Tips for maintaining healthy hair
1) Trim hair regularly – old hair is weathered, damaged hair. To keep hair young, keep it trimmed.
2) When washing hair don’t scrub. This flakes the cuticle through rubbing the hair fibers together. It is better to “milk” the hair from the forehead backwards in the same direction. This means you are smoothing your hands over your hair in the direction that the cuticle has grown. This should help reduce cuticle flaking and with the cuticle in better condition so the hair should keep its shine for longer.
3) If you have dry hair use a moisturising shampoo. Shampoo can be quite damaging to the hair fiber. It’s also taking away oils that you may need if you have “dry” hair. Teenagers and people who are very active or work in dirty conditions may have to wash every day in which case consider using a very mild shampoo with a separate conditioner.
4) Use a mild shampoo. Look at the shampoo ingredients. Avoid anything that contains harsh detergents such as sodium lauryl sulfate. Sodium laureth sulfate is milder and some shampoos do away with sodium sulfate based detergents altogether.
5) Avoid shampoos with plant oils in them. They are very popular, but they can be quite harsh oils. They are also more likely to promote scalp dermatitis. Find something with a light mineral oil content. Mineral oil is much less damaging to the hair fiber and skin. If you must use plant oil based shampoos look for one with Jojoba oil. This type of oil is the least allergenic of the plant oils and it cannot be utilized by bacteria as a food source.
6) If you have very dry hair, look for shampoos with humectants in them. Shops serving afro hair communities are more likely to stock these. Those with Afro hair often have particular trouble with dry dull hair and may find a variety of mild oil based products useful for application after washing. There is the potential for scalp irritation from the oils so pay close attention to how your scalp responds and avoid using them if you have any side effects.
7) Use a separate conditioner. These shampoo and conditioners all in one are okay for average hair but they are not good for dry hair. Separate conditioner plus very mild shampoo is much superior to a combined product. Apply conditioner in a milking fashion as with the shampoo.
8) If you have dull, dry, problem hair don’t even think about dying your hair or using relaxants or similar. Any chemical action on the hair like this breaks down the chemical bonds of the hair cuticle and cortex. Permanent damage quickly sets in and your dull, dry hair will rapidly get worse.
9) Afro hair has a greater amount of low sulfur protein compared to high sulfur protein than observed in Asian or Caucasian individuals. This means it is more liable to damage from relaxers, bleaching agents, and dyes. Consider avoiding these harsh chemical treatments or reducing the frequency of use.
10) Brittle hair can be a genetic problem in which case the only option is a trip to the trichologist. It might on occasion suggest a lack of appropriate nutrients. Although this is rather unlikely with a typical western diet, you might take a look at the supplements in the health food store. There are usually formulations specifically for hair typically including things like biotin, zinc, cysteine, silica, vitamin Bs, Folic acid etc. Don’t overdo supplements as some can be toxic in high doses. The recommended dosage on the bottle might be of benefit. You might try it and see.
11) Comb or brush in the direction of the cuticle (from hair root to tip). Find a metal comb or brush with metal teeth if possible. Plastic combs create static in dry hair making hair management more difficult.
12) If possible avoid air pollution and excessive exposure to sunlight both of which can act on the chemical bonds of hair follicles and increase the rate of weathering. It is difficult to avoid but consider a baseball cap or similar.