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Hair Health – 10 Questions Answered

What makes hair break? Each year, a typical client’s hair is subjected to six in-salon chemical treatments, 150 blow-dries, 5475 brush strokes and 115 pony tails. With all this activity it’s no wonder the hair fibre weakens and deteriorates, leading to eventual breakage and split ends. Seasonal changes often affect hair: air conditioning and central heating, and the drying effect of the beach or pool can all contribute to breakage.

How are split ends caused? Over-brushing and also back-combing because it disturbs the cuticle (the hard, shingle like layer of overlapping cells, made up of dead cells which form scales to give the hair shaft strength and protection). Brushing hair when wet (as opposed to combing) stretches hair by up to 25%, leaving it vulnerable.

What is the best way to treat split ends? When towel-drying your hair don’t be too vigorous, don’t use elastic bands when tying hair up (only ‘scrunchies’ or ‘covered’ bands). Keep hair well-conditioned, dry hair splits faster. Having regular trims every 6 – 8 weeks gets rid of those dead ends. Also try using the correct products when treating your hair.

What is the best way to get rid of tangles? You should never brush wet hair, but instead use a wide toothed comb. If it’s really knotted, add some leave in conditioner to the ends and gently loosen the knots with the comb, starting at the bottom and working up to the roots.

How do you keep hair glossy in the sun? The best way is to shield hair with a hat or scarf, which also protects against the effects of tangle-triggering sea breezes. If you swim in the pool or the sea, rinse your hair in fresh water first and again when you emerge. Ideally, use one of the many SPF hair products that are now on the market – oils, lotions and serums which do for wet hair what SPF’s do for your skin. If you don’t have any handy, smoothing a little of your facial or body sun product through your hair is better than no protection at all!

Is there any quick way to add volume when hair has gone flat? A great instant fix is to ruffle a little bit of talcum powder through the roots. It is an alternative to dry shampoo to soak up any moisture and restore volume instantly.

How often should we wash our hair? The natural oils of the scalp keep hair looking healthy, so don’t wash them down the drain. Shampoo every other day (max), unless you have super-fine hair or an oily scalp. Dry shampoos, meanwhile have improved enormously and can be great for tiding you over between (wet) shampoos.

What is the most important thing we can do to improve hair condition? Lay off the blow-dryers, hair curlers, and straightners (heat is public enemy number 1!) Ruffle-dry hair (or air-dry it if you have time) until it is 75% dry, then reach for the hairdryer for final styling. If you use heated straightners, it is really worth investing in a heat protecting product – and again, don’t use the straightners until the final stages of drying/styling, as they can literally ‘boil’ the water in the hair shaft.

Is it possible to assess hair damage yourself? Yes. Firstly do an elasticity test: pluck one hair from your head, pull it tightly from one end, and let go. If the hair doesn’t spring right back, that’s a sign that is has lost elasticity and could break if subjected to additional heat or chemical treatments like dying/perms. Check your brush: hair that breaks off at the root (you’ll see the white bulb at one end) is normal; hair that cracks mid-way down the shaft, however is not. If the damage is extensive, you’ll be losing much more than the average 50-100 hairs a day. Last but not least, damaged hair dries faster as it is more porous. If your hair is medium-thick and it takes less than an hour to air-dry it is in trouble. Regular treatments will help repair the damage.

Why do we go grey? Sadly, as we age, the pigment producing cells which add colour to our hair die off slowly, and individual hairs appear white. When mixed in with strands of hair that still have the original shade, hair looks grey – something that generally starts by the age of 40, although grey hairs can appear when people are in their 20’s or even teens.

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