Keeping your hair healthy can be difficult these days with straighteners and the sun doing damage to your hair, but you can still do your best to keep your hair in tip top condition. Here are some tips to get the best out of your hair.
Shampooing Your Hair
Wash your hair with the appropriate Shampoo (see Choosing Shampoo & Conditioner).
Only use a small amount of shampoo, roughly the size of a 2 pence piece.When applying the shampoo to the hair, ensure you spread the product evenly through your hands, then apply to the root area first.
Gently massage the shampoo around the scalp with your fingertips or pads of your fingers, working your way down the hair to the mid-lengths then ends.
Once you have spread the shampoo evenly throughout your hair, you can then massage more vigorously until you feel you have worked the product all the way through, and thoroughly cleansed both your hair and scalp, this usually takes around 2 minutes.
Try not to rub too hard as this can tangle the hair which can then lead to damage.
Rinse the hair well, again trying not to tangle hair in the process, and then apply a second shampoo if necessary. If you do, use less shampoo than before and massage for less time.
Rinse well until all product is removed and squeeze the excess water out of your hair with your fingers, then gently blot dry with a towel. Take care not to rub too hard with the towel as hair is at its WEAKEST when wet.
Tip - if you use styling products, always shampoo twice to ensure all product residue and build-up is removed from your hair and scalp.
Conditioning Your Hair
After choosing your appropriate Conditioner, (see Choosing Shampoo & Conditioner) massage a 2 pence piece size of the conditioner into your hands and apply through towel dried damp hair, (soaking wet hair only dilutes the conditioner.)
Don't worry about applying conditioner to the roots, it shouldn't make your hair feel greasy/oily if you use the right product for your hair type, and rinse it out thoroughly.
Comb your hair through with your fingers to ensure the conditioner is evenly spread throughout your hair, while gently rubbing it in to the lengths and ends with the pads of your fingers. Then you can comb through with a wide tooth-comb, or scalp massaging/conditioning brush. Don't use a normal blow-drying bristle brush as this can pull and damage the hair.
Usually you can leave the conditioner on for a couple of minutes to soak in to the hair, 1 to 2 minutes is usually ample, any longer is generally not necessary as it wont do much more to the hair.
Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water. Massage your scalp gently whilst the water runs through it as this helps to remove all traces of the excess conditioner. It is best to focus on getting the conditioner from the root area first before you concentrate on the mid-lengths and ends.
Make sure you reach all areas around the scalp including the crown and the nape areas. Rinse for round 2-3 minutes. You can follow with a cool rinse as this has been known to help add shine to the hair.
Once you have rinsed out the conditioner thoroughly, your hair should feel slightly squeaky clean. Again don't rub dry with a towel, instead blot the water out of the hair nice and gently.
Apply a light Leave-in Conditioner spray or cream to detangle hair if knotty.
Tip - While the conditioner is on your hair for a couple of minutes, gently massage your scalp with your fingertips to encourage healthy blood flow to the scalp to nourish the hair follicles.
Hair Mask/Conditioning Treatment
Conditioning treatments are applied after shampooing and towel drying hair. If the treatment is mainly protein based you may need to apply a light conditioner once you have rinsed the treatment as the hair may feel slightly rough (protein treatments strengthen hair rather than just moisturise which is why you may need to add moisture with a conditioner afterwards.)
Treatments should be applied like a conditioner, to the ends first then the mid-lengths and then the roots with the last remnants on your hands.
They are usually left to soak into the hair for between 5-15 minutes depending on the manufacturers instructions.
Some treatments can be left overnight. Some work best with heat, a plastic head cap can be used to gain heat from the scalp to intensify the treatment.
Ensure the treatment is rinsed thoroughly and then gently squeeze water out and blot dry. Apply the conditioner if necessary.
Blow-drying Your Hair
After applying the desired blow-drying products AND Heat Protector to your hair, blast the hair with your hair dryer and remove up to 70% of the water (less if your hair is very curly and you are blow-drying straight, usually 40% will be ok.)
Take care when blasting your hair dry, keep the hair dryer facing down the hair shaft and try not to blow the hair too vigorously which can create tangles.
Choose the Appropriate Brush and section the hair ready to blow-dry.
Take care not to place the hairdryer on the brush or too close to the hair while blow-drying as this can frazzle the hair. Instead keep the hair dryer moving at all times and away from the hair by at least an inch.
Don't over blow dry the hair and don't use a high heat on weak or damaged hair.
Brushing Your Hair
Try not to brush your hair more often than necessary as the hair can become weak and damaged with the constant pulling of the hairbrush.
Never tug at a knot with a brush/comb, instead try to find the knot and undo with your fingers first. Brushing hair excessively can stimulate the hair follicle and can sometimes lead to hair becoming oily.
Styling Your Hair
Try not to tie your hair up too tight as this can cause stress on your hair follicles, which can sometimes lead to tension alopecia (hair loss) if the hair is pulled tight for long enough.
Don't use too many harsh styling products on your hair on a regular basis. Strong hairsprays, hard gels and thick waxes can be difficult to remove out of your hair and may need a special clarifying shampoo.
Don't spray hairspray too close to your hair as it can leave a white residue which looks like you have paint in your hair, and can be very difficult to remove.
Straightening Your Hair
ALWAYS use Heat Protector when using heated appliances including hair dryers, curling tongs, hair crimpers and especially straightening irons, as these can be hotter than any other appliance for the hair.
Just imagine if your hair straighteners touched your bare skin, this would be very painful and probably cause blistering, now imagine how your hair feels.
Use Hair Conditioning Treatments on a regular basis, moisture based to prevent dryness and protein based to replace lost strength and elasticity in the hair.
Sunshine/Going On Holiday
Direct hot sunlight can damage hair from the heat and the harmful UV rays.
Hair colour tends to fade, especially red colours, and the hair can become dry and damaged.
To protect your hair from sun damage, use a Heat Protector Spray prior to sun exposure and if possible use products which contain some form of Sun-screen.
In the hottest past of the day, cover your hair with a bandana or wear a hat to ensure you don't burn your hair or scalp.
Although not the most fetching of accessories a swimming hat is great for keeping your hair tangle free whilst swimming, or a loose fitting hair bobble is good. Never an elastic band as this can break the hair.
Use Anti-chlorine or Clarifying shampoo/conditioner after swimming in a pool with chlorine as it can be damaging to your hair by drying it out, and make sure to condition well too.
Get your hair trimmed on a regular basis, generally every four to six weeks to keep it looking healthy, shiny and split-end free.
Use a colour shampoo on coloured hair and protein treatments on bleached hair.