Understanding the role of hair and scalp care
Keisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer
MANY MEN and women will develop pattern hair loss during their lifetimes. The pathophysiology of many hair-thinning disorders has been well documented and treatment options, although not entirely guaranteed, have been developed. One of the easiest ways to help prevent most causes of pattern hair loss and encourage the growth of transplanted hair follicles is by maintaining a normal, healthy scalp and hair.
According to Treacha Reid, cosmetologist and trichologist, scalp skin can be viewed as a variant of normal skin in that it has an epidermis and dermis, but it also has a greater concentration of large, terminal hair follicles.
“It is well known that the hair follicle has a growth cycle that can be altered by hormones, medications, diet, illness and many other factors. Volumes have been published regarding hair growth and the hair follicle, dermal papillae and germinal centre,” Reid said.
“It would appear that the health of the hair, scalp epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue is related to good nutrition and hair care products, which can play a major role in hair growth, hair shaft thickness and the survival and growth of normal as well as transplanted follicular units,” Reid added.
The majority of people’s scalps can cope with just about any product. However, product will work its way down the hair shaft to the scalp, so products that have ingredients that block or suffocate the scalp from breathing are not recommended.
“Look for ingredients ending in ‘cones’ (the silicones, dimethicones, trimethicones), which are added to make hair feel softer, suppler and more moisturised, but they are molecularly heavy and will block the scalp. Known irritants would be another thing to avoid – things like heavy hold sticky gels, mousses or hairsprays with a high alcohol content – could cause extreme dryness to the scalp,” Reid said.
DEAD SKIN CELLS
“The scalp is protected, in most cases, by a head of hair. If you do not brush, wash or blow-dry your hair regularly, then the dead skin cells build-up, coupled with sweat and natural oil production, will lead to an overloaded scalp area.
“We maintain the skin on our face with lotions and potions, yet tend to ignore the scalp. My recommendation is an exfoliant once or twice weekly in cases where you are trying to clear built-up scalp debris. Look for something consisting of finely ground textures such as crushed shell or salt, and apply to a wet scalp as a film of water will act as a carrier for the product. Use small, circular motions with your fingers to gently massage the exfoliant into your scalp, just as you would with a facial exfoliant,” Reid said.
Hair might sound simple, but like any other human characteristic, it is not. You get different types of hair and different textures, and you could have two types of hair at the roots and the ends. To know how to best look after your hair, you will have to know what kind of hair you have, and these are characterised by the thickness and feel of one strand of hair, overall thickness, the shape of one strand of hair and overall strand texture.
“The cause of hair texture and type is mainly genetics. The DNA in our hair will determine whether we have straight, wavy, curly, or coily hair. Some instances, like pregnancy with hormonal changes, might lead to a change in hair texture and type, but this can be temporary or permanent,” Reid said.
Some might use heat and chemical products to try and modify their hair texture and type, but the DNA in your roots will always be there.
It is essential that the follicle and the scalp, at point of exit, are clean, clear, healthy and maintained; follicles that are full of sebum or blocked by dead skin, dandruff or infection will have an impact on the quality of hair growth.
“In fact, permanently blocked or obstructed follicles may eventually cease to produce hair at all. The scalp is made up of cells which divide and continually work their way to the surface and then shed as such, it is essential that dead skin is removed by brushing or washing, but also by weekly exfoliation,” Reid said.
Many people opt for daily washing and, provided that correct moisture is applied, the hair and scalp should be fine. Some people prefer not to wash their hair at all, but the basic facts above allude to the fact that regular washing is better to protect their scalp and hair.
TYPES OF HAIR TEXTURE
There are many theories out there, but the most logical and understandable one is that there are hair types that categorise your hair into a curl pattern. Then, apart from that, you have different hair textures or structures that fall into three types.
Some of these textures are more common with specific hair types.
• FINE HAIR TEXTURE
Fine hair is one of the hair textures that can be great or dreaded, depending on how much hair you have. The strands might appear thin, but there is a difference between thin hair and fine hair. Fine hair is the structure of each strand, and thin hair is the amount of hair.
Fine hair is sensitive and doesn’t go well with frequent styling and harsh chemicals. It can easily break and lose its shine. Use a conditioner and fine bristle comb to get the natural oils to the ends. Type 1 hair is most likely to have this texture.
• MEDIUM HAIR TEXTURE
Medium hair texture is the most common hair structure between fine and coarse. The medium texture is also great for styling as it is a bit more durable than fine hair but still gives a shiny look. The medium textured hair can be partnered with any of the hair types.
If you have medium-textured hair, you should invest in a detoxing agent to clear your scalp from pollutants and build-ups that can cause dryness and dullness.
• COARSE HAIR TEXTURE
Coarse hair defines strands that are thicker in diameter. Rubbing a strand between your fingers will be more prominent than fine hair you cannot feel. Any hair type can have a coarse texture, but manipulating coarse hair is almost impossible.
As coarse hair has a thicker hair shaft that needs nutrition, the natural oils our scalp produce is not enough. Thus, coarse hair can quickly become dry and result in split ends. To look after coarse hair, you must introduce moisturising agents and leave-in products to keep your hair smooth and nourished.
• CURL PATTERNS OF HAIR
The types of hair are actually only different ways the hair curl. The four types go from straight to the most coily spiral possible. Each class has subdivisions to define the type better.
SOURCE: Dermatology Learning Network