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Natural Health

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Hair Do's (and don'ts)

A certain hair cut can dramatically change the way you look. A certain hair cut can dramatically change and enhance the way you look. And it’s not just about the cut - it’s also about colour, care and condition. So put on your black smock and relax, we’re off to the hairdresser…

What is Hair?

Without stating the obvious, hair is a fine, threadlike structure made up of a tough protein called keratin. It consists of a root embedded in a follicle within your skin’s dermal layer, with a shaft projecting from your skin’s surface. As the follicle makes new hair cells, the old ones are pushed upwards towards your skin’s surface. Once the hair protrudes from your skin, it becomes keratinised, which basically means its cells harden and die. This is why you can cut your hair without experiencing pain. The same thing happens to your nails.

Hair Health

Stress wreaks havoc upon your hair, so ensure you eat plenty of foods rich in Vitamin B such as oats and cereals. As with any health regime, it is important to drink at least eight glasses of purified water every day. Like most parts of your body, hair needs to be looked after to stay in tiptop order. Here are some of the foods you can eat to help grow a great crop of hair:

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Sardines

Sardines are high in protein, omega-3s and easy-to-absorb iron. Eating sardines helps ensure a good supply of oxygen to the hair root, which encourages regular growth of hair follicles and thus reduces loss of hair and the appearance of thinning. Protein is vital for a strong outer keratin coating on your hair. Omega-3s maintain the health of the scalp, keeping it well hydrated, flexible and resistant to dryness and flaking. If sardines don’t exactly whet your appetite, try mackerel, dark chicken and turkey meat, red meat, dark green vegetables and sesame seeds.

Crab

Crab provides you with copper, which helps prevent brittleness of hair. Crab may also help your hair retain its natural pigmentation as you age, thus slowing down the rate at which your hair turns grey. Crab contains sources of protein needed for development of keratin. If crabs are not within your budget, try walnuts, cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds.

Walnuts

Walnuts also provide you with the copper needed for production of the melanin pigments that give hair its colour and help it remain hydrated and thick. They also contain iron, helping prevent hair loss. Walnuts are an anti-cholesterol food, reducing build-up on blood vessel walls and keeping a strong flow of blood to the head and scalp. Omega-6s in walnuts also help keep the scalp healthy. If walnuts are not for you, try crab, mussels, whiting, liver or pulses.

Guava

Guavas are one of the best sources of Vitamin C, which keeps capillary walls flexible and maintains a regular supply of nutrients to the hair root. Vitamin C also helps balance protein absorption, preventing follicles from becoming blocked with keratin. Guavas contain carotene, which may protect the scalp from burning when exposed to sunlight. If guavas are not in season, try berries, oranges, capsicums, papayas, carrots or sweet potatoes.

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Hair Facts

Shampoos and Conditioners

Along with a nutritious diet, the shower contributes greatly to how your hair looks. The old saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ certainly rings true for your hair, since the natural oils in your hair (as well as the use of hairdryers, styling product and spray) attracts airborne pollutants and dust.

Unlike your face, you don’t need to wash your hair every day, but if left unclean for too long, your hair becomes oily, limp, dull and dirty. Not nice! Regular washing with the right product helps you make the most of your hair. Washing too regularly strips it of natural oils, making it dry and brittle. No matter what hair type you have or what condition it is in, there is a shampoo and conditioner to match it. Keep in mind your hair condition can change with the season, or even the time of month, so you may have to switch your shampoo and conditioner accordingly. It’s time to switch products if your hair:

It’s important to note that sometimes your scalp may be dry, but your hair is oily, or (more commonly) your scalp is oily, but your hair is dry. There are shampoos and conditioners specifically for this condition. Garnier Fructis Fortifying Shampoo & Conditioner for Oily Roots, Dry Ends and Alonza Equivalence Combination Cleanser & Conditioner balance the natural oils produced by the scalp and restore moisture to dry and damaged hair.

Tip: Beware of harmful UV rays, even in the cooler months. Choose shampoos and conditioners that have UV filters. If your fitness routine involves a swimming pool, use a shampoo designed for chlorine-affected or chemical-affected hair. - Joe Gibara, leading Australian hair stylist

Coloured, Permed or Treated Hair

For coloured, permed or treated hair, use a shampoo with ingredients that are gentle and moisturising and don’t strip the colour. Shampoos and conditioners specific for coloured, treated or highlighted hair allow you to get the most out of your colour, while adding shine to grey hair and reducing yellow. To add nutrition, protein, shine and manageability to your hair, try Matthew James Moisture Seal Shampoo & Conditioner, the J Colour Shampoo & Conditioner, Alonzo Luminescence #2, or Jalyd Colour Saver Shampoo & Conditioner.

Volumising shampoos and conditioners provide more volume because they contain proteins that bind to your hair. Look for ingredients like dimethicone copolyol, a derivative of silicone, which plumps up your hair. Some residue does build up with these products, so use sparingly. If your hair is fine, alternate with your regular shampoo and conditioner. Try ARTec Volume Shampoo & Conditioner or PPS Thick As Shampoo & Conditioner.

Tip: If you’re a regular user of styling products, rinse your hair with lemon juice or vinegar every now and again (not too often, since it dries your hair). The acid cuts through any residue that has built up from using the products. If you do this before you have a colour or treatment, it allows better penetration and more even absorption.

Tip: Conditioners should have a pH of 4.0-4.5 to maintain keratin and other proteins in the hair.

Tip: Most of us eagerly rinse out a conditioner before it’s had a chance to do its job. Conditioners should ideally be left in for 2-5 minutes (although in view of the current drought, you may wish to reduce the amount of water flowing while the conditioner works away)!

Snow Flakes

We all get the occasional flaking of the scalp. This is perfectly normal and doesn’t mean you have dandruff. Dandruff is characterised by a dry, itchy scalp and white flakes of dead skin. It is more common in men than women, and in people with oily skin types. The exact cause is unknown, but stress, sweating and hormones are all contributing factors.

For most sufferers, dandruff is a lifetime condition that can be controlled by using a medicated shampoo that removes the dandruff and reduces the rate of shedding. These shampoos usually contain coal tar, salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid), selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione. Soncin Scalp & Hair Revitaliser (www.soncin.com), Alonzo Equivalence Sensitive and PPS Scalp Solution Treatment are specially formulated to treat a dry and itchy scalp. In the case of severe dandruff, where flakes are yellow and the scalp is red and inflamed, the problem may be seborrheic dermatitis, which requires medical attention.

According to Wendy Lewis, author of ‘The Beauty Battle’, dandruff sufferers should: