Tips to Great Hair

Girl checking her hair for split ends
Photo: MSMaria/Shutterstock
Many of us forget the basics of good hair care when we get busy and develop bad habits that can rob us of healthy hair. Even with reparative routines such as weekly deep conditioning and hot oil treatments, it is often the daily stresses that result in cumulative damage.
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 misconceptions. So, without further ado:
1. Never brush hair when wet, and never comb hair when dry. This may seem overly simple, but it adheres to the fundamental principles of good hair care. When your hair is wet, it is more elastic and more prone to breakage. Since brushes pull the hair in multiple directions at once to smooth it, they can be dangerous to wet or damp hair, as 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 stress at the ends in particular. For best results, use a wide-toothed plastic comb while the hair is wet; then, once it is towel-dried, switch to a good rubber-toothed brush. Go to a bristle 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 as well. Use only smooth, plastic combs without visible or otherwise detectable seams, as the seams can often scrape the hair shaft and distort it. Additionally, avoid wooden combs; wood can have microscopic divots that can 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 such as oxygen, to the hair follicles. This will also help to keep the hair tangle-free during the shampooing process, as you won't be relying on the water flow to do the detangling.
Brushing and washing your hair
Photos via Canva
4. Know your water. If your hair looks dull or is hard to style, the problem could be your tap water. Well water contains natural minerals that can leave hair lusterless and difficult to manage and can impart a brassy, orange hue. Mineral-laden water is often referred to as 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 the ends of your hair with water before using home coloring processes. The ends of your hair are more porous and, as a result, absorb more pigment. Wet hair does not 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 absorption.
6. Trim away the dead weight. As the ends of your hair get older and are damaged by rough handling, they become prone to splitting. Get regular trims, at least half an inch every four to eight weeks. Hair grows, on average, half an inch per month, so trimming is necessary to maintain healthy ends.
It is important to remember that damage to the hair is cumulative, so the last half-inch of hair at the ends is always the most damaged and abused, simply because it is the oldest part of the hair. Cutting away these most damaged parts will help you keep the rest healthy-looking.
Hair with split ends and product
Photos via Canva
7. Use the right product for your hair. If you know your hair is oily, don't use products designed for dry, damaged hair. Conversely, the same is true. The formulas indicated on the product labels are designed to address specific hair problems. Dry hair shampoos are light on cleansing and high in moisturizers, whereas shampoos for oily hair have stronger cleansers and astringents to help absorb, strip away, and manage the oils in the hair over longer periods of time.
If you shampoo daily, use the gentlest shampoo you can find. If you use a lot of hair products and find that your shampoo becomes less effective as you use it repeatedly, try adding a clarifying shampoo into your routine every third or fourth shampoo. As with most hair damage, the results of using a hair product are often cumulative, so while you may not see a problem using a shampoo for oily hair on your dry-type hair initially, the effects may become more pronounced as you continue to use it.
Continue reading...