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General Hair Care

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Healthy luscious locks may come naturally to some, but most individuals must strive to maintain an enviable mane. Achieving the desired color, texture, cut, or specific style of hair takes effort. Fortunately, there are numerous hair care products available that can help treat a myriad of hair woes.

The Foundation of Healthy Hair

The health of your scalp is the source of healthy hair. Even if you weren't born with thick glossy strands, a healthy scalp will help accentuate the beauty of any hair type. Unfortunately, environmental and dietary deficiencies can affect scalp health. You might be surprised to learn that what you eat is every bit as important for healthy hair as the shampoo you use.

Many upscale hair care lines are manufacturing nutritional supplements that are packed with vitamins and essential fatty acids; ingredients that may promote hair growth and a healthy scalp. Shampoos with harsh detergents affect sensitive scalps negatively, causing redness and inflammation.

There is more than one type of dandruff. Dry flaky dandruff is a little different from the waxy, oily plaque displayed by seborrhea sicca. The first type of dandruff may be caused by a scalp irritation and styling product buildup. Dry weather is also a culprit. However, should you suffer from seborrhea sicca, overly active sebaceous glands are to blame.

Shampoo

Choosing a shampoo that is right for your scalp and hair type can be a challenge. When you factor in the thickness of your hair and the oily or dry tendencies of your scalp, it can be somewhat easier to navigate the shampoo aisle. Volumizing, moisturizing, color-treated, fortifying, nourishing, and clarifying are among the many labels you will see on shampoo bottles. The trick is understanding your precise needs.

For example, just because your hair is color treated, that doesn't mean that a shampoo designed for color-treated hair is right for you. Your hair may be more damaged from repeated colorings than the average individual with color-treated hair. In such cases, you may need to alternate a color-treated shampoo with a protein-packed fortifying formula. These products can lead to buildup, so a clarifying shampoo might be necessary on a weekly or bi-monthly basis.

Scalp Exfoliants

Another hair care product that has only recently arrived on the hair scene is a scalp exfoliant. These products are used to cleanse the scalp specifically of buildup without stripping the hair shaft-a problem common to clarifying shampoos. Phlip Kingsley and L'Oreal are two of many hair care lines that manufacture such items under the labels of "Scalp Tonic", "Scalp Treatment", and "Scalp Mask."

Washing Frequency

There are many hair care myths regarding the question of how often you should wash your hair. For the longest time, certain stylists have touted the idea that hair should not be washed on a daily basis. This may be true for individuals with dry healthy scalps, but for persons with more oily scalps, such washing habits may only encourage build up. You should wash your hair as often as your hair and scalp type dictate.

Oily scalps accompanied by fine hair will produce dull, limp, and lifeless hair without daily washing. Dry scalps will only encourage dry, broken strands if they are washed too frequently. However, if you have an unhealthy scalp accompanied by dry parched hair, daily washings may aid the first problem while exacerbating the latter. The trick is to combine your shampoo with a quality conditioner in order to control dryness while promoting fresh clean hair follicles.

Choosing Your Conditioner

Not everyone needs conditioner. At least not everyone needs conditioner with every washing. Unprocessed, non-heat styled, normal and straight hair types may get by with a moisturizing shampoo. A weekly deep conditioner helps to combat any environmental elements that can threaten a soft hair texture.

Conditioner is wonderful for sealing the hair cuticle temporarily, but it does encourage buildup. Over time, your conditioner may leave your hair dull and lifeless. Clarifying shampoos help to neutralize this effect, but every individual must evaluate her own hair needs. Some people need daily or every-other-day conditionings. Others need daily conditionings and weekly deep conditioning or hot oil treatments. A fortunate few will rarely need to employ a conditioner.

Styling Products and Techniques

Your hair style will also affect the health of your hair. If you enjoy flat irons and blow dryers on a regular basis, it is unlikely that you will get by without frequent conditionings. Add hair color into the mix and you will almost definitely require a weekly protein mask to repair any cuticle damage. Heat styling irritates the hair shaft which is why products such as glossing, smoothing, and anti-frizz serums/creams can be a boon to an overly processed head of hair.

There are a myriad of products such as shine sprays and serums that employ ingredients like silicone to re-smooth the hair cuticle. You may also need to use a heat-protectant spray to mitigate the damage caused by heat styling.

Proper Combing and Grooming Technique

How you brush or comb your hair also has a profound effect on hair health.

Brushing Wet Hair

Never brush hair when it is wet. Wet hair is much more vulnerable than dry hair. Water that fills the hair shaft makes the hair more elastic and prone to breakage. Wet or generally weak hair should always be combed with a wide tooth comb. Fine or fragile hair is handled best with wide combs and soft brushes. Boar bristle brushes are excellent for styling strong stalwart strands, but they may be too intense for damaged or color-treated hair.

Working Through Tangles

Tangled hair is always a challenge. Be sure to comb tangles out starting first at the bottom. Once the ends of your hair have been freed of snags and tangles, you can free tangles from the mid-section and eventually the crown. This method may seem counterintuitive, but starting from the top will move higher tangles into the lower tangled sections, creating large snarled masses. You may need to employ a spray detangler to facilitate the process.

Personalized Hair Care

Caring for hair is an extremely individualized field. Every person's biochemistry is unique, so finding the products that work best for you and learning their proper usage can become a never ending saga. Some people find it best to alternate between a group of workable products. This fights the buildup of just one or two products. Fortunately, products desgined for hair is also an exciting field that evolves as technology increases.

The shampoos of today are constantly being improved upon. Focusing on a healthy diet to enhance your hair health is an important step toward an optimal head of hair. Supplementing with the appropriate shampoos, and styling products will provide the finishing touches.

General Hair Care