Isn’t it amazing how many ads on television you see for men’s hair products that claim to promote healthy hair! I mean c’mon, let’s get real! There is no such thing as “healthy hair.” Hair is made up of protein and keratin, it’s that simple. The hair itself has no blood supply or any nervous system. Hair is not alive, so it can’t be “healthy.” Because hair is not a living structure, it cannot repair itself and must be maintained properly to preserve strength, elasticity, and shine. Shampoos that claim to “repair the damage” are simply lying, the hair can not be repaired. Once hair is damaged, the only way to “repair” it is to cut off. Just like your car, your hair needs proper maintenance.
The following are a few tips to keep your hair looking great and looking healthy!
Towel drying is one of the leading causes of damage. Let’s admit it, we love to take the towel and rub our hair like crazy until it’s dried. The problem is that when hair is wet, it is also very easily damaged. When we rub our hair with a towel, some of the hairs become tangled in the threads of the towel and are stretched to the breaking point, causing damage to the cuticle and split ends. To minimize the damage from towel drying, shake out the excess water and then dry your hair by moving the towel over your hair in the direction it grows. Remember, the damage that is already done cannot be fixed, but after a few haircuts, you’ll see the difference.
Blow drying is also another cause of hair damage. It dries out both the hair and scalp. I’m just not a big fan of the blow dryer, but if you must use it, follow these tips. First, to prevent damage from blow drying, apply a thermal styling spray to the hair. This will protect the hair from a comb and protect against heat damage. Next, make sure to hold the dryer 6-10 inches away from the hair and move it quickly from side to side. This will keep the hair from becoming damaged by heat. Finally, avoid drying the hair completely; leaving the hair slightly damp will prevent drying out the hair.
Easy On That Comb, Pal
When the hair is wet, stay away from damage by using a wide-tooth comb or brush. This will limit the damage caused by a comb or brush pulling on the hair.
Wash in Lukewarm Water
Water that is too hot can dry out the hair and scalp. Take it easy on the heat.
Avoid Chemical Abuse
Repeatedly coloring hair or using any types of chemicals can wreak havoc on the head. Chemicals used to process hair can be harsh to your hair and scalp. I do not endorse use of at-home chemical products. A good barber or stylist will know how to properly prepare your hair and scalp and help chose the best product to protect hair from damage.
Don’t Over Wash
Feel free to shampoo daily. Shampoos are designed to deposit softening agents, moisturizers and protecting agents into the hair shaft. Remember when you shampoo, concentrate on cleansing the scalp, the hair will be sufficiently cleansed just by rinsing the shampoo out of the hair.
Make Hair Grow Faster and Stronger
Drinking plenty of water, taking your daily vitamins, living in stress free mode, getting plenty of sleep, and eating well will help promote faster growth of the hair. The hair is often a reflection of the entire body, meaning, body that is healthy and well maintained will likely have hair that is strong, shiny, and healthy looking.
Ditch the Ponytail and Ball Cap
Try to avoid wearing tight ponytails or baseball caps as much because it can cause “traction alopecia.” This pretty much means you have a tight style which leads to breakage and pulled hair out of the scalp. If you do this too much, the damage will become permanent. If you have to wear a baseball hat or a ponytail to keep the hair out of your face, then maybe it’s time for a haircut that fits your lifestyle.
Frizzy hair is caused by a low amount of moisture and protein. To control frizz, use a good moisturizing conditioner. You can also apply a “smoothing” serum such to add shine and manageability.
Brighten Dull Hair
Hair becomes dull when the cuticle (the outer layers of the hair shaft) is damaged. Well maintained cuticle layers lay flat (like fish scales) and reflect light. When the cuticle is damaged or raised hair tends to become caught on other hair shafts and reflects light poorly, leading to a dull look. Following the steps discussed above will help protect the cuticle and brighten dull hair.
Watch the Pool Water
Pool water contains chemicals that can dry, damage, and discolor hair. To minimize damage from chlorine and other chemicals, always wet the hair with tap water before entering the pool. This will help prevent your hair from absorbing water from the pool. I recommend taking a spray bottle filled with tap water and a tablespoon of conditioner to the pool. Before getting in the pool (and frequently during swimming), wet your hair completely with your water/conditioner mixture. This will help prevent damage, dryness, and discoloration caused by pool water. If you notice discoloration, use of a Clarifying Shampoo (discussed under “Styling Advice”) can help.
Use the Proper Styling Product
Using the proper Styling product is essential to keep your hair in great shape. Many over the counter products contain harsh chemicals and Alcohol that can damage and contribute to many common hair problems.
Caring for Straight Hair
Wash every other day with a gentle shampoo and follow with a light conditioner. If you’re maintaining a longer style, have it trimmed every six weeks to remove split ends. Pomade will help keep hair relaxed and natural while adding shine and separation.
Caring for Thinning Hair
Choose water-based products that won’t leave a heavy residue and weigh hair down and provide volume and lift. A thickening shampoo and conditioner will help. Keep the cut short and choppy and it will appear fuller. Longer hair will make hair appear thin and stringy.
Caring for Wavy Hair
To minimize excessive volume, use a hydrating product and dense conditioner to add weight. A medium-length cut will work well for a versatile look. For styling, an oil-based or pomade(such as Baxter of California’s Water Pomade) will add shine and weight.
Caring for Curly Hair
Curly hair’s structure can stop natural oils from reaching the hair’s ends leaving you with a frizzy look. Use a strong moisturizer to keep hair soft. Keeping hair cut short will help maintain a neat look. Longer styles should be layered to reduce volume. Wash hair no more often than every other day and follow with a good conditioner. A good leave-in conditioner will help add extra moisture. Style your hair with an anti-frizz serum.
Peter Mitchell Owner of TheMetroMan