By Arusha Campbell-Chambers, skin, hair & nail healh
Many persons experience hair damage and even hair loss as a result of the things that we do to our hair. Frequent tight hairstyles, improper use of chemical products, frequent use of heating and drying implements and even the way we wash and comb our hair may cause hair breakage, thinning and/or bald patches to develop or worsen.
Here are 15 tips that can help us reduce damage to our hair:
1 Gently comb and brush hair to style it. Use a wide-tooth comb and gently release tangled hairs, using a detangling hair product if necessary.
2 Avoid tight braids, tight cornrows, tight locks and tight ponytails. Braids should not be left in longer than six to eight weeks at a time.
3 If wearing weaves, choose those that are light and not tightly applied. They should ideally not be left in for longer than two to three months at a time.
4 Choose shampoos and conditioners suitable to your hair type: e.g., chemically treated, anti-dandruff.
5 Individuals with naturally straight hair, oily scalps, or short hairstyles may wash their hair daily. Individuals with dry hair or chemically treated hair may wash hair less often, for example, once a week, but not less often than every two weeks.
6 Shampoos should be applied directly to the scalp, followed by gentle massaging. When rinsing, let the shampoo flow through the hair and avoid rubbing it into the hair.
7 Always follow shampooing with a conditioner, unless one is using a two-in-one shampoo. Some conditioners should be rinsed out, while others may be leave-in conditioners.
8 Before swimming, you can wet hair and apply a conditioner to protect it. When swimming, a swim cap should be worn. After swimming, hair should be rinsed then washed ideally with swimmers' shampoo and then a deep conditioner.
9 Hair may be wrapped in a towel after washing. Avoid excessive rubbing of hair with towel.
10 It is best to air dry hair. However, if a drier is used, the hooded drier is less traumatic to hair than direct blow-drying. Use the lowest heat setting when using dryers, curling irons, flat irons or hot combs. Try not to use these more often than once a week. Heat-protecting products can also help. Avoid products with a long-lasting hold.
11 When choosing hair moisturisers, look for those containing dimethicone or silicone. Products with ingredients like petrolatum, lanolin and mineral oil should be avoided or used minimally. Daily uses of these oily products directly on the scalp without frequent washing may cause or worsen various scalp conditions and acne on the forehead and temples.
12 A satin pillowcase or hair cover can reduce hair breakage when sleeping.
13 Chemical relaxers, hair dyes and permanent waves may damage hair if applied incorrectly. They should only be applied to new growth at six- to eight-week intervals. Individuals with chemical hair damage should avoid these chemicals or limit their use to eight to 12 weeks apart.
14 Maintain a healthy diet with adequate intake of protein, iron and vitamins to promote healthy hair growth. Biotin supplements have been reported to help hair growth.
15 Consult your dermatologist if you are experiencing hair loss or other scalp and hair problems that bother you. A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specialises in the treatment of skin, hair and nail disorders.
Dr Arusha Campbell-Chambers is a dermatologist and founder of Dermatology Solutions Skin Clinics & Medi-Spas; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.