Basic rules for softer stronger hair
Whatever I do, my hair feels dry and splits easily. Is there a solution?
It’s this time of the year when many of us are returning from beach holidays refreshed and rejuvenated. Parties, summer weddings, family gatherings translate to latest fashion trend outfits supplemented by Victoria’s Secret model bouncy loose curls or Jennifer Aniston-like ultra silky locks!
As dermatologists we see many people (predominantly women) complaining their hair is falling out, when in reality it’s splitting more easily rather than falling out as such. Hair is quite resistant, but extremes of heat from powerful hair dryers and from hair straighteners reaching temperatures of 180°C within seconds, can irreversibly damage the hair cuticle.
Even greater damage occurs when heat is applied directly on wet hair: the water in the hair cortex is converted into steam, which creates little pockets filled with gas, also known as air bubbles. This translates to dry dull hair that splits easily, smells burnt, and frizzes even more, particularly at the hair ends. Hair, being a non-living tissue, cannot repair itself. This means the only remedy is to cut the damaged hair and wait for new hair to regrow.
Research has also shown that hair is susceptible to damage by sunlight. Melanin, which gives the dark pigment in our skin and hair, has a protective effect against ultraviolet light. When this is reduced or missing, for example in mature hair, the susceptibility to sun damage is greater.
If all or part of this description applies to your hair, then make a fresh start by adopting a more healthy hair friendly routine:
Avoid heat and allow your hair to dry naturally as much as possible.
If you wish to use a hair dryer, use it cool first, and increase the temperature as the hair gets drier. Remember, wet hair is more fragile!
Ideally avoid hair straighteners. If you cannot avoid them altogether, at least avoid using them on wet hair, never do a second pass, opt for a temperature control ceramic device, avoid straightening the hair ends (as they are generally weaker) and use the device sparingly. Heat protectant spray helps, but not 100%.
Trim any damaged hair, as it won’t repair itself.
Insert moisture back into your hair by using sulfate-free shampoo, and pre- and post-shampoo conditioner, especially if you have wavy or curly hair.
Don’t over wash your hair. Let your hair and scalp tell you how frequently it needs washing depending on how oily it is.
Don’t comb or brush your hair more often than necessary.
And remember less is more…the less you manipulate your hair the better it will feel and look!
If you have concerns you really are losing hair, then see your dermatologist. The same applies with other symptoms such as a flaky, red or an itchy scalp.