While most people have hair, surprisingly few people know how to properly take care of their precious locks. When you see someone with a gorgeous head of hair, you might wonder how you can get your own hair to look so great.
Good hair is not random. With proper hair care, anyone can have healthy, attractive hair that enhances their appearance. Unfortunately, with so many hair tutorials and advertisements, it’s challenging to determine which advice is accurate.
The key to good hair care is to use quality ingredients, have a thorough washing routine, and avoid damage.
1. Ingredients Matter
The ingredients in your products make a huge difference in how your hair looks. Many hair brands use ingredients that provide short-term results, rather than long-term hair health.
For example, many shampoos contain sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. Sulfates such as these will create a big lather, stripping all of the oils from your scalp and roots.
While these sulfates technically cleanse your hair, they are also far too harsh, stripping healthy, natural oils from your hair and making your scalp dry and irritated. Unless you have a particular scalp condition, stick to gentle cleansers without sulfates.
Ingredients are also important for hair conditioners and styling products. Silicones are arguably the most problematic ingredient in hair styling products. Silicones, such as dimethicone or amodimethicone, make your hair feel soft and moisturized.
However, silicones sit on top of your hair strands, creating the sensation of moisture without truly nourishing your hair. Silicones are difficult to wash off and can build up on your scalp, causing skin irritation and interfering with healthy hair growth.
Look for hair products with plant-based ingredients, such as aloe or tea tree oil. If you aren’t sure whether the ingredients in a product will work well for your hair, do a quick internet search before using it.
2. Understand Your Hair Type
You won’t know how to properly care for your hair until you understand your hair type. Hair can vary greatly in many aspects, including texture, density, and porosity. The traits of your hair will determine how you should wash and style your hair.
The texture is the most obvious hair characteristic. Human hair can range from completely straight strands to extremely tight coils. Curly hair is often sensitive to dryness and prone to frizz and breakage. On the other hand, straight hair can get quite oily between washes.
Density and coarseness are also relevant factors when taking care of your hair. Density refers to how much hair is on your head, while coarseness refers to the thickness of each strand of hair. For example, you can have dense hair, but each strand is extremely thin and delicate.
You can also investigate your hair porosity. The more porous your hair, the quicker it absorbs water and styling products. Your porosity can impact how much product your hair needs. Test your hair porosity by placing a strand of hair in a cup of water and observing how much it floats versus sinks. The deeper your hair sinks, the more porous it is.
3. Shampooing is for Your Scalp
Shampooing all of your hair is a common washing mistake. Shampoo should only go on your scalp and the roots of your hair. The ends of your hair are already drier than your roots, and shampoo could dry them out too much.
When you wash your hair, massage the shampoo into your scalp, gently rubbing your head to remove dirt and excess oil. Remember to only use your fingertips, not your nails, to rub your scalp. When you use your fingernails to scratch your scalp you can cut your skin or pull out your hair.
Bonus tip: conditioner is for the strands of your hair, not the scalp. After you rinse out your shampoo, follow up by combing the conditioner through your hair. Focus on the dry ends of your hair and avoid your roots, which already have plenty of natural oil from your scalp.
4. Don’t Use Hot Water
Hot showers are a great way to relax, but be sure to turn the temperature down before getting your hair wet. Your scalp and hair are both quite sensitive, and extreme heat can cause irritation or damage.
You can use warm water while you wash your hair and then use cold water for a final rinse. While the cold water won’t be comfortable, it will close up the hair shaft, ensuring that all the nutrients from your conditioner will stay absorbed in your hair.
5. Detangle Your Hair from the Bottom Up
Detangle your hair from the bottom up to minimize breakage. Begin with your brush or comb at the ends of your hair, gradually starting your brushstrokes higher up on your head as the ends become less tangled. If you start detangling from root to end, you are more likely to hit a large knot and accidentally rip out hair.
Folks with dense or curly hair may need to use a detangling spray or conditioner to detangle their hair without breakage. Some people with curly hair only comb out their hair when it is wet and covered with conditioner.
6. Avoid Heat
Don’t use heat-styling tools every day. Regularly using heat will lead to dry, burnt, and frizzy hair. Instead of using heat to style your hair, try experimenting with your natural hair texture. With the right styling products and air-drying techniques, you can create various attractive looks.
When you do use heat styling tools, prepare your hair with a heat protectant. Heat protectants come in the form of sprays or creams. These products can minimize the damaging effects of heat. Coat all of your hair with a heat protectant before applying your other hair products.
7. Protect Your Hair When Your Sleep
Last but not least, protect your hair when you sleep. When you sleep with your hair down, your hair will get tangled and messy. Furthermore, the heat and friction from lying down on your hair all night damage your hair the same way a heat-styling tool would.
Before you go to bed, use a satin scrunchie to put your hair in a loose high ponytail or bun. You want your hair to be off your neck and the back of your head without being pulled too tightly. Satin is a soft material that won’t break your hair or cause frizz. You can also cover your hair with a satin bonnet and use a satin pillowcase.
Proper hair care is easy once you understand the basics of what your hair needs. As long as you keep your scalp clean and your ends moisturized, you can have a gorgeous, shiny, healthy head of hair.