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Caring for my hair

This article contains information about caring for your hair. It talks about common hair problems, the best shampoo for you, your hair type, sun damage to hair, hair conditioning, washing, drying and brushing

Hair brushing

Women tying her hair outdoors

Brushing massages the scalp, helping to remove loose scales, and distributes sebum evenly through the hair, helping it to shine. However, over-brushing can make your hair greasy and may damage the hair and scalp.

When brushing use a firm, regular stroke, pull the brush through the hair close to the scalp in a smooth motion and repeat until the scalp feels warm and tingly. Do not brush hair when wet as it can break. Combing may help to untangle knots gently. Ensure that your brush and comb have smooth rounded bristles. Don't use metal combs and brushes, which can damage the hair cuticle.

Hair drying

Lynx Hair Clean Cut

Hair is most fragile when wet so take extra care when drying. Squeeze excess water out gently and then pat dry with a towel as rubbing will weaken and tangle hair, causing it to break easily. If you use a hairdryer you must be careful not to overdo it. Try not to hold the appliance too close when drying hair and use a difuser for lower temperature. Excessive heat can cause your hair to lose its natural moisture, resulting in dullness, brittleness and breakage during brushing.

Hair washing

Never 'scrub' whilst washing. Use light, even movements. Gently massage the scalp with a circular action using the pads of your fingers, not your nails. Work shampoo into wet hair starting from the scalp where grease accumulates and work your way to the ends. Do not leave shampoo in your hair for any period of time. Rinse out thoroughly.

You can shampoo your hair as often as you like! As long as you are using the right shampoo, washing won't make oily hair any oilier or dry hair any drier. And, unless your hair is particularly dirty or oily, you don't need to 'rinse and repeat'. The detergent action works in one lathering and water will rinse off the shampoo along with the dirt and oil.

To avoid too many tangles after washing, brush your hair before you wash it. When you add your shampoo, lather by massaging in a downwards motion. Rinse and condition in a similar manner. While you may still have a few tangles they should be greatly reduced.

Hair conditioning

The use of a conditioner after shampooing will keep hair looking shiny and healthy and will help protect it from damage. Conditioners have benefits for both wet and dry hair. On wet hair it gives a smooth, slippery feel, preventing the hair becoming tangled and difficult to comb. The benefits continue even after hair has been dried, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. Hair is easy to comb and static flyaway is controlled.

For optimum results, conditioners should be chosen to complement your shampoo. For example, if you choose a shampoo for dry hair you would choose a conditioner for dry hair as well. To apply, squeeze the conditioner into your hand. Dip your fingers in it and start applying from the roots. Gently comb your fingers through your hair, coating it from root to tip. Concentrate on the most damaged areas, usually the ends. Leave on for 2-3 minutes for optimum results and rinse thoroughly.

A shampoo and conditioner combination is formulated to work together. The cleansing properties of the shampoo are balanced with the moisturising properties of the conditioner. The fragrances of the shampoo and conditioner will also be compatible. Therefore it is recommended that the 'matching' shampoo and conditioner be used.

Importance of a balanced diet

food prep

Since hair is made of protein you need a properly balanced diet to maintain hair growth. Your hair can't thrive without enough zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium and B complex vitamins. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit and salad with protein sources such as lean meat, eggs and fish. 

Hair can get sun damaged

Hair is made of similar keratin protein found in the skin and can suffer dryness and become brittle from unprotected sun exposure. To avoid problems, use a shampoo and conditioner fortified with UV filters such as SunSilk Colour Lock.

Determining your hair type

To properly care for your hair it is important to understand your hair type. Normal hair appears strong and healthy and has good body. It stays looking freshly washed for longer. Dry hair is prone to damage and loses shape and bounce. This type of hair lacks lustre. Oily hair actually feels oily and becomes lank and limp soon after shampooing. Combination hair feels oily at the scalp with dry and brittle ends.

Hair becomes oily when your scalp produces sebum and it travels down the hair shaft. Often the hair farthest away from your scalp can be dry or damaged. So, it is a good idea to use a conditioner on the ends of your hair even if it is naturally oily.

What is the best shampoo for my hair?

To care for your hair it is important to use a shampoo and conditioner suited to your hair type. Extra body variants coat each hair shaft thereby increasing the diameter of the individual hairs. Dry variants contain lubricants that coat the hair shaft, protecting it from brushing and combing damage.

Dry shampoo variants are designed to increase hair's moisture level by penetrating to the cortex and attracting water to the hair. Oily shampoo variants contain different (better foaming) surfactants and few, if any conditioning additives. Coloured hair can be protected from sun damage and colour fading by using shampoos that contain UV filters.

Common hair problems

Hair damage can be caused by three main factors:

  • Mechanical damage, for example by harsh brushing, combing or rubbing the hair too harshly with a towel.
  • Environmental damage,usually caused by damage from UV radiation which causes structural damage to the hair fibre and changes to the hair pigment.
  • Chemical damage, caused by chemical treatments such as perming, bleaching and tinting which change the chemical structure of the hair fibre and can make the hair more susceptible to damage.

Split ends can be minimised with proper care. Split ends are a sign of dryness and hair damage and best way to manage them is to prevent further damage. Make sure that you use a good quality shampoo and conditioner to suit your hair needs; do not brush your hair extensively, especially when it is wet; avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and wind; and trim hair regularly.

Dandruff is scaling of the scalp. On a normal scalp the upper layer of the epidermis is lost gradually as a fine powder which is virtually invisible. When the scalp is irritated, large sheets of cells are lost, these are dandruff flakes. The cause of dandruff is not clearly defined, but is thought to be related to the presence of microflora on the scalp. The best way to control dandruff is to use a 'medicated' product such as SunSilk Scalp Care Dandruff Shampoo.

It is normal for about for 50 to 100 strands of hair a day to fall from your scalp. This is part of the normal hair shedding and renewal process. However, any sudden hair loss or concern about the amount of hair shedding should be investigated with your doctor.

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