb the hair when dry. This may seem over-simplified, but it holds to the basic tenets of good hair care. When your hair is wet, it is more elastic and more easily broken. Since brushes pull the hair in multiple directions at once in order to smooth the hair, they are dangerous to wet/damp hair because the hair is more fragile in that state. Similarly, combing the hair gathers multiple strands and forces them together in clusters that, when dry, can result in stresses at the ends in particular. For best results use a wide-tooth plastic comb while hair is wet; then, once it's towel-dried, switch to a good rubber-toothed brush. Go to a bristled brush once the hair is completely dry.
2. The proper brush is key to healthy hair. Avoid brushes with plastic bristles and instead use natural-fiber, boar-bristle brushes on your hair when it is dry. If you need a brush for use with damp hair, choose one that has widely-spaced rubber teeth. Proper combs are important too. Use only smooth, plastic combs without visible or otherwise detectable seams. The seams can often scrape the hair shaft and distort it. And avoid wooden combs; wood can have microscopic divots that snag hairs.
3. Brush your hair before shampooing. A few gentle strokes through the hair will help remove product buildup and scalp flakes, as well as stimulate the scalp and promote blood flow (which delivers nutrients like oxygen) to hair follicles. This will also help to keep the hair tangle-free during the shampooing process, since you won’t be relying on the water flow to do the de-tangling.
4. Know your water. If your hair looks dull or is hard to style, the problem could indeed actually be your tap water. Well water contains natural minerals that can leave hair lusterless and hard to manage and can impart a brassy, orange hue. Mineral-laden water is often called “hard water”. Soft water, on the other hand, has fewer damaging minerals and leaves the hair feeling softer and silkier. If you are dealing with hard water in your area, rid the hair of mineral buildup by shampooing every week with a clarifying shampoo. You can purchase testing strips to check for hard water, or simply call your local water board to find out whether your area has hard or soft water.
5. Mist your hair ends with water before using home coloring processes. The ends of your hair are more porous and, as a result, absorb more pigment. Wet hair doesn't absorb color as readily as dry hair, so if your home color treatments seem to result in your hair being darker at the ends than nearer the scalp, try making the ends damp to slow down the color penetration.