AgingSkinNet Article
Good Hair Care May Head off Hair Loss

Everyday things that we do to our hair can lead to lackluster locks — and even hair loss. To help you find out if you may be damaging your hair unintentionally, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any question, be sure to read the text that follows. It explains why hair loss can result and what changes dermatologists recommend to head off hair loss.

  • Do you vigorously towel dry your hair?
    Vigorously drying wet hair with a towel can cause hair loss because wet hair is more elastic and more vulnerable to breakage than dry hair. Instead of rubbing hair dry, absorb the water by wrapping your hair in a towel — or just let your hair air dry.

  • Do you brush or comb your hair when it is wet? If have straight hair and are of Caucasian or Asian descent, try to comb and brush your hair only when it is dry. Brushing or combing your hair when it is wet can stretch the strands causing them to break.

    People who have tightly curled or textured hair or are of African descent should comb or brush their hair when it is wet. Doing so decreases the chance of hair breakage.

  • Do you use a blow dryer or curling iron?
    The high heat from a blow dryer can actually boil the water in the hair shaft leaving the hair brittle. Dermatologists recommend letting your hair partially air dry before you style or comb. This gives your hair excellent body, and there is less chance of hair damage. Decreasing the number of times per week that you blow dry is another way to help limit the damage.

    If you use a curling iron to add body to your hair, be sure you do not leave the curling iron in place for more than a second or two. No matter what your hair type, the excessive heat can damage your hair.

  • Do you use styling products that promise a long-lasting hold? While these products may give your hair unbeatable hold, using a comb to style your hair after your apply the product often causes the hair to break. Over time, this can lead to significant hair loss. Reducing the use of these products can minimize hair loss.

  • Do you try to fit 100 brush strokes per day into your hair-care routine? It is a myth that 100 strokes a day promotes healthy hair. Vigorous brushing can strip the ends of the hair, causing split ends. Dermatologists recommend that brushing be kept to a minimum to limit breakage.

  • Do you color, perm, or relax your hair?
    Dermatologists recommend that coloring, bleaching, permanents, and hair relaxers be used on a limited basis. All damage the hair and can cause dry, brittle strands.

  • Do you wear braids, a ponytail, or hair extensions? Tight braids, ponytails, and hair extensions can damage hair — and when worn for too long cause hair loss. All of these styles pull on your hair and when worn continuously usually cause tension that leads to breakage. If the tension continues, traction alopecia (hair loss caused by pulling on the scalp) can develop.

  • Do you let the sun color your hair?
    Excessive exposure to the sun can cause hair to become weak, dry, rough, faded, and brittle. You are especially susceptible to this if you use chemicals to bleach or lighten the natural color of your hair and then expose your hair to the sun. The chemicals often cause unsightly yellowing, fading, and a dull appearance. Even natural brunette hair can react to the sun and develop a reddish hue.

    To protect your hair from discoloration dermatologists recommend using a leave-in conditioner that contains zinc oxide and wearing a wide-brimmed hat. A hat provides the added benefit of protecting your face and scalp from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause skin cancer.

  • Do you skip the conditioner? Dermatologists recommend using a conditioner after every shampoo. While a conditioner cannot repair hair, it can increase shine, decrease static electricity, improve strength, and offer some protection from harmful UV rays. This, in turn, can significantly improve the look of damaged or weathered hair.

  • Do you condition your hair after getting out of a swimming pool? Wetting and conditioning your hair before you dive in helps protect your hair from the damaging effects of the chlorine. After swimming, be sure to use a specially formulated “swimmers” shampoo and deep condition to replace lost moisture.

The next time you are washing, styling, or treating your hair, think about how it will affect the overall health of your hair. Even slight changes can make a huge difference.

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Page last updated 6/17/09

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