Your hair type is the way it is because of your genes, lifestyle, diet, stress levels, and the climate, so how can we take better care of it?
We all know that hair is made up of dead cells. Maybe that is why a lot of us assume that it can withstand harsh chemicals, and we style it with chemicals and sometimes regard it as a separate entity to our bodies.
The scalp contains sebum, which is the reason our hair shines, bounces, and remains free from infection. Sebum usually takes the blame for acne and breakouts, but in reality, it’s just doing its job. Acne and breakouts occur because of hormonal imbalances, not just because you have sebum, and this is probably why we tend to reject sebum as a bad and harmful, and try to get rid of it time and again, subjecting ourselves to harsh chemicals in the process.
But it is important to note that your shampoo can be more a foe than a friend. Shampoos usually include chemicals that make the product lather up easily, look inviting, or smell lovely, and chemicals like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (also called SLS/SLES) clean sebum from your scalp. While ‘cleansing’, they replace the sebum in your hair with other toxic and harmful chemicals, which are then absorbed through your scalp.
Whatever your natural hair is like, it is important to keep it healthy, clean and with a good amount of moisture balance, especially in a place like Singapore where exposure to conditions such as UV rays from the sun, and air conditioning can be incredibly damaging and dehydrating. Here are some ways to care for different types of hair.
Curly hair is generally drier than its straight counterparts. This is because curly hair tends to restrict the movement of hair oils, and the hair ends up being frizzy as a result. So to bring curly hair to a natural shine, The Curly Girl offers these tips:
- Don’t ever brush your hair
- Detangle only when your hair is soaking wet. Use a wide-tooth comb, or better yet, just your fingers
- Never rub your hair with a towel. Instead, gently blot the water using a scrunching motion
- Try to air dry your hair. If you want to dry your hair quickly, it is okay to use a blow dryer. Make sure it’s on cold. Never use a blow dryer on high heat
- Don’t touch your hair while it’s drying
- If going out into the wind, twist or braid sections of your hair and pin or clip them to the crown of your head. Take it down at your destination and it will be curly and non-frizzy
- Olive oil keeps dry and damaged hair healthy, silky, and shiny. Just apply it to your hair, ideally twice a week. The best part is that it’s inexpensive and if the oil is organic, there are no chemicals that you have to look out for
According to some hair experts, you would be better off giving up shampoos. Yes, completely giving them up for life, because they clean a little too much. Instead, perform a simple water rinse and a 1 to 3 min massage with a trusted conditioner. This cleans your hair, without drying it out, and removing the sebum. Since conditioners have some cleansing agents, this is perfectly fine. Hoewever, do make sure that your conditioner is free of harmful chemicals, and has a few humectants like panthenol, vegetable glycerin, sorbitol and honey.
To maintain lustrous wavy hair, here’s what The Curly Girl advises:
- Wet hair under a gentle shower.
- Take a tablespoon of conditioner and using your fingers, lightly coat your hair from the ends to the mid-shaft. This hair has been around longer than the hair at the roots and needs more lubrication. The conditioner protects the hair by not allowing shampoo to penetrate and dehydrate the shaft.
- If you’re using shampoo, squeeze no more than a half teaspoon onto your fingertips and apply it gently to the scalp and roots only. Don’t use your nails. Start at the forehead and work around the scalp, then rinse thoroughly.
- Add a half teaspoon of conditioner to your hair and work it through with your fingers. Then rinse quickly, for just a few seconds. Now you’re ready to blot-dry your hair.
Wash your hair once a week with shampoo, no more than that. For the other days, follow the above regimen without the shampoo.
Subject your straight hair to chemical-free cleansing no more than twice a week. On non-shampoo days, to get rid of the grime settled in your hair, simply water rinse and conduct a 1 to 3 min massage with conditioner.
If your hair is too oily and greasy, you can use one cup of vinegar with four cups of water or diluted lemon juice as a rinse, occasionally.
Lauren Cox with Janet Cox of Ecobeauty also suggest this recipe: Pour boiling water over 2 mint tea bags let it cool down. Remove the bag and then stir in some vinegar. After washing your hair as usual, apply the entire mixture to your hair, massage it into your scalp and work it through your hair. Then dry your hair as you normally would. Do not rinse out the mixture.
General hair care tips
Here are some general hair care tips that apply to all types of hair, as advised by hair experts:
- Trim your hair regularly, even if you are planning on growing it long. Healthier hair grows faster, so try to squeeze in time for a trim every six to eight weeks.
- Stay away from harmful chemicals like sulfates, coal tar, parabens and others. If your hair product contains these, bin it and go buy safer ones. This goes a long way to help your hairs come back to their natural state.
- Massaging hair with nutritious hair oils is good because not only will it help the stuck debris break away; it will also unclog the follicles and moisturize the hairs. There are various hair oils, so go take your pick. Leave it on over the night and wash off in the morning.
- Living a healthy lifestyle is not only good for your body, but also for your hair, yes. Plenty of vitamins, minerals, water, omega-3s, and calcium are deemed good for healthy hair. Couple that with a restful sleep to keep your hair shining and strong.
- The majority of women with perfect hair say they either don’t dye their hair at all or they do it infrequently. Chemical dyes are incredibly damaging for the hair; they leave the hair brittle, damaged, and lacking lustre, on top of carrying known carcinogens.
Article contributed by Vaishnavi Sairaj