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Basic Hair Care Science

Updated on December 28, 2018
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Whenever I first got into hair styling, I thought I could throw in an obnoxious amount of hair gel and hairspray and that would be it. I was completely unaware of how many products and techniques there were to choose from. Not only did my hair gel and hairspray adventures look bad, they also fried my hair. I've always liked my hair, but I love it the most now. I have been more educated by professional stylists, and I have done my own research to learn more about why it’s important to look after your own hair and find products that work for you.

Educate Yourself

First things first, education is important! Everyone is unique, and so is their hair. If a product is not working, it's either the quality of it, or it's not meant for your hair type. So many people try to use a one size fits all approach for shampoos, conditioners, and products. Everything down to the brushes and combs you use can impact your hair, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with products and tools that work best for you. This may take some experimenting. Take your time and enjoy trying out different things!

Stop Washing your Hair Every Day

No one likes greasy hair. As a result, many people will wash way too many times to try and keep the oiliness away. Because the oils in your hair and scalp are constantly being stripped, your body will go into overdrive and produce extra to try and make up for the loss. The oil produced is called sebum, it is produced by the sebaceous glands that are located all over your body. Sebum is the body’s natural moisturizer, and it helps your hair follicles by adding natural moisture, protection, and shine.

When you stop washing every day, you will notice that your hair feels even more oily. This is because your sebaceous glands have become so used to pumping out extra oil to replace the amount lost every day. They will continue to produce sebum until your body has detected the larger presence of it in your hair. It’s all part of cutting down how much you’re shampooing, the awkward stage if you will. If you find yourself uncomfortable with the greasiness, you can help by using dry shampoo. Dry shampoo is a quick way to refresh your hair by absorbing any oils lying around as well as adding a nice scent and maybe some volume, style, and control.

In addition to the frequency of washing, the actual shampoo that you use will play a very important role in taking care of business. Choosing a good shampoo will depend a lot on your personal goals and hair type. You should think about thickness, texture, moisture level (if your hair is naturally drier or oilier), how often you style and add product, and other goals and preferences. For people, and especially guys, who add product often, it is recommended to use a clarifying shampoo once or twice a week to penetrate deep down and remove build up.

The conditioner that you use is just as important as the shampoo; after all, it is going to be what puts moisture back into your hair, seal it, and adds a little extra protection to help keep everything safe from the everyday stresses we face. It is well advised to look for products that contain moisturizing and other nourishing ingredients.

The Effect of Heat

Many people on this Earth own a blow dryer; many people own straightening and curling irons. These tools are fantastic for getting the style you want. And although these tools are great for style and control, they can have some drawbacks.

Blow dryers are great for quickly drying hair and shaping it into the style you want before applying a product. However, they can make things too dry, cracked, and weak. Blow drying is flash drying, which is getting rid of surface moisture as well as water of hydration (water molecules that have bonded to your hair). This will dry out cuticles and create cracks along the surface. When they become weak like this, something as simple as combing your hair can cause further breakage. Straightening and curling irons are very frequently used as well. In addition to straightening out curls or adding them, these tools can cause your hair strands to break in the middle and split apart.

If heat elements are a part of your routine, it is recommended to look into thermal protection products. Leave-in conditioners are recommended and great for giving an extra push in protecting against heat. These conditioners are meant to stay in for a longer time before being washed out and contain certain oils that nourish and provide an extra layer of strength on your hair follicles. Other products that can be useful are serums. Serums come with a variety of purposes and you can find some that are great for thermal protection. They are silicon based liquids that coat your hair strands and help distribute heat more evenly and slow the rate of temperature rise.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you do. There isn’t a way to completely avoid damage. There’s just too much going on, whether you have a hefty styling routine, or you decide to walk outside for a day, there’s bound to be something that gets to your hair. Although there is that something, investing more effort into preventing damage isn’t pointless. We don’t think about it that much, but we should. Continuously exposing our hair to these things can lead to split ends, broken strands, and a head of hair that looks worn down. Getting to know your type and texture, trying on different products, tools, and routines are just some of the ways that you can make sure you keep your hair healthy for as long as possible.

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