Whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you have a lot or a little, your hair is your crowning achievement. We all know the basics right… shampoo, condition, and style…but are you doing it right?
Since we are all born with a specific number of follicles, how we care for those follicles is extremely important. Guys, you may think hair care is a woman’s indulgence, preening and styling far beyond what you do, which may be true, but the bottom line is the way you take care of your hair matters, for both sexes.
Dead or alive?
Did you know that hair is both alive and dead? Crazy but true. It’s alive at the root level, but dead from that point on. That being said, the scalp definitely benefits from added positive attention, but the hair shaft, dead or not, can also benefit from proper maintenance and care.
Cosmetologist Louise Delle Chiaie, a veteran hairstylist for over forty years, offers these simple haircare tips to achieve healthy beautiful locks, whether you’re a woman or a man.
Nutrition is the cornerstone of healthy hair!
-Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy well-balanced diet. Protein is extremely important for hair growth.
-Vitamins: Biotin supplements provide hair and nails with added strength, while folic acid may help combat hair thinning. *Consult your physician for appropriate dosages.
Professional products make a difference!
When buying product, “You have to factor in whether your hair is permed, colored, or both when choosing shampoo and conditioner. Whether your hair is dry or oily, whether you are in the sun, under fluorescent lights a lot, whether you use styling tools… it all matters when you choose a product,” Louise advises.
Only product purchased from a certified stylist through a salon or spa, is the real McCoy. Any professional products you find in big chain retail shops (i.e. grocery, drug stores, etc.), are either counterfeit, tampered with, come from the black market, or have been sitting far too long on shelves. (yes, product can go rancid!). Products are not guaranteed if you don’t by them from a certified stylist. This is no ploy by your stylist to get you to buy more expensive product from them; their products are usually less expensive than the retail shops, plus, they can offer you specials as well.
“Sometimes what you find in retail spaces are knockoffs,” Louise comments, which means you are not guaranteed that the product is what it says it is. “In some cases, a product that’s been kept too long on the shelves will break down and not be effective,” she adds.
*Read below for more information on product.
Step one – shampoo; step two – condition!
It is not necessary to wash your hair every day. “Washing too often can strip the life out of your hair,” Louise says. Every time you wash, you remove oils from your hair, which can dry it out. “Wash every other day if possible, and when you think your done rinsing the shampoo out, rinse again,” she adds, then it’s time for conditioner.
Even on the days you don’t shampoo, condition. Conditioner softens and smooth’s the hair shaft. After shampooing you may notice that your hair doesn’t feel smooth – even wet it feels like it’s lacking moisture – but after conditioning it’s silky; almost as if it’s been restored. Also, using a deep conditioner a few times a week can enhance those strands even more!
While in the shower, after applying conditioner, use a wide tooth comb to gently spread conditioner through hair. Leave conditioner in while you finish the rest of your shower. Unlike shampooing and rinsing, when you rinse conditioner out your hair should still feel silky to the touch, so don’t over rinse; leave a little bit in there.
Next step: Detangler!
Use a spray on or apply a foam detangler before combing wet hair with a wide tooth comb. The detangler helps the comb guide gently through the hair without pulling, and adds moisture.
The larger spaces in a wide tooth comb eliminates snags and tangles, and is easier on your hair shaft. Start with the comb at the bottom of your shaft and work your way up to the root, that way you’re not pulling on your hair excessively and causing stress. Be gentle.
When hair is dry, use a soft bristle brush (manmade bristles are fine) – not a styling brush with the balls on the end, every day. Brushing the scalp stimulates the roots and promotes hair growth; it exfoliates. It also helps pull any natural oils through the hair shaft, acting like a natural conditioner; this goes for you guys as well! *Never use a brush on wet hair.
Styling usually means heat, and using cheap products or no product at all could ultimately damage your hair. Using a mousse, moracan oil, and thermal styling products before blow drying or using straightening tools or curling irons, will help protect the hair shaft. Think about it; if the shaft is considered dead, applying heat without a buffer just can’t be good.
Get your hair trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks for optimal healthy growth results, especially if you’re growing it longer. Once hair begins to split, whether reacting to harsh styling tools, mistreatment, bad product, or the sun, it will not grow healthy on the ends, therefore any new growth will not be healthy. A good stylist will want to cut dead ends off to promote healthy growth, even if you protest.
Some additional tips:
- Ladies, never use actual rubber bands in your hair; they will rub harshly against the shaft and ultimately damage your hair. Use properly coated elastic hair bands.
- Avoid habitual behaviors like twirling your hair or even pulling a hair tie too tight; it can stress hair at the root, and no one likes hair tie headaches or bald spots!
- Workout sweat: “If you just get a little damp from sweat it’s not bad to leave it for a little while, however, if your scalp is soaked and dripping you should rinse because salt is very drying to your hair,” Louise advises.
- Pay attention to changes in texture: According to Louise, subtle changes in texture could be a sign that the follicle may not be getting the right blood supply from the capillary. Thinning hair is something we all want to avoid as well, whether you’re a male or female. Discuss changes you see with your stylist and your doctor.
- Honesty: What you may want to do to your hair might actually damage it. If you have a good stylist, they will say no to you if your hair is not up to a perm or highlight. “I do the elasticity test, Louise says, “If the hair strand doesn’t snap back, it’s elasticity is gone and it isn’t healthy enough to take on added abuse that comes with perms, etc.” If your stylist is really about you and not the money, they will tell you to wait, to get your hair to a healthier point, and then you can talk about the extras.
- Change it up: Changing your shampoo and conditioner brand can also reboot your hair. “After a while with the same product, your hair just doesn’t respond as well. When you switch it up you will usually notice more shine, more body, and sometimes better overall texture,” Louise notes. As with exercise, eating, going on a much needed vacation., a change in routine can bring added benefits.
Remember, with only so many follicles, taking care of your hair correctly is so important! Not only do we all want to keep what we have, we want to look our best as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your pockets will be empty. What it does mean is that in order to make the most of what you’ve got you need to be educated, you need to take the time, and you need to take care of every last follicle!
Art credit: Featured Image – Donna Estabrooks
*More on product!
“It is illegal for unlicensed retailers to sell any professional products,” Louise says, “As a salon owner and cosmetologist I was required to sign legal documents professing that I would not sell to any secondary market under any conditions or I could be fined.” It makes you wonder how these retailers get these products – check this article for more information: http://www.newsnet5.com/money/consumer/consumer-specialist/retail-vs-salon-some-products-not-what-they-seem-including-test-on-paul-mitchell-shampoo
The solution, Louise strongly insists you purchase products from a reliable professional, because they will be more knowledgeable and in tune with your individual needs and can guide you to the best product for you.
What about products that are not considered ‘professional’ products; are they safe? According to Louise, “They have a lot of polymers added in (synthetic materials used to make plastics or resins) too much wax, too many fillers, too much alcohol, and sometimes, depending on the product … detergent.” Louise says that washing with these products can strip the life out of your hair, “They can create what we call a ‘chemical fire’ within the hair!”
And what does Louise say to that small percentile that has beautiful hair despite the use of inferior products; two schools of thought, “Don’t fix what’s not broken, or, you may find that by using better products your hair could look even better.”