For some, long, flowing, voluminous hair is a staple of beauty. For others, shorter lengths give them confidence and and an edge that makes them feel as if they can conquer the world. It all depends on the person, but we all can probably come to this consensus: split ends, frizz, and dull hair lacking movement (better known as "body") is a no-no.
“Hair myths, such as brushing your hair one hundred strokes each day, can cause split ends,” said board-certified dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani, MD, FAAD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. “Having healthy hair is possible if you know how to care for your hair before and after styling.”
The American Academy of Dermatology knows all about great hair. Here are a few tips to help keep your hair in a healthy state by preventing damage and even worse, hair loss. Dr. Mirmirani recommends:
- Dry your hair by wrapping it in a towel after a shower or bath. Another alternative is letting your hair air-dry. (If you have curly hair, a way to keep in moisture and avoid frizz is to wrap in a cotton t-shirt. Sometimes the material of a towel can rub too hard on hair, leading to raised cuticles which can further affect damaged hair.)
- Most people should handle wet hair as little as possible as wet hair breaks more easily when combed or brushed. However, people with tightly curled or textured hair should brush their hair when wet to decrease the chances of hair breakage. (Always make sure to go section by section. Don't comb directly from roots to tip as the tension further along the hair shaft can weaken follicles. Hold your hair about an inch or two from where you are combing out tangles to lessen the pressure on the roots.)
- Keep brushing to minimum. Brushing your hair 100 strokes each day can cause split ends.
- Reduce the use of “long-lasting hold” styling products. Using a comb to style your hair after you apply the product can cause the hair to break and can lead to hair loss over time. (the alcohols and other heavy ingredients in some hair care products actually weaken the protein levels in the hair strand over time. Keep styling products to a minimum and make sure to clarify at least once a month to avoid product build up.)
- Allow your hair to partially air dry before you style or comb. Decreasing the number of times per week that you blow dry also helps limit damage. (Too much heat dries out the hair which can lead to breakage.)
- Flat irons should be used on dry hair on a low or medium heat setting, no more often than every other day. If you use a curling iron, only leave it in place for a second or two. No matter your hair type, excessive heat can damage your hair. (Make sure to use a heat protectant serum or oil.)
- Do not continuously wear braids, cornrows, ponytails and hair extensions. These styles pull on the hair and can cause tension that leads to breakage. If the tension continues, permanent hair loss can develop. (If you braid your hair, make sure to also apply moisture to your natural hair. Ponytails and extensions can be great protective styles, but don't neglect your hair regime and make sure to give your scalp time to breathe.)
It is normal to shed hair (white bulb on root) on average you can lose 50-100 hairs per day. Any hair strand that doesn't have a bulb is a broken hair strand and if you are losing more hair than usual, re-evaluate products and styling. If the problem persists, Dr. Mirmirani suggests, "If you have questions or concerns about caring for your hair, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist."