30 Ways to Improve Hair Health and Appearance
No matter what your hair type, find out what keeps it healthy and how to make it look good if you haven't been quite as caring as you should. Many of these tips are common sense, but some may surprise you.
1) Wash Your Hair Less Frequently
Frequent shampooing can either dry hair out or stimulate sebum production, which makes it greasy. That’s why you should wash your hair no more than two or three times a week. Always shampoo twice: once to rid the hair of dirt, sebum and product build-up, and a second time to allow the shampoo’s active ingredients to work.
2) Shampoo Only Once If You Wash Daily
It's tempting to wash greasy hair daily, even though you know it can worsen the condition. To minimize damage, shampoo only once using as little product as possible, and always rinse with lukewarm rather than hot water.
3) Use Dry Shampoo
In order not to over-wash, especially if your hair is greasy, use dry shampoo between washes. Spray or sprinkle the shampoo into the roots and distribute throughout the hair with a wide-toothed comb. Not only will it absorb excess sebum and leave a clean texture, but you'll achieve more volume, too.
4) Make Sure You're Using the Right Shampoo
Use only shampoos formulated for your hair condition. This is particularly important if your hair is dry or chemically treated. Products specifically for colored hair, for example, help to minimize fading and have hair strengthening properties.
5) Find the Most Effective Dandruff Shampoo
If your scalp tends to scurf, don't expect a generic dandruff shampoo to cure it. You'll save yourself a lot of time and embarrassment by visiting a dermatologist who will know immediately what type of dandruff you have, and exactly which product will help.
6) Rinse Thoroughly
To prevent scalp irritations, make sure you rinse out shampoo and conditioning products thoroughly.
7) Use a Clarifying Shampoo
To get the best out of deep conditioning products, use a clarifying shampoo beforehand.
Clarifying shampoos rid the hair of product build-up and make it more absorptive. This gives it more body and bounce, and allows conditioners to penetrate more deeply.
Apply a clarifying product once or twice a fortnight, and always shampoo twice.
8) Always Use a Conditioner After Shampooing
Conditioners seal the hair to give it a smooth and shiny texture, which makes it easier to comb and less susceptible to tears and breakage.
9) Use the Right Conditioner
Use a conditioner formulated for your hair type and condition.
10) Don't Let Conditioners Weigh Your Hair Down
To prevent fine hair becoming limp and flat, don't apply conditioner to the roots and crown.
11) Use a Leave-In Conditioner
For a smoother, healthier appearance, leave-in conditioners are great, especially for hair that is naturally wiry or hair that has acquired a straw-like texture through chemical damage.
12) Use a Deep Conditioner
If your hair is dry, damaged, or long, apply a hair mask or hot oil treatment at least once a month. As previously mentioned, deep conditioning is more effective if you use a clarifying shampoo beforehand.
13) Use Regular Conditioner After Deep Conditioning
Deep conditioning treatments do not seal the hair, which is why you should finish with a regular conditioner.
14) Cut Off Split Ends
If you have split ends, cut them off as soon as possible. The longer you neglect them, the further up the hair they'll travel, which means you'll eventually have to cut off much more than desired.
As a rule, it's a good idea to get your ends trimmed once every six to eight weeks.
15) Apply Castor Oil to Split Ends
The main cause of split ends is dryness, especially if hair is long. This is because scalp sebum production isn't sufficient for the entire hair length. As a preventive measure, apply castor oil or a so-called "repair" fluid to the hair ends.
Unless your hair is fragile or brittle, it's also a good idea to go through it once a day with a boar bristle brush to distribute sebum.
16) Choose the Healthiest Coloring Product Possible
Use the gentlest coloring product possible depending on your needs—the harsher it is, the more it will dry and damage your hair.
Temporary Colorants and Vegetable Dyes
The healthiest colorants are temporary products and vegetable dyes, like henna. The former is full of conditioners and lasts up to three washes. The latter leaves hair with a magnificent sheen and fades within about eight weeks, which means you won't have roots.
Use temporary colors and vegetable dyes if you want to brighten or deepen your natural color. These, however, are not suitable for covering grays.
Like temporary colorants and vegetable dyes, semi-permanent products can brighten and deepen. Apart from that, they can also darken and cover first grays, which shouldn't make up more than 20 percent of the whole head.
Semi-permanent dyes fade within about 30 washes rather than growing out, so you'll have no visible roots.
Due to hydrogen peroxide, these dyes can have a slightly drying effect.
Permanent dyes contain hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. They can brighten, lighten, deepen and darken, as well as cover any amount of gray. When the color starts to grow out, touch up the roots rather than re-dyeing the whole head; otherwise, your hair will become dull and dry.
Bleaching products are the most aggressive and can leave hair parched and brittle. Try highlights and lowlights before bleaching the whole head, and always get it done by a professional.
Drying and Styling
17) Be Gentle When Towel Drying
Don't rub when you towel dry. The friction causes hair to split and tear. Instead, pat dry or wrap in a turban.
18) Air Dry Your Hair
If you've got time, give your hair a break from heated styling devices and let it air dry.
For hair that needs a lot of styling, consider putting it up in rollers.
19) Unroll Rollers
Yanking out rollers will cause untold damage, especially if they're Velcro. Always take your time and unroll with the greatest of care.
20) Use a Blow-Dry Lotion
A blow-dry lotion protects hair from heat and reduces friction caused during styling.
21) Keep Heat to a Minimum
Don't expose hair to more heat than necessary. Hold your hair dryer at least eight inches from your head, and make sure all styling devices are set no higher than at a medium temperature.
22) Wear Your Hair Loose
Constantly pulling your hair back to a tight chignon or ponytail can cause traction alopecia (hair loss through pulling). Wear it loose whenever possible.
Combing and Brushing
23) Use a Wide Toothed Comb
The longer or thicker your hair is, the wider toothed your comb should be. And always choose one that is handmade and seamless. The seam you see on machine-made combs will tear your hair.
24) Use a Wide Toothed Comb or Detangling Brush on Wet Hair
Use only a wide toothed comb or detangling brush on wet hair, which is more fragile than dry hair.
When getting rid of tangles in either wet or dry hair, start at the ends and work towards the crown.
If possible, keep your hair from tangling by combing often.
25) The Right Round Brush
If you use a round brush when blow-drying, choose one with boar bristles. It will seal the hair, leaving it smooth and shiny, as well as prevent frizz in humid conditions.
26) Backcomb with a Teasing Brush
Backcombing is always a bad idea, but if it can't be helped, a good quality teasing brush will do less damage than a comb.
27) No Metal
To avoid tearing the hair, never use metal combs and brushes.
28) Clips, Grips, and Combs
Take care when putting hair ornaments with grips, clips, and combs into your hair, especially if they're made of metal. And never pull or tug them out. Using a leave-in conditioner, which adds a protective film to the hair, can help prevent possible damage.
29) Avoid Rubber
To avoid damaging your hair, never secure a ponytail or suchlike with a rubber band. Use textile-covered elastic instead.
Sleeping on Your Hair
30) A Smooth Pillow
Invest in a silk or satin pillowcase. Because there is no friction, it preserves shine and style so you have less work in the morning.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Jayne Lancer