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Hair Care

Should I shampoo my hair daily?

Probably not. Most people over-shampoo their hair, which only washes away the natural oils that help give it shine. Shampooing every other day is a good schedule for most people. If your hair looks oily when you wake up, go ahead and clean it. Despite directions on labels to rinse and repeat, you only need to wash once.

Do I need a conditioner?

If you have normal or dry hair, its a good idea to use a conditioner every time you shampoo. But if your hair is on the oily side, you may want to skip the conditioner on every other wash.

When choosing a conditioner, texture matters. For fine or thin hair, look for a conditioner that claims to add body and prevent tangles. Extra-thick or curly hair will respond best to a heavier, leave-in conditioner.

Combination shampoo and conditioners may seem like a convenient option, but they don't generally don't clean or condition as well as products applied separately. On the upside, they will make hair easy to comb.

What other hair care products should I use?

If you want more volume and shine than you could get from shampoo or conditioner alone, you might want to add other products to your hair routine. But don't overdo it. Too much stuff in your hair can make it stiff and prone to breaks. It won't look especially healthy or natural, either.

With that in mind, here are some products to consider:

  • Gel: Good for sculpting hair. Also gives it extra shine. Gels from tubes or bottles work best on thick or curly hair. Spray gels are a better choice for people with fine hair.
  • Mousse: Use it during or after blow-drying to give your hair more body.
  • Sculpting lotion makes hair extra stiff. Recommended only for curly hair or short spiky styles.
  • Spray: This old standby is still good for holding certain hairstyles in place without a gooey look.
  • Texturizer: A good way to prevent split ends and flyaway strands.
  • Volumizer: Gives hair extra lift and makes it look less flat.

Is it possible to brush my hair too much?

It's definitely possible to go overboard with a brush, especially if your hair is already brittle. If your hair is up to it, a good brushing will spread the natural oils around and give in an extra sheen. Still, just a few times a day is plenty.

What kind of brush should I use?

Consider the options:

  • Natural/boar bristles won't tangle you hair. Good for blow-drying, too.
  • Nylon/plastic bristles are best for taming and detangling long or curly hair.
  • Paddle-shaped brushes work best for long or shoulder-length hair. Their main virtue is that they brush evenly with long strokes.
  • Round brushes can act like a curler when blow drying, which is especially handy for bob cuts.
  • Wire bristles are best left for the professionals. The average user would end up snagging way too often.

What's the best way to color hair?

Do-it-yourself hair color kits can save you time and money, but you may not be happy with the results, especially if you already have bleached or permed hair. When you color at home, it's hard to spread the product evenly. Some spots may become super-saturated with chemicals, while others may not get enough. For a natural look, a trip to the salon is usually worth the extra money.

If you want to try an at-home kit, you should probably start with a temporary hair color that's low in ammonia. Depending on what type you get, you can expect it to last for six to 21 shampoos.

After getting your hair colored, be sure to use a shampoo and conditioner especially made for colored hair. They contain extra moisturizers to counteract the drying effects of chemicals.

References

American Academy of Dermatology. Does your hair need a little TLC? 2010. http://www.aad.org/media/background/news/Releases/Does_Your_Hair_Need_a_Little_TLC_Hair_Care_Product/

Food and Drug Administration. Heading off Hair-Care Disasters. Use Caution with Relaxers and Dyes. FDA Consum 2001 Jan-Feb;35(1):21-4.

Adderley-Kelly B, Green PM. Health promotion for urban middle school students: a survey of learning needs. J Natl Black Nurses Assoc 2000 Dec;11(2):34-8

Davidhizar R, Eshelman J. Can stress make you lose your hair? J Pract Nurs. 2001 Winter;51(4):18-21; quiz 22-3.

Bolduc C, Shapiro J. Hair care products: waving, straightening, conditioning, and coloring. Clin Dermatol. 2001 Jul-Aug;19(4):431-6.

Truem RM. The value of hair cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Dermatology. 2001;202(4):275-82.

Gary J. Hair care and hair care products. Clin Dermatol. 2001 Mar-Apr;19(2):227-36.

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