Hair Care for Your Hair Type

Hair care for dry hair

Dry hair is characterised by dullness, a dry or rough feeling, split ends, frizziness, and it is often difficult to comb or brush. Dry hair is frequently caused by excessive or amateur coloring or perming, heat-assisted styling (using hair dryers, straightening tools, curling tongs, etc) and exposure to sun and chemicals. However, some people do have hair that is naturally dry.

Dry hair usually owes it's texture and dullness to raised cuticles on the hair shaft. In healthy hair, these cuticles lie flat, lending the hair a healthy sheen and making it smooth and manageable. These flat cuticles also help to keep moisture inside the hair. When cuticles are raised, the hair is more porous and moisture escapes relatively easily.

Understanding the underlying cause of dry hair is the first step towards knowing how to care for it. Do you spend a lot of time in the strong sunlight? Try using a suitable hair sunscreen or protecting your hair with a headscarf or hat during the hottest parts of the day. Do you use your hairdryer on a high temperature often? Try allowing your hair to air dry wherever possible, and when it is necessary to use your hairdryer, use it on a cooler temperature and aim it down the hair shaft (pointing down from the top of your head). This is because your hair cuticles are naturally aligned away from the scalp. Make sure you move the hairdryer around when you're using it rather than leaving it concentrated on just one section of your hair. Additionally you can use a conditioning treatment specifically designed for use with heated styling tools. A good conditioning treatment will limit the damage that they inflict.

In addition to locating and eliminating the causes of dry hair, there are many products available to sooth and care for dry hair. Your stylist will be able to recommend a suitable conditioner, mask or treatment.

Oily hair care

Oily hair needs thorough cleansing and clarifying to remove excess oil, dust and dirt which can make hair look dull, limp and lifeless.

A basic piece of oily hair care advice is valid nonetheless: you should be using a shampoo especially designed for oily hair in your hair care routine. Try to determine whether your hair is oily all over, or just at the roots, since it is entirely possible to have dry hair with an oily scalp, particularly if your hair is long. Some shampoos for oily hair might exacerbate the condition of your dry ends. If you're not sure you should talk it over with your stylist.

Only apply conditioner to the ends of your hair, and use one tailored for oily hair. Avoid brushing your hair too often or too vigorously, since brushing helps to transport oil from your roots to the ends of your hair, leaving hair limp and greasy throughout its length. Also take care to avoid frequently touching or fussing with your hair. Frequently touching your hair not only helps to shift the oil from your roots to your tips, but it can add additional oil from your hands to already greasy hair.

Products: clarifying shampoo, a light conditioner for oily hair applied to the ends of hair (not near the scalp), sebum regulating leave-in treatment (ask your stylist), mousses, hairsprays.

Care for fine hair

Occasionally people with fine hair deliberately damage their hair through color or heat treatments in the hope that it will give more volume and "stylability" to their hair.

It's true that the biggest problem for people with fine hair is the difficulty gaining volume and getting hair to hold a style, but fine hair is also much easier to damage than medium or coarse textured hair, and is twice as easy to break. Coloring and heat styling hair lifts the hair cuticles, giving the hair more volume and increasing the friction between hair follicles so that they hold a style easier, but similar effects can also be achieved through judicious use of hair product.

Volumizing products can help boost volume by coating the hair and making it appear thicker. Styling gels and mousses can be particularly helpful in styling fine hair because although they go onto the hair smooth, they then undergo a "sticky" phase, which increases hair friction and makes it easier to style, without the long lasting damage!

It is also important to use a good, lightweight conditioner as part of your hair care routine, particularly as fine hair is so prone to damage. Regular use of conditioners and styling products containing ingredients like polyquaternium, quaternium 18 and stearamidaproply dimethylamine will also help to reduce static build-up in fine, flyaway hair.

Caring for colored hair

There are commonly two major considerations for people with colored hair: Retaining the hair color and repairing damage caused during the coloring process. Fortunately many of the things you can do to keep your color vibrant also work to protect your hair from further damage, and can help to sooth some of the damage caused by the coloring process.

If possible, try to wash and rinse your hair in cool water, rather than hot. Cool water will help to close your hair cuticles, sealing in moisture and helping to retain your color.

If you wear your hair in a part, try alternating the side you wear it on so that you don't get just one section of your hair exposed to the elements. Any fading that occurs due to sun exposure will then be less concentrated and less noticeable.

If you're swimming in salt water or chlorinated pools, try to wear a swimming cap to protect your hair, otherwise rinse your hair thoroughly afterwards to remove chemical or salt water build up. The chemicals in pool water and even salt water can damage hair, strip color, and occasionally lend an unwanted tinge of color to light hair colors. Be sure to shampoo your hair as soon as possible afterwards to remove any traces of build-up.

Products: shampoo specifically formulated for coloured hair, nourishing conditioners and conditioning masks, hair sunscreen.

Damaged hair:

Hair is damaged once the cuticle of the hair (the flat scales that cover the core of the hair) are no longer flat or intact enough to provide structural integrity to the hair, leaving it vulnerable to splitting and breaking. Hair is fairly resilient but can be damaged through excessive processing, perming, coloring, heat exposure, back-combing and general roughness. The bad news is that once hair is significantly damaged, you can't repair it. Hair is essentially dead once it leaves your scalp, and doesn't have the capacity to heal itself once it has been damaged. The best course of action in most circumstances is to simply cut it off, although you may be able to soothe some of the damage with hair product until the hair is of acceptable length to cut without too much embarrassment. Intensive hair conditioners and masks may help by coating the hair follicle with ingredients to smooth over the cuticles and seal in some moisture. But remember � the last thing you should do is try to correct the damage through further coloring, perming or heat treatment!

Ultimately, the best (if not immediately helpful) advice for damaged hair is to prevent it through the use of a good conditioner and careful use of the more aggressive styling products and techniques.