Your scalp contains sebaceous glands, which secret oils to protect your hair and keep it shiny. Sometimes these glands go into overdrive and oil builds up on your scalp, giving it a greasy appearance. If the sebum hardens, blocking blood flow and nutrition to the hair roots, your hair weakens and can fall out. The excess oil also attracts dirt, leaving hair heavy, limp and dull.
Tip: To check if you have an oily scalp, part your hair and blot the exposed part of your scalp with white paper. If there is a grease stain, your scalp is oily.
Fine hair is most prone to looking oily and limp. This look is best avoided by washing daily with a mild shampoo. MOP Pear Shampoo, Natures Soul Herbs and Lavender Shampoo, and Ego Hairscience Shampoo all contain natural ingredients to promote a healthy scalp. It’s not necessary to use a conditioner, but if you feel you must, avoid those containing mineral oils and lanolin, which coat your hair. Only use small amounts and even dilute with water. Ego Hairscience Conditioner for Fine Hair is soap-free and extra mild, while Natures Soul only use natural and organic ingredients.
In humid weather, you may need to wash your hair more often, especially if it’s oily. In rainy weather, oily hair attracts moisture, which can make it go wild and woolly. This is when a finishing spray or an anti-frizz serum can save the day. Try Joico’s Travallo Design and Finishing Spray, or Matthew James Liquid Hairspray.
Dry hair doesn’t necessarily have insufficient oil and moisture content. If your hair is dry and brittle, instead of having normal shine and texture, it may be due to excessive washing, chemical abuse, heat processing, a hostile environment or even friction caused by over-brushing or the fabric of your pillowcase. If your hair is on the dry side, always use a conditioner after shampooing. Use Terax Shamp Collagene enriched shampoo and conditioner, Alonzo Luminescence Cleanser #3 shampoo and conditioner, or Jalyd’s The Shampoo and The Conditioner.
Treat thirsty hair by leaving it in a mask once a week. Hair masks deeply penetrate the hair shaft, helping restore moisture, elasticity and suppleness. They also add shine and volume to make your hair more manageable. Try MOP’s Extreme Protein, Lendan Activa Plant Repair 10, Alonzo Luminescence Essential Masque for Dry and Damaged Fine Hair, or Matthew James Conditioning Res Q Leave In Treatment.
Any tool that adds heat - hairdryers, straightening irons, heated rollers, etc - can cause further damage, so use heated appliances in moderation. Tongs and irons should be limited to once a week. Always blow-dry your hair using a thermal protection like Matthew James Daily Vital Rejuvenator or Alonzo Luminescence Smoothing Creme.
If your hair is constantly dry and breaks easily, and intensive conditioning doesn’t help, the problem may be more serious. Consult your doctor to rule out a metabolic condition, hypothyroidism and poor nutrition.
I remember watching old movies in which the leading lady would sit at her dresser in her long, white linen nightdress and brush her hair (100 strokes) before going to bed. That seemed like a waste of time in my mind, since she was still going to wake up in the morning with bed-head! However, there may be some method to this madness, since a good brushing helps stimulate your scalp and brings a good, nourishing blood supply to the hair root. Brushing also removes hair that has fallen out and any dead skin on your scalp. A Pad Brush is perfect for this as it’s not too rigid, with wide-set bristles to really work the scalp.
Brushing is also good for styling, and using the right brush can take the hard work out of creating a style. For anyone confused about what brush achieves what look, let’s brush up on our brushes:
The Paddle Brush
This has a big platform that looks like a paddle. It’s great to blow-dry wavy or frizzy hair straight, while creating volume. Simply tip the head forward and brush your hair from neck to hairline, directing heat along the length of your tresses as you brush.
This has vents, or air holes, in the platform. Great for creating a ‘flicked out’ look on layered hair and for grooming dry hair into shape.
This is cylindrical with short bristles protruding from the cylinder. Available in various sizes depending on the purpose. Use a large brush for straightening and smoothing curly hair. It can help smooth the cuticle, while adding incredible volume. A medium brush creates soft, sexy waves in longer, layered hair. It’s also good for straightening medium-length hair or for creating a sleek bob. A small brush is perfect for adding volume and height to shorter styles.
Combs are the great detanglers, but never use them on wet hair, which is weaker and more prone to breakages. Like brushes, there are many combs to choose from depending on the job at hand. A metal-tail comb is good to part and section your hair. A detangling comb has thicker, contoured teeth to allow for gentle untangling and to comb through conditioner. A teasing comb (ballpoint metal teeth) provides the dual action of lifting the hair while teasing.
Tip: When combing long hair, always work from the ends up to avoid tearing or damaging the hair.
Tip: Ponytails and tight braids tug on hair and cause breakages. If tying your hair up, use covered hair bands instead of rubber ones. The wider the band, the less tension on the hair. Vary where you wear your ponytails and occasionally wear your hair out to limit the stress.
The hairdryer is the most popular hair styling tool that uses heat. Curling irons come in second, and with the current trend for straight hair, straightening irons are right up there too. However, use hair styling tools with caution, particularly if your hair is not in good condition. Heat can literally boil the water content out of your hair shaft and severely damage the cortex. Too much heat makes any hair look and feel dry and lifeless.