Every hair type - from the thickest and most coarse, to the thinnest and most fine - has its own unique assets, problems, and hence, needs. The diameter of a human hair ranges greatly, from 17 - 180 microns, which accounts for the vast and obvious differences we encounter every day amongst our peers and associates. What may not be obvious is the love/hate relationship people have with their own hair. If you have fine-textured hair, you most likely, at some point in your life, have cried out in frustration, "Ahhh, I hate my hair!" Fine hair tends to fall flat halfway through the day, overall it lacks body and won't hold a style, and it is more easily damaged than sturdier types. On the up-side, fine-textured hair is usually innately silky, smooth, and soft. Finding the balance between silky a flat can be challenging.
I, too, have fine hair (I just bet I'm one of those with a measly 17-micron-diameter shaft!) And, I admit, I've spent considerable time - not to mention money - trying to discover the best methods and styles, products and procedures to manage my feathery tresses. One thing is for sure: fine hair needs a little TLC to keep it looking healthy, full of life, and beautiful. Following, you'll find some hair care tips to hopefully put you and your hair back into a loving relationship. Instead of growling "I hate my hair!" you'll be cooing "I love it!" in no time.
Hair Care Tips to Cleanse & Condition
- Try using sulfate-free shampoo. Although the jury's still out, there is some evidence - and plenty of personal testimonials - that sulfates dry out your hair and may cause thinning and hair loss.
- Shampoo less frequently. This is often the conundrum for people with fine and/or thin hair: do you shampoo daily and risk dry, brittle hair? or, skip a day or two and risk looking like an oil slick? Well, actually, there is no reason to have to choose. You can train your hair to be less oily with these three steps: 1. On alternate days, use a light conditioner in place of your shampoo. 2. Let the conditioner sit on your hair three minutes before rinsing well with warm-ish water, followed by a cool or cold water rinse. 3. Gradually increase the interval between shampoos, so that you only need to use shampoo once a week (or less). Remember, your hair can be cleansed without necessarily being shampooed. Chronicallyoily hair is propagated by excessive stripping of the natural secretion of oil...the sole purpose of which is to lubricate the hair shaft! When you take too much away, more oil is made to come to the rescue.
"If you wash your hair every day, you're removing the sebum," explains Michelle Hanjani, a dermatologist at Columbia University. "Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil," she says. (quoted on npr) Oil production should normalize when you stop trying to obliterate it (unless you have a medical condition to the contrary).
- Rinse thoroughly, but gently. This is very, very important. When your shampoo and conditioner are not fully rinsed out, then, well...they're still in your hair, along with the dirt and grime that you're are trying to remove. Never use hot water on your hair and scalp. If you cannot tolerate cold water, start out with warmish-ish water and end with a tepid or cool water final rinse. Remember to handle your hair gently, as it is in a weaker state when wet, and more prone to damage or breakage. Think "silk"...and lavish your hair with the same respect you give your delicate undergarments. photo
- Choose a conditioner that won't weigh down your hair, but do use some type of conditioning agent so you won't risk breaking your hair when trying to comb through it. A diluted vinegar solution will add shine and restore pH levels to your hair, but you might need to apply something more "slippery" - such as a leave in conditioning spray - to get through the tangles after.
- Leave a wide-toothed comb in the shower; comb through any tangles before you rinse your conditioner.
- Blot or squeeze excess water from your hair, but don't rub with a towel, as this will roughen the cuticle.
Hair Care Tips for Styling
- You will likely need to use a little product - mousse, root lifter or a light gel - to boost volume and get your hair to hold its style. But only use a little product, otherwise it can have the opposite effect. Avoid hair spray whenever possible, as it leaves a nasty residue which is difficult to cleanse. Remember: When the wind blows, your hair should move, also!
- Try blow-drying your hair upside-down, using a large round brush. Or, a diffuser attachment works well, also; just flip hair upside-down and scrunch it. I have found that ionic blow dryers eliminate most static electricity, minimizing the "fly-aways"
- Another hair-friendly method to add bounce and volume is to set damp hair (not wet hair, as the sections will show after its dry) on large rollers.
- Don't pull your hair back too tightly, as it can impede circulation, as well as make hair look thin. Instead, pile hair loosely in a "messy bun", which will make it appear fuller.
- Gently brush hair 100 times before bed to distribute the oil from your scalp throughout the lengths, and stimulate scalp circulation. A nylon-ball-tipped paddle brush or soft natural bristle brush both work great for this.
- Adding a few highlights or lowlights will give hair the appearance of more dimension and volume, and is generally less damaging than all-over color...but remember...
- Do not over-process your hair, or it will hate you back! Never use two chemical treatments simultaneously in your hair (e.g. color and perm), and try to limit the frequency of processing. The lyrics in The Sunscreen Song say it best: "Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85."
So there you have it...lots of ideas to help banish those hateful, bad-hair days. When your hair behaves, you'll be a whole lot happier, too!
© June 2011 Sharla Smith. All original content of the author, unless otherwise noted.