About the author: FutureDerm.com is proud to introduce Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D., on our staff as a Contributing Writer. Dr. Taha received her MD from Kuwait University in 2002, and a master’s degree in Dermatology from the University of Alexandria in 2010. She also runs a blog in Arabic dedicated to spreading the knowledge about dermatology and cosmetic dermatology in a simple, concise manner (elbashra.com). For her full bio, please visit our About page.
What are some dermatologist tips for better hair? I’ve tried everything! Plus, I love your hair posts!
Once the hair comes out of the scalp, it becomes dead tissue, incapable of regenerating. Any damage that occurs due to styling, heating, or coloring, is irreparable. Eventually, hair loses its shine and luster, becomes coarse, frizzy, and hard to manage. It is always best to do as little as possible to your hair, but since we all know we cannot resist all the yummy styling we can do, here are a few guidelines to help make hair a bit happier:
- NO shampoo or conditioner or any kind of hair care product can give your hair a characteristic it lacks or has lost, such as increasing hair thickness or repairing split ends. The effects are always temporary and are lost with the next wash.
- Hair should be washed around 2 – 3 times a week.
- Shampoo is applied to the scalp and allowed to run down the hair. Conditioner is applied from the ends up, avoiding the scalp.
- During shampooing, massage your scalp gently, rather than rubbing vigorously, to avoid irritating the scalp, or damaging hair roots, which may attribute to hair loss.
- Avoid using water that is too hot.
- You know how everyone always says their hair always looks better the second day after being washed? The reason is that many regular shampoos strip the hair completely of its natural oils, which makes hair dull, coarse, subject to static electricity, and more difficult to style. Using a conditioner helps solve this problem. 2 in 1 shampoos are also a good option.
- Look for hair products that contain dimethicone, which has been shown to moisturize and add shine. It can be found in Yes to Carrots Pampering Conditioner ($15.98, Amazon.com)
- Remember: hair is most fragile when wet. Avoid too much manipulation until it has dried partially at least.
- It is best to pat the hair dry. Avoid excessive rubbing with the towel.
- When possible, opt for air dying rather than heat drying.
- When heat drying, start out with a lower heat setting and then go higher gradually. When hair is wet, water is actually inside the hair. If heated too quickly, water starts boiling inside the hair, leading to bubble formation and hair rupture.
- Do not sleep with your hair wet (for the same reason of hair being fragile when wet).
- Applying direct heat to the scalp can cause burns, damage hair roots, or in the least irritate the scalp enough to cause itching and flaking. Try to start about an inch away from the roots.
When to brush after washing hair? The latest recommendation from the American Academy of Dermatology states that the timing of hair brushing depends on the type of hair: If it is naturally straight, wait half an hour before brushing. If it is naturally curly, brush to detangle after towel drying.
- Never brush too harshly or pull on the hair when tied or in a roller to prevent damaging the follicle which may lead to hair loss (traction alopecia).
- Contrary to a popular myth, boar bristle brushes are not better for hair. It is best to stick to the more readily available plastic brushes.
- Teasing or backcombing should be kept to a minimum as it damages the hair.
- Do not allow the comb to hit or scratch the scalp. Speaking of scratching the scalp, if it is itchy, visit the doctor, and avoid scratching, which can damage the hair and, as we mentioned in a previous article (link to bad habits article), brings on more scratching.
Long hair is old hair, and it undergoes what is termed as “weathering”, which is basically the normal loss of cuticle, luster and shine due to being around for a long time, which means it is more subject to thinning and split ends.
- To keep hair looking healthy, it should be trimmed often: about half an inch every 2 months.
- Very short hair should be trimmed more frequently to keep the short style looking tidy (every 1 – 2 months).
- To grow hair out, trimming still has to be done, but trims should be kept further apart (every 2 -3 months).
Coloring/ Straightening/ Curling
- The more permanent the hair dye is, the more damaging it is to the hair.
- As a general rule, going darker is less damaging than going lighter.
- Hair that is dyed or bleached is fragile, dull, dry, and more easily affected by humidity. Always condition your hair to give it back some of its luster and strength and to avoid breakage.
- Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase prevents hair pulling while turning your head during sleep, and can help keep a style longer as well.
- Prevent sun damage by wearing a hat or scarf, which will not only protect from sun rays but also wind and pollutants.
- Some leave in conditioners and hair sprays contain UV protection, which are a good idea in the summer time, when our hair is most exposed to the sun rays. An example is the Phyto Sun Care line or TRESemme’s Climate Control line.
- Use a hair cap in the swimming pool to protect it from the chlorinated water.
ZD. Draelos. Hair Care Illustrated: An Illustrated Dermatolgoic Handbook 2005.A Shai et al. Handbook of Cosmetic Skin Care 2009.American Academy of Dermatology.
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