Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Taking Better Care of Your Hair : Admiring the Adaptable Qualities of Hair , Stripping away the coating: Inside your hair , Cutting into a hair , Combing the cuticles , Breaking the hair bonds , Keeping it greased: Sebum’s role in healthy hair , Choosing and Using the Right Products , Remembering the “no wash” years , Looking at today’s hair care products , Attracting positive products to your hair , Getting the tangles out ,Adding chemicals ,Keeping things slippery with surfactants , Picking the proper shampoo , Knowing when to trust the label , Washing and drying your hair correctly , How Gels, Sprays, and Other Chemicals Impact Hair Shape , Maintaining a Healthy Scalp and Caring for Children’s Hair

Taking Better Care of Your Hair

In This Chapter

  • Getting to know your hair better
  • Finding hair care products that work for you
  • Understanding how chemicals affect your hair and scalp
  • Exploring dyeing and processing options
  • Taking care not to damage your hair
  • Caring for children’s hair

Hair can be your crowning glory. Through the ages, people have primped, crimped, colored, and pampered their locks.

Hair care products promising the wildest results overflow store shelves. According to some commercials, the right shampoo can change your life.

Even though you know that vibrant hair isn’t really going to change your life all that much, it can make you feel better about yourself, increase your confidence, and maybe even get you a few compliments. Treating your hair well helps avoid damage that can result in permanent hair loss, and it helps you keep the hair you have for as long as possible.

In this chapter, we look at some structural qualities of your hair as well as hair care products commonly used today. You find out how the different ways styling and enhancing your hair can damage it, and along the way, we explain how to go about kinder, gentler hair care.

Although this chapter describes general hair care tips, the purpose of including it in Hair Loss & Replacement For Dummies is to let you know how proper hair care and various products can help slow the hair loss process, help maintain the best quality of the hair you have, and disguise your thinning hair.

Admiring the Adaptable Qualities of Hair

This may come as a surprise to you, but the hair on your head is dead. Don’t feel too bad, though — everyone else’s hair is dead, too. So why waste time taking care of something that’s dead? And if it’s not alive, then how can you make your hair look better — or last longer?

Even though your hair is dead, how you treat it can make it look much better — or worse — because hair has many attributes of a living organ and can repair itself under the right conditions.

Stripping away the coating: Inside your hair

It’s easier to care for your hair properly if you understand how the individual parts of a human hair are affected by the way you care for it. In this section, we look at the anatomy of a human hair.

Cutting into a hair

Hair is made up of dead compressed cells produced about 1⁄4 inch below the skin. At the end of each hair is the hair bulb, which is essentially the factory for making the hair; this part of the hair is alive and working all the time. Each hair has its own bulb, and damage to the hair bulb can result in permanent loss of that hair. (Turn to Chapter 2 for a look at the anatomy of a hair follicle.)

Each individual hair can be compared to an electrical wire. If you cut into a wire, you see that it has a rubbery outer covering and twisted or bundled inner wires that carry electricity. Human hair is made up of an outer covering called the cuticle that contains individual bundles of hair called the cortex. The cuticle gives the hair shaft a round or oval shape. Stripping off the cuticle would leave the hair looking like a series of out of control wires.

The bundles (also called spindles) of hair cells in the cortex are actually made up of even smaller bundles that literally twist as they’re made. With African American hair, the hair cells are so heavily twisted (up to 12 times more twists per length than Caucasian hair) as the bundles are made that the hair is kinky. The tight twists tend to kink the cuticle, producing pointed, vulnerable edges that make the hair more susceptible to damage. The less the twists, the straighter the hair.

Combing the cuticles

The outer layer of the hair, the cuticle, protects the inner spindles and bundles. The cuticle has scales that, like scales on a fish or shingles on your roof, protect the hair within. When you take a knife against the grain of scales on a fish, you take off the scales; with the hair cuticle, imagine your fingers or comb rubbing against the direction of the cuticle scales doing the same type of damage.

The scales make the cuticle porous, allowing the hair to breathe. This is very important because the ability to hydrate hair depends upon the porous nature of the cuticle. The scales also relate to how the hair feels: When you stroke it one way, it feels smooth, and the other way there’s a roughness to it.

Breaking the hair bonds

The bonds that help hold hair in a certain position can be broken or rearranged, such as when hair is permed or straightened. There are three types of bonds that determine the strength and the lift of the hair:

  •  Hydrogen bonds: These bonds break down easily and give hair its flexibility. Hydrogen bonds come apart when you wet your hair and come back together again as your hair dries.
  •  Salt bonds: These are temporary and easy to rearrange because they’re water-dependent and easily dissolved when your hair is washed. Salt bonds are easily broken by weak alkaline products like ammonia or acid solutions that contain chlorine or copper peptide in high concentration and by changes in pH. These bonds can be reformed by normalizing the pH level of the hair with normalizing solutions available at your local hair salons.
  •  Disulfide bonds: These are relatively permanent and can only be changed with perming and relaxing agents. Disulphide bonds are stronger than hydrogen and salt bonds, and there are fewer of them than the other types. Disulfide bonds are the most important factors in supplying the hair with its strength and durability, and as such, they can’t be broken by heat or water.

Wet hair can be stretched by as much as 30 percent, and you can change the shape of the hair bonds when it’s stretched. For

example, when you put rollers on your wet hair and then allow the hair to dry on the rollers, the hydrogen bonds take on the shape of the rollers, which essentially sets the hydrogen bonds in this new shape.

Keeping it greased: Sebum’s role in healthy hair

Your scalp helps keep your hair looking healthy by supplying an abundant and constant production of sebum, a waxy material made by sebaceous glands. It’s secreted onto the hair as it emerges from the scalp through pores in the skin. The sebum works its way into the hair on the surface of the cuticle, and it’s spread through the hair as the hair moves in the wind, by combing it, touching it, and by hairs rubbing against other adjacent hairs.

If hair is cut short, the same amount of sebum is produced, so relatively more sebum covers less hair, causing it to appear more greasy. (It also causes the bald pate to acquire a sheen rather quickly after showering because there’s no hair to carry off the oil.) There’s nothing you can do about oily hair other than wash your hair more often and use a shampoo made especially for greasy hair.

Adolescents have unusually high sebum output, which is why so many teenagers complain of greasy or oily hair. We’re often asked to prescribe drugs to decrease sebum production in teenagers who hate their greasy hair. Some professionals feel that the sebum production can be impacted by drugs such as Propecia or saw palmetto (an herb; see Chapter 10), which block production of the DHT hormone, but studies show no connection between a lack of DHT production and decreased sebum production.

Choosing and Using the Right Products

The right shampoo and conditioner can work wonders on your hair, helping it stay not only shiny and attractive but also healthy. With shelves and shelves of products available in stores, how do you know which ones to choose? Should you go for the one with the most four-syllable ingredients on the label, or maybe the one with the label that coordinates with your bathroom colors? Or are they all the same, and the cheapest will do?

In this section, we help you pick out products that will benefit your hair, as well as describe the improvements that science has brought to the world of hair care products and how they affect you and your locks.

Remembering the “no wash” years

For centuries, hair care was a time consuming, uncomfortable process that often did more harm than good. Before shampoo was invented, harsh soaps, often made of animal fats, were used to scrub the hair in much the same way as you scrub your hands today to clean them. The washing process left scummy soap deposits sticking to the hair, which made it look dull. Scrubbing got the dirt out, but with varying degrees of damage in the process.

Because hair washing in the old days was a major ordeal for many people, particularly women with long hair, it wasn’t unusual to avoid the process until such a time as it became impossible to ignore. The unwashed hair built up sebum (grease), which stuck to the 100 to 150 hairs shed daily and flakes of shed skin. This all resulted in the hair becoming matted overnight. Tossing and turning in one’s sleep resulted in a semi-permanent “bed head” as mats of hair became cemented to each other.

The result not only looked bad, but it also smelled pretty ghastly. People tried to manage the problem with powders to hide the visuals and perfumes to mask the odors. These powders added more particulate matter to the mats of hair and sebum, making the problem much worse in the long run. So if you’ve ever lamented the fact that you need to wash your hair regularly, be thankful that you can do just that!

Looking at today’s hair care products

Things have definitely changed for the better in the industrialized world. Today, it’s not unusual to wash your hair frequently, some- times more than once a day. Although this is a good move from both a visual and an odor perspective, it means that modern shampoos must be designed to prevent damage incurred by frequent use.

Shampooing your hair removes environmental particles that may build up during your daily activities. People who work in dirty environments (such as shoveling coal in a coal mine) or even just outside all day will clearly build up more particulate matter than those people who work indoors. Cleaning your hair removes any particulate matter as well as the sebum that builds up throughout the day.

Attracting positive products to your hair

You probably never knew this, but hair has a small negative electric charge. Thinking back to high school chemistry, you may remember that opposite charges attract. That means that you can use chemicals and products that have a positive charge to them in an effort to treat mild damage to your hair. These products are attracted to the negatively charged hair and coat the hair cuticle, restoring the shine to dull, dry hair and making it more manageable.

One product that can help your hair through electricity is conditioner, which carries a weak positive charge. The positive molecules in the conditioner, which contains silicone, stick to the negatively charged hair shafts, and the conditioner molecules penetrate the scales of the cuticle, allowing moisture to reach the matrix of the hair shaft. This moisture increases the hair’s shine and luster and the depth of the hair color.

Add this to the conditioning properties that help detangle the hair when combing it, and you get conditioners that make hair softer and easier to manage — wet or dry.

Getting the tangles out

Most modern shampoos also contain some conditioning agents mixed in with the cleansers for easy combing of wet hair. You also have the option of using a separate conditioner for even better detangling.

If you’re having difficulty detangling your hair, applying more and more conditioner won’t help. Rather, dry your hair and then use a detangling agent.

Dreadlocks or long kinky hair can be a detangling nightmare. It may help to separate your hair into sections and go through each section using a long knitting needle. Detangle it from the scalp out- ward if possible; you may run into a knot that you need to detangle against the direction of the scales on the cuticle.

Damage to the hair structure during the detangling process is a real risk, so this process should never be rushed. In other words, attempting to yank your comb through a tangle is a hair care no-no.

Adding chemicals

Shampoos and conditioners are more than cleaning agents: They’re also an alphabet soup of chemicals. Various chemicals are added to

  • Control the viscosity (thickness of the solution).
  • Control the pH (the degree of acidity present).
  • Act as preservation agents to ensure that bacteria doesn’t grow in the shampoos and conditioners.
  • Make the products attractive. Coloring agents are used in con- junction with perfumes to make the product please both your eyes and your nose.

Hair care products often include chemicals such as dimethicone and panthenol (a vitamin B derivative), which are absorbed into the hair shaft and provide moisture to dry areas when the new hair grows. These compounds are more easily absorbed by the hair when surfactants are also added to the mix (see the section “Keeping things slippery with surfactants” in this chapter for more); surfactants help overcome the body’s sebum, which can prevent full absorption of moisture in the hair.

Certain shampoos contain compounds like zinc pyrithione to treat flaky scalps (otherwise known as dandruff). These shampoos generally state on the packaging whether they’re recommended for people with dandruff. All shampoos that claim to treat dandruff must meet FDA over-the-counter drug requirements.

Volumizing shampoos and conditioners that add moisture to the hair shaft, thereby increasing the bulk of the hair, contain such unpronounceable products as polyquarternium and stearamidaproply dimethylamine, which alter the electric charge on the hair shaft. These tongue twisters are particularly important in winter months when the air is dry, especially in heated buildings.

Keeping things slippery with surfactants

Today’s commercial shampoos contain compounds called surfactants, compounds that accomplish a number of things when added to shampoo. Surfactants

  • Help shampoo lather up in hard or soft water.
  • Help hair rinse easily and thoroughly.
  • Eliminate the need for hard scrubbing, which can damage your hair.
  • Facilitate removal of grease and any dirt from the scalp and hair, because the surfactant can penetrate physical barriers, such as flakes of skin and dirt, embedded in the skin or hair.
  • Facilitate the foaming properties of a shampoo, which helps lift the particulate materials (dirt) into the foam. A thicker shampoo with surfactants in it will easily spread through the hair.
  • Maintain a balance between the penetrating power of the shampoo and the sensitivity of the scalp skin, which benefits people with sensitive skin.
Picking the proper shampoo

You have a myriad of shampoo options, but selecting the right one for your hair isn’t really that difficult when you understand the categories. Shampoos are generally geared toward use on normal, fine, or dry hair; you just have to figure out which one you have. Here’s a breakdown:

Normal hair

• Is neither greasy nor dry.

• Isn’t permed or color treated.

• Generally holds its style well, without the use of lots of products.

• Looks good most of the time.

Fine hair

• Tends to be limp.

• Looks flat and lacks volume.

• Is difficult to manage.

• Becomes greasy soon after it’s washed.

Dry hair

• Is dull.

• Is frizzy.

• Feels rough.

• Has been treated with perms or coloring agents.

• Tangles easily.

Excess oils tend to weigh the hair down, making it difficult to manage, because the oil clings to dirt and particulate matter. Because sebum is easily spread by passing your fingers through your hair, don’t run your fingers through your hair after you finish drying and styling it.

And if your hair is greasy, be sure to use a shampoo designed for greasy hair. It has more powerful surfactants to get the grease off of the scalp and hair shafts, but be aware that more powerful surfactants may be more irritating to the eyes and skin.

Knowing when to trust the label

Because the FDA is involved in the regulation of claims on the labels and the advertising material on these products, you can generally trust the claims if the company is well known. On the other hand, many fly-by-night companies will risk making incredible claims, hoping to fly under the FDA radar, to get you to buy their product. These products often show up on late night infomercials and feature someone wearing a white lab coat (who almost assuredly is not a doctor, although you’re meant to think he is).

Because hair products don’t have to be cleared by the FDA before they go on the market, there’s no central place to go to find out if a product is safe and their ads are truthful. If the FDA finds that the product is being falsely advertised, they will first act by serving the company a “cease and desist” letter. It can take considerable time before a company removes a product from the market under these circumstances.

The safety and effectiveness of these products may not have been rigorously tested and you don’t want to become a victim of some possibly unsafe product while waiting for the FDA to answer a complaint and then put them out of business; the best thing to do is to buy products from companies that are well known rather than those that advertise on late night TV.

Shampoos don’t alter the physical properties of the hair, so hair will be just as pliable and strong after a shampoo as it was before. But conditioners in the shampoo can interfere with perming and coloring. You can offset the impact by using shampoos that con- tain silicone micro-emulsifiers.

Washing and drying your hair correctly

You may not think you need instructions for washing your hair, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, including washing and drying your hair! Follow these instructions and you’ll end up with less hair damage and healthier, better-looking hair:

1. Wet your hair with plain warm water.

2. Put the shampoo in your hands and rub them together to get the lather up before applying it to your hair.

3. Work the shampoo into the scalp and massage gently with your finger tips to get the lather up.

4. Let your hair hang while you rinse it thoroughly.

If you’re in a bath tub, lean your head forward as you rinse the shampoo out with warm water.

5. If you’re not using a shampoo that contains conditioner, put a separate conditioner in your hands and apply it to the scalp first before working it into the hair. Leave it on for at least a couple of minutes and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Shampoos combined with conditioners can be very effective for most men with short hair and for hair that’s not damaged.

6. Towel-dry your hair gently by patting it; don’t rub your scalp and hair briskly with the towel and don’t blow-dry your hair when soaking wet.

7. Comb or brush your wet hair gently. If you use a conditioner properly, the tangles should be relatively easy to take out with a wide-toothed plastic comb or brush.

8. f you use a mousse, gel, or setting agent, it’s best applied after you pat-dry your hair, when the hair is still damp.

So-called wet gels give the hair a glossy appearance.

9. If you blow-dry your hair, don’t do so when the hair is soaking wet.

If you use a blow-dryer, be sure to keep it moving constantly so that the heat isn’t concentrated in one area of your hair. It’s always best to use the lowest heat and the lowest speed you can get away with because high heat causes hair damage. Also, damage generally occurs at the end of the blow-drying cycle, so always turn off the drier before your hair is completely dry.

How Gels, Sprays, and Other Chemicals Impact Hair Shape

Hair sprays, gels, perms, and other chemical products and processes exist for only one reason: So you can force your hair to do what you want. It’s part of human nature to want what you don’t have. People with straight hair want curls and people with curly hair are constantly trying to tame it into straight submission. Hair, however, has a mind of its own and has certain built-in characteristics that must be overcome if you want it to do your bid- ding. Some factors that influence the look of your hair are:

  • The thickness of the hair shafts
  • The density of the hair
  • The natural stiffness of the hair (which keeps it from lying on the scalp like a wet noodle)
  • The natural curvature of the hair
  • The slippery nature of the hair (how it slides over its neigh- boring hairs)
  • The cohesiveness of the hair (how it sticks to other hairs)

This section looks at the ways changing your look with chemical products and processes can also change the composition of your hair — for better, for worse, and sometimes forever.

Thickening your hair

Who wants flat, wimpy hair, the kind that lacks body or bounce? Limp hair is almost always very fine hair, because fine hair shafts don’t have enough thickness to maintain their stiffness and to stand away from the scalp. Hair that’s naturally curved takes up more room and makes hair appear fuller than it actually is. (People from Mediterranean areas, such as France, Spain, and Italy, are famous for lush, wavy, full-bodied hair.)

Using styling gels or a mousse that attach to your hair shafts can give your hair a thicker appearance, even if “flat as a pancake” describes your normal hair to a T. Gels and mousses increase the roughness of the hair in addition to giving the appearance of a thicker hair shaft.

The increased roughness of the hairs makes them bond to each other, which makes your hair appear fuller. When your hair is fine, it’s not a good idea to use smoothing products that take away the rough character of the hair because your hair can end up appear- ing even thinner than it actually is.

You may have to try several different mousses and gels to find what works best for your hair because there are so many products on the market that you need to experiment to find the one that fits you needs best). Mousses and some gels are particularly good for fine hair to increase the sense of hair bulk.

Reshaping hair

Setting can help you reshape your hair’s natural appearance by giving it more volume. Blow-drying with a round brush to form the hair and then using rollers to hold it in position until the drying is complete is a common setting technique.

Setting wet hair with the help of a foam or gel increases the curvature of the hair shaft. Shampooing helps this process because surfactants in the shampoo penetrate the hair shaft, making the dried hair respond better to what you’re doing to it. (Refer to the earlier section, “Keeping things slippery with surfactants,” for more on these compounds in shampoo.)

Teasing hair is a common method of increasing volume, but repeated teasing will permanently damage the hair because it breaks the scales off the hair cuticle, and these broken scales can’t repair themselves. (The section, “Combing the cuticles,” earlier in this chapter explains the cuticles and scales.)

All the following materials are useful in setting hair because they create adhesion of the hairs. They form films on the hair shafts that dry and hold one hair to another (like a weld on the hair), producing a better lift and therefore a better illusion of volume and fullness.

  •  Water-based materials such as gels, mousses, and foams: These wash off easily with a good shampoo.
  •  Hair spray: Hair spray forms a hard film that bonds the hair into place. Combing sprayed hair that has dried can break the hair at the bonding point. Therefore, it’s best not to mess with the hair after you apply hair spray, or if you do attempt to restyle it, be very careful not to tug on the hair as you comb it again.

Many people spray on way more hair spray than needed, leaving the hair overly saturated and making it very difficult to remove the hair spray completely with one shampoo application.

  •  Hair waxes and pomades: These are more complex to apply and much more difficult to remove, but a good strong sham- poo with a very active surfactant will clean waxes and pomades off the hair shafts, although it may take more than one washing.

The advantage of waxes and pomades is that they stay in place and hold the hair against wind and even rain because they’re not water-soluble. Waxes act like a plaster cast, imparting a rigidity to the hair shaft, and they work well in hair of any length. The spiked hair of many movie and rock stars is achieved using waxes and pomades.

Unlike hair-sprayed hair, which is difficult to remold, wax- based products make it easy to rework the shape of the hair again and again. They’re so durable that you could restyle your hair as you walked down the street (although you may prefer to do it in front of a mirror)!

Changing Your Natural Look: Dyeing and Processing

More than half of people over age 50 have gray hair, but you’d never know it. More people dye their hair to look younger than do any other age-defying beauty enhancement. But if you want to keep your hair as long as possible, it pays to be careful with dyes, because improper use of dyes can do permanent damage to

your hair.

Graying generally starts at the temples and then spreads to other parts of the scalp. Contrary to urban legend, your hair can’t turn white overnight, although it may seem like it does when you let too much time elapse between coloring!

Dyeing your hair can take years off you — but it can also be bad for your hair. Plant-based dyes such as henna are less likely to cause irritation, but the color doesn’t last as long as if you use chemical dyes.

Most commercial hair dyes today contain the chemical para Phenylenediamine (PPD) as an active ingredient. It’s not uncommon to develop skin sensitivity to permanent dyes containing PPD, so be sure to test the product on a small area before covering your whole head with hair color for the first time. Always check for the presence of PPD in the dye that you are going to use. Even though semi permanent dyes are not supposed to have PPD in them, never assume this for your own safety.

There are two types of patch testing for PPD:

  • Apply a 20-percent dilution of the dye being tested to a small area on your neck below the collar; wait a full 72 hours to see if there’s a reaction, which would mean a sensitivity to PPD. A reaction produces a reddened, rashy, or inflamed area of skin in the area covered by the test solution.
  • Apply a patch containing a 2 percent concentration of PPD in a petrolatum base to the skin and leave it there for up to three days. If a rash or reddening occurs, remove the patch.

Sensitivities may arise even if you’ve been using a dye containing PPD for years, so not being sensitive initially to the PPD doesn’t mean that you won’t become sensitive to it over time.

How nature colors hair

Two types of pigment (called melanin) in the hair bulb create hair color, which is produced below the skin, deep in the dermal fat about 1⁄4 inch from the surface of the skin. The colors you see are imprinted on the cortex of the hair fibers; the cuticle that covers the hair bundles is clear.

These two pigments affect your hair in the following ways:

  • Eumelanin, the most common pigment, controls black and brown colors (slightly different dominant genes)
  •  Phaeomelanin has a red color to it; all humans have some degree of red pigment in their hair, except for people whose hair is stark white

The amount of eumelanin in the hair determines the darkness of the color in the following way:

  • Brown eumelanin in large quantities will make the hair dark brown.
  • Brown eumelanin in low quantities will produce a blond color.
  • Black eumelanin will make the hair black.
  • Black eumelanin in very low concentrations will create gray hair.

Most hair colors are a balance between brown, black, and red pigment, based upon the amount of these pigments that blend together. Northern Europe has more blond-haired people than any- where else, and Scotland has the highest redheaded population (up to 10 percent of Scots are redheads). The rest of the human race has dark pigment granules. If you bleach your hair, you oxidize these pigments and they lose their color.

If you have no pigment-producing cells (as happens as some people age), your hair will be white. Albinos have no pigment granules and have white hair — even their eyebrows and eyelashes.

Phaeomelanin is a robust pigment with a strong impact on the hair. It’s hard to get hair with a high percentage of phaeomelanin to respond to dyes and bleaches. Salon operators know that when people bleach their hair, their natural red pigment lingers, so it’s not unusual for bleached hair to show a red or orange tinge (particularly in blonds) and over time turn orange and various shades of yellow with exposure to light.

How dyes work

Hair dyes can be either permanent or semi-permanent. Both are easy to apply at home, reasonably inexpensive, and very popular, but can also be damaging to your hair, especially if they’re not used properly.

Settling for semi-permanent

Semi-permanent dyes are acidic and are made of small molecules that can pass through the scales of the cuticle and into the hair cortex. These dyes are water-soluble and easily washed out. They may last from one to six weeks, depending on what dyes are used, but they lose color faster with frequent washings. Semi-permanent dyes are generally safe and can be used at home. Because they don’t contain bleach, they can’t lighten hair, but they can darken graying hair.

If you decide you’re unhappy with your new semi-permanent color, many home ingredients can help you rinse out the dye. Common hair rinse ingredients found around the house include tea, beer (which is also thought to add body to the hair and make it more manageable), lemon juice, and heavily diluted honey (50 drops in a pint of water). Rinse with any of these remedies after washing your hair if you want the dye out faster. The sooner you wash out the dye, the quicker it will come out.

You may not want to walk around with your hair smelling of beer, so you can follow up the rinse with a more pleasant smelling shampoo.

Going platinum

Bleaches oxidize the melanin granules in the cortex of the hair, causing them to lose their color. This is an irreversible chemical alteration in the hair itself and can’t be washed out. The most common bleach for hair is hydrogen peroxide, which can be used in conjunction with dyes to achieve the desired color.

Bleaches are often alkaline solutions, just like the neutralizing solutions used for perms, which open the scales on the cuticle (for more on perms, see the later section, “Perming your hair”). When you bleach dark hair, the small concentrations of phaeomelanin are resistant to the bleach so it’s not unusual to see a red tinge on bleached dark hair.

The powerful bleach needed to obtain the platinum blond look will almost certainly damage the hair cuticle, especially if it takes several applications to achieve the desired color, each adding more damage to the cuticle. The hair loses its silky feel because of the cuticle damage.

Bleaching also makes hair more porous, which can produce uneven shading. As new hair grows in its original color at the scalp level, the entire head of hair often must be bleached again to cover it, producing more potential damage to the older part of the hair shaft. Some people just bleach their roots, targeting the hair close to the scalp but leaving the hair that emerges from the scalp in its original color.

With repeated bleaching, wet combing is difficult because the hair cuticle isn’t smooth and has many damaged scales. Back combing (or teasing) this hair just compounds the problem, producing mechanical damage and hair breakage as the scales are knocked off. Bleached hair also swells very easily because it’s so porous, and hair is much weaker when it’s wet.

Putting on permanent coloring

Permanent hair coloring can be applied to the whole head or just in select areas for streaks or highlights. Before hair can be permanently dyed, all the existing color has to be removed by a strong hydrogen peroxide (in a concentration of 30 to 40 percent) that bleaches out all the melanin granules. This may produce some permanent damage to the keratin in the hair cortex, leaving the hair with a lifeless look.

Ammonia is the alkaline chemical applied to open the cuticle and allow the hair color to penetrate the cortex of the hair. It also acts as a catalyst (accelerating the chemical reaction) when the permanent hair color comes together with the peroxide.

Various alcohols and conditioners may also be present in permanent hair color. The conditioners close the scales on the cuticle after coloring in order to seal the new color to the cortex. Closing the scales of the cuticle is important to maintain the moisture of the hair cortex.

The FDA requires that warnings appear on permanent hair color packaging to alert you to possible damage to your hair if directions aren’t followed exactly. Read the instructions in the packages carefully.

Perming your hair

Many men and women who are experiencing hair thinning opt for a perm to give their hair a fuller look. You can find more on ways to conceal hair loss in Chapter 8.

Perming your hair correctly is an art. The process is actually quite intricate. Chew on this info when sitting in the salon next time you get a perm!

Permanents use strong alkaline chemicals to break down the disulfide bonds in your hair and open the cortex of the hair fibers within the cuticle so they’re able to take on water and reshape themselves anatomically. After the bonds are broken down, the hair can be reformed by using perm rods (the wider the rod, the looser the curl).

Neutralizers that reset your hair in the new curled pattern are applied after rinsing away the setting agent. The neutralizers contain oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide, which harden the cement that bonds the hair fibers with its keratin and reform the disulphide bonds to their new shape.

When setting agents are on your hair, your hair is very vulnerable to damage. Changes in the temperature (a person running out of the salon to say hello to someone passing by in the street) can cause damage. The longer the chemicals are in the hair shaft, the more chance there is of damage to the cuticle, and a damaged hair cuticle can leave hair more susceptible to damage from the perming chemicals.

Although the setting agent is washed out before your hair is neutralized, some of the solution will remain in the cortex and continue to have an influence on the hair bundles. For this reason, it’s important not to wash your hair for three days after perming, or it may lose the perm prematurely.

Fine hair is more likely to be damaged by repeated perming treatments because the cuticles are thin and the shaft cement and the hair bundles don’t contain much bulk for repeated reshaping.

Some people just don’t perm well; their hair is resistant to the process, requiring more chemicals and possibly more risks in the perming process. Stronger chemicals increase the risks, so expert- ise is critical. Permanent damage to the hair and to the growth center below the skin surface increases in probability as stronger chemicals are used to perm or relax the hair. (The next section covers relaxing treatments.)

Relaxing your hair

People with curly or kinky hair use relaxing treatments to make their hair more manageable; it’s most common among African Americans or others with unmanageably curly hair. Relaxing is a similar process to perming because the disulphide bond and reforming process in the setting stage is identical, but it’s different in that the goal is to straighten the hair, not to curl and shape it. The shape of the hair shaft of the very curly or kinky hair adds a mechanical problem to the straightening process.

Unfortunately, some people are so aggressive with hair straightening chemicals that they do permanent damage to some or all of their hair. Overusing the setting agents can damage the hair above the skin at the hair shaft level or below the skin in the living parts of the hair follicle and cause the hairs to break off. We’ve seen almost complete permanent hair loss from an overly aggressive use of these setting agents. Damage can be limited by making sure you follow the directions on the use of these chemicals to the letter.

Hot irons may be used in conjunction with relaxing treatments to straighten kinky hair, causing injury to the underlying anatomy of the hair. It’s actually easier and less dangerous to straighten very kinky long hair by putting wet hair under a paper bag and using a hot iron on top of the bag. The paper minimizes the damage to the cuticle because it insulates the hair from the high temperatures of the hot iron.

Avoiding Hair Damage

Hair is under constant assault, not only from the elements (sun, wind, and rain) but also from you, its owner. There are endless ways to torture your hair into submission — and in some cases the damage can be permanent. In this section, we look at the things that make your hair cry uncle and things you can do to counteract the damage you may have already inflicted.

Because you’re constantly producing new hair, you can get a fresh start, a second chance at caring for your hair if you did things wrong in the recent past. This means that you replace the old dam- aged hair with new freshly growing hair, but it will take months for this process to occur (hair grows at 1⁄2 inch per month). Improper use of permanent dyes or hair setting agents can damage all of the hair on top of your head.

You may have to wait a year or two for new growth to replace that which must be cut away, but the hair will grow back, as long as you haven’t inflicted permanent damage on the hair root. The longer you want your hair, the longer the wait.

Hair in thinning areas is often finer than hair on other parts of your head. Thinning hair also grows more slowly. If hair in the frontal or crown areas where hair is starting to miniaturize (the step before it disappears permanently) is damaged in any way, its growth may stop completely until it has time to recover — and at that point, the hair may be about to disappear permanently.

Unfortunately, the period where hair begins to thin is the time people often start trying to make their thinning hair look better by dyeing it. Aggressive dying may finish off the balding process ahead of time.

Most people do dastardly things to their hair on a daily basis; here are just a few of the worst offenses:

  • Drying with a blow-dryer: Deep in the cortex are air pockets that give hair an added bounce. These air pockets have moisture in them, and if you blow-dry your hair at a high temperature, you can boil the moisture and cause the hair shaft to explode! So a moderate temperature is essential when you blow-dry your hair.
  •  Using hot rollers: These curl-creators may be the single most damaging thing for hair because they apply heat directly to your hair.
  •  Exposing hair to direct sunlight: Heat decreases the amount of moisture in your hair, causing problems similar to those of blow-drying. Exposing your hair to high doses of ultraviolet light from direct sunlight can cause significant damage to the disulphide bonds in the keratin.
  •  Rubbing too hard to dry hair: If you rub your hair roughly with a towel, the friction pulls out hair and may produce mechanical damage to the remaining hair shafts. Hacking it with dull scissors: Dull scissors can split apart the cuticle, leaving broken hair with split ends that tend to peel down the hair shaft.
  •  Back brushing: Think of your hair as a one-way street which runs from the scalp to the tip of the hair follicle. When you brush or comb the hair against the scales, going from the tip of the follicle to the scalp, you can irreversibly damage the shaft and break the hair. Intact, unbroken cuticle cells are glossy and smooth and give hair its shine and luster. Back brushing changes the character of the cuticle so that it loses its shine and luster.
  •  Using a metal comb or brushing too hard: Plastic combs create much less friction than metal combs and are a better choice. Combing or brushing wet hair can fracture the hair shafts, but conditioners can help by detangling and allowing a comb to be passed through the hair without tugging on it, which may cause it to fracture. When combing, start at the ends and work your way up to the scalp, making sure to stay with the grain by combing downward away from the scalp.
  •  Perming: As we explain in the earlier section, “Perming your hair,” the perming process breaks apart the scales so that water can be absorbed and the hair can be reshaped. Leaving perm solution on for too long or perming too often can permanently damage the hair shaft.
  • Bleaching or coloring: The earlier section, “How dyes work,” explains how bleaching or coloring your hair can damage the cuticle and increase the porosity of the hair shaft, weakening the hair by allowing it to absorb too much moisture.
  •  Putting rubber bands around it: Rubber bands can cause traction alopecia by putting too much pressure on the hair shafts. In fact, constant pulling of the hair from any source can cause traction alopecia.
  •  Using hair sprays: Hair spray coats the cuticle and changes its porosity, and it makes hairs bind to each other and pull at the points of contact. They can produce traction from the constant pulling that may fracture the hair cuticle and the spindles below, exposing the cortex to possible environmental damage.

Most hair sprays are water-soluble, so if you wash your hair daily after using hair sprays, the hair spray chemicals and bonds they form are usually washed away, decreasing the chance of damage.

An occasional bad hair day doesn’t mean you’ve permanently dam- aged your hair; bad hair days usually are caused by a reduction in static electricity in your hair, which is due to weather conditions and not by anything you’ve done to your hair.

You guarantee that your hair will recover poorly from damage from the various hair treatments you subject it to if you don’t give it an opportunity for repair with good washing and conditioning. Once the cuticle cracks or breaks and the cortex is damaged, only a good hair cut (removing the damaged hair by cutting it off) will allow you to get the healthy hair look you want.

When hair is damaged, it appears dull and feels rough, losing that silky feel. Fortunately, with time, the hair grows out and you can cut away that damaged hair as the younger part of the hair near the base of the scalp replaces the old hair.

Maintaining a Healthy Scalp

There’s a common misconception that balding means there’s something wrong with the scalp. But because hair actually starts growing from below the scalp, the scalp itself has little to do with hair loss or hair health.

When hair loss occurs because of male genetic hair loss (or any other cause), the blood supply to the area drops because it isn’t needed where there isn’t any hair. When surgeons transplant new hair, the circulation in the scalp improves as the new hair grows out (in effect recruiting the blood supply it needs). (You can find more about hair transplantation in Part V.)

We generally tell patients that if they shampoo with a good commercial product and use a conditioner once a day, the skin of the scalp should remain moist and well taken care of.

You can impact your scalp circulation in a number of ways, some of which may affect your hair indirectly. Things that are bad for the scalp and its circulation include:

  •  Smoking: As shown in ultrasound studies, smoking reduces scalp circulation. Because this occurs with each cigarette, over time smoking may contribute to whatever hair loss is occurring on the head. Most doctors strongly believe this con- nection, although definitive scientific proof is lacking.
  • Sun exposure: Repeated sunburns on the scalp may impact structures deep in the scalp causing the hair producing cells to shrink. Combining genetic hair loss and intense ultraviolet light may speed up the balding process.
  •  Skin cancer: Skin cancer comes in three different types, two of which can be deadly by spreading throughout your body (malignant melanomas and squamous cell cancers). These cancers almost always appear in sun exposed skin.
  • Melanomas can rapidly spread beyond the confines of the local area and they can be very small flat, mole like, frequently black tumors. The third type of cancer, basal cell cancer) usually remains local but it often produces ulcers on the skin, and they can grow to a significant size.

When balding occurs, the scalp is exposed to the impact of ultraviolet light from direct sunlight, and the skin changes from a smooth, uniform colored skin, to a skin that has spots and discolorations throughout. Hair protects the scalp from direct sunlight and can produce enough shade to reduce the risks of skin cancers.

  • Dermatologic conditions: A variety of conditions can impact the skin and scalp. See Chapter 5 for more.
  • Folliculitis: This is an infection of the hair follicles. It appears as acne or red or white bumps on the scalp skin and may have to be treated with soaks, antibiotics, or a minor surgical incision. It should never be picked or scratched, as this may increase the incidence of permanent scarring and may spread the infection from an infected hair follicle to one that is not infected.

Folliculitis rarely causes permanent hair loss, but it may cause the hair to prematurely enter the telogen (sleep) phase of the hair cycle.

  •  Chlorine and salt water: Frequent swimming in chlorine pools or salt water without shampooing and conditioning afterward has the ability to cause hair and scalp damage from the heavy salt or chlorine exposure. The salt can dry the scalp.

Many patients believe that dandruff may cause balding, but this is not true. Other patients report having an itchy or tingling scalp, and they believe it’s a precursor of the balding process. This com- plaint is actually quite common and may be a sign of early genetic hair loss.

Caring for Children’s Hair

Want to get a head start on healthy heads of hair for your kids? You can do this by teaching them how to properly wash and dry their hair. Help them learn non-destructive styling techniques (until they reach the age where their friends know way more than you do about hair — and everything else).

Many babies have little hair to work with, and what hair they have is often very fine, delicate, and easily damaged. As a child grows, new hair grows that’s often thicker than the baby hairs seen in the first year of life.

In many infants, the new hair grown at about one year may have a completely different texture or color than what was previously present!

Probably the most damage to children’s hair comes from the styles used to make them look cute or to keep their hair out of their faces! Ponytails, pigtails, and braids can pull out the hair at the roots and produce traction alopecia (see Chapter 5 for more on traction alopecia). This hair loss condition is very common among African American children, who often have multiple pigtails that pull on the scalp in many areas, or Caucasian children with wild or very curly hair. Unfortunately, this type of hair loss is often permanent.

People take so much pride in the way their children look that they often treat the kids like dolls, using hairstyles that are counter to the hair’s natural growing tendencies and that can harm the hair over time. To avoid damaging a young person’s hair, follow these recommendations (most of the rules discussed earlier in this chap- ter apply just as much to children as they do to adults):

  •  Don’t keep rubber bands in the hair overnight.
  •  Rotate hairstyles so that one area isn’t always receiving traction. For example, do a ponytail one day, braids the next, and then leave it loose with a headband for a day or two.
  •  Use a good conditioner to make the hair slide more easily when you’re combing out knots. For longer hair, use detangling agents along with a good conditioner to minimize the formation of knots in the first place.

As with adult hair, always start at the end of the hair and work toward the scalp, not the other direction. (Hardly anyone does this properly, but now you know!)

When working on knots, hold the hair between the ends and the scalp tightly in one hand as you comb the hair so that the child doesn’t feel the pain of the comb pulling on the hair.

  •  Use a plastic comb rather than a brush to prevent static electricity from building on the hair as it dries. Static electricity will make the hair stand up with more exposure to the elements like sun, heat, and wind.
  •  Never back comb the hair, as this is guaranteed to damage childrens delicate hair shafts.
  •  Encourage children’s involvement in hair care. Show them how to properly wash and dry their hair and comb out tangles, and help them choose a flattering and easy care hairstyle.Fostering independence in proper hair grooming should be your goal.
  •  Inspect your children’s hair on a regular basis, especially when they start school. Hair lice is practically a rite of pas- sage for school-aged children and is easily spread from child to child. Early detection and treatment is important in minimizing any effects that head lice can have on the hair, such as permanent patches of hair loss.
  •  Make hair care fun. Hair care should be an enjoyable experience.

Get off to a good start by using no-tears shampoos and patting hair dry to eliminate the pain and suffering of hair washing. Play with suds, styling dramatic and funny do’s.

Managing your children’s hair gives you an opportunity to share an important common experience. Throughout your children’s lives, hair will be important, and if you use their hair to help instill pride in their looks, you help enhance their self-esteem.