With the new DIY wave, many women are doing everything themselves and when they decide to visit a salon, they may be unaware of how damaged their hair is. The primary complaints I encounter in the salon setting from women who have not visited a salon in a while, especially after going natural are “My hair is dry;” or “My hair is not growing.”
When women feel like their hair is not growing, I explain the hair will always grow as long as they are living. If they feel as if their hair is not growing past a certain length, or the hair is breaking, and we have to investigate why. I have found these complaints are often a result of the misuse of conditioners or heat styling tools that can create different forms of damage.
When a client complains about dry hair, I immediately ask about their current hair care regimen. The most commonly misused or overused products are moisturizing conditioners and leave-in conditioners. Leave-in conditioners were designed as a “quick fix,” meaning they should be incorporated into your hair care regimen when you don’t have time to deep condition your hair.
There are different types of hydrolyzed proteins found in leave-in conditioners that are designed to increase the hair’s strength, flexibility, and shine. When leave-in conditioners are used on a regular basis you may find that the hair feels dry and brittle. This is because the hair is predominantly made of protein that provides the hair with strength and structure. When you apply too much protein on the hair it causes the hair to harden. As a result, the hair feels dry and when manipulated i for styling, breaks easily. Therefore, leave-in conditioners should only be used occasionally.
The other extreme is the over-conditioning of hair with moisturizing or softening conditioners. It is important to deep condition your hair on a regular basis to maintain a proper moisture balance. Deep conditioning is the process of applying a moisturizing conditioner to the hair, distributing evenly with the use of a wide tooth comb or brush and incorporating the use of steam or heat for at least 10-30 minutes for deeper penetration of essential proteins and moisturizers into the hair shaft. The misconception many people have about conditioner is that if they leave it on longer than the recommended time their hair will get more benefits. This is not true. The hair can become deficient of the structural protein it requires to stay strong. The result will be limp, weak hair that will stretch and eventually break.
Most women who choose to wear their hair in its curly state don’t use heat styling tools. If they do, it’s very minimal use of a blow dryer. The mistakes some women make when using a blow dryer are not protecting the hair from the heat with light essential oils or making the blow dryer too hot.
Each shaft of the hair has about 7 to 12 layers of cuticle scales. Their job is to protect the inside of the shaft, known as the cortex. Excessive use of heat will create cracks and damage to the cuticle. The damage caused by heat styling includes blistering and fracturing of the hair. Microscopic examination of the hair shows small nodes seen as grey-white or yellow specks on the affected hair shafts. The hair tends to break at the sites of the nodes, leading to patchy breakage.
These are common at home practices that can cause damage to the hair, but you can take some steps to prevent the damage. Remember:
- Change your hair styling routine. Limit the use of heated instruments on and use on lower settings.
- Apply heat protectants-when using any form of heat for an added barrier of protection and prevention of breakage.
- Don’t over condition.One of the main sources of hair damage is dryness. The regular use of leave-in conditioners causes the hair shaft to become dry, brittle and susceptible to breakage. Use a moisturizing shampoo and deep conditioner. When conditioning on at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes and incorporate steam or heat for deeper penetration of the hair shaft.
Most importantly, occasionally visit a licensed hair stylist that you trust to provide you with information on how you can improve your routine at home and offer you in-salon treatments that will enhance the health of your hair.