I want shiny and voluminous locks that I can run my fingers through and flip over my shoulders like they do in the commercials. We all want that commercial ready hair. And though it may seem like the road to perfect hair seems impossible or dream-like (…or expensive), we’re here to tell you that it’s actually cost effective and easy! Here are some tips from Dr. Prystowsky on how to keep your hair healthy (plus some signs that’ll help you know when your hair is in distress).
Dry or Brittle Hair
If your hair is dry or brittle, it may be an indication that you’ve been exposing your hair to too many chemicals and it’s time to stop. Dying your hair frequently by using bleaching products, for example, is a prominent cause of dry or brittle hair. Swimming in salty or chlorinated water for extended periods of time can also dry out and weaken your hair – so look out especially in the summer!
Dr. P recommends using a cream rinse after your shower to help decrease tangles. Then she says, “Gently comb. If you comb too harshly, especially without a cream rinse, you may damage your hair.”
Is your scalp a flake? If you don’t wash your hair frequently, that might be the reason your scalp is feeling and looking flaky. If this is the case, go to your local pharmacy or supermarket and pick up dandruff shampoo to help make the flakiness go away. Use the dandruff shampoo for your first wash and a milder shampoo for the second, says Dr. Prystowsky. Once it’s under control you may be able to cut back on the medicated shampoo. You can start using regular shampoo, washing your hair once every day or two.
If your flaky scalp won’t go away, you may have psoriasis or another skin disorder. If so, dandruff shampoo may not be enough! If eczema is your problem, a dandruff shampoo will not help. Dr. P says, “consider washing your hair less often. A baby shampoo will also be gentler on your scalp.”
Don’t be too sure your flaky hair is a harmless issue, either. A fungal infection, yeast infection, or even skin cancer can also cause flakiness. If this is the case, Dr. P says you should contact your dermatologist for a unique treatment plan that works for you.
Greased Lightning, No Greased Lightning! During periods of hormonal fluctuation (like puberty), your sweat and sebum production may kick into overdrive. If your hair is feeling greasy, start shampooing more often. Nothing else to it.
Poor Hair Growth
Feeling jealous of Rapunzel lately? There are many causes of slow hair growth or hair loss – some more serious than others.
Hair loss may be caused by adverse reactions to chemicals in certain products! Just like any other product coming into contact with your skin, hair care products may contain allergens or irritants that can disrupt skin function and also cause hair loss. Similarly, like any other product: Read directions and ingredients carefully to make sure that you use your products safely.
Stress can also result in unwanted hair loss. The condition is called telogen effluvium and is common for women after delivering their baby. It may also occur after surgery. This condition is temporary, however, and usually resolves itself within six months of the stressful experience.
Friction and tension may also cause hair loss! If you’re hair is up too tight in a ponytail or bun, for example, traction alopecia can cause permanent hair loss in the areas under the most tension. Friction alopecia occurs when an object or clothing material constantly rubs across your hair. Bikers may have this where their helmet rubs their head. Newborns may also have friction alopecia if they are always sleeping on their back.
If your hair develops patches of white color or light pigment hair, then you may be suffering from severe protein deficiency. This condition is called “flag sign” hair, and should not be confused with a patch of hair that is white from root to tip, says Dr. Prystowsky.
Severe vitamin deficiency can also slow hair growth. If this is the case, figure out what vitamins you’re lacking in your daily diet or routine. Many people run straight to biotin supplements since a link was found between biotin and hair growth. However, Dr. P says, “This won’t help too much, considering almost nobody is biotin deficient. A shampoo with vitamins in it won’t help either. If you are truly vitamin deficient, a doctor can help you figure out how to supplement your diet.”
Hair loss may also be a sign of a more serious condition. Hair that easily breaks off could be the result of a rare genetic disorder, for example. Another possibility is alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes coined-shape areas of baldness and requires steroids to be reversed. Secondary syphilis is another thing to look out for as it causes what appears to be moth-eaten hair loss. This stage of syphilis will come after primary syphilis, which typically involves genital lesions.
Long hair, short hair, beach hair, whatever hair – DO care!