A number of common hair styling tricks and tools can be harmful to your follicles. Make sure your hair gets the nourishment it needs to stay healthy.
Hair dryers, curling and flat irons, dyes and straighteners: All or many are on the everyday list of styling solutions people take advantage of in the ongoing quest for that elusive good hair day. And why not? They’ve proven to be useful over the years for trendy styles and colors.
But is getting the look we want worth the potential damage were doing to our hair when we apply these styling tools? Two of the most harmful aspects of our daily beauty regimen involve high heat and over-processing. In other words, we inflict damage on our hair each time we break out the hair dryer or coloring.
People love the flowing, blow-dried look they get from using a hair dryer. Women in particular use blow dryers and high heat to excess, which dries out and damages the hair. Meanwhile, over-processing can harm hair texture, manageability and feel because of the harsh chemicals in many highlights, dyes and straighteners. Eliminate those two and you’ll eliminate many of the ongoing issues affecting your hair. It’s also important to note that your hair can be damaged by everyday behavior such as not adequately protecting your hair and scalp from sun damage, poor nutrition or smoking.
Age also takes its toll: Just like skin becomes dry and coarse, the oils produced on your scalp decrease as the years pass. Take the example of a teenager whose skin and hair create a large amount of oil. Their hair has a nice shine to it. As the oil your scalp produces diminishes over time, less of it travels down your hair shaft, and with it, the smooth, shiny appearance we desire.
Because hair dries out with treatment and age, you’ll need to wash it less frequently; ridding it of natural oils is no longer as necessary. Once or twice a week is usually enough for women, unless they frequently exercise and their hair gets sweaty. Also try and limit your hair dryer usage to once or twice a week, and when you have to use it, use a lower setting and don’t apply the hot air too closely to your scalp and hair. It will be less likely to damage your hair and ends.
A quality conditioner used once a week while showering can also restore some of the moisture to your hair and give it a more silky feel. Hot oil treatments such as argan oil are becoming popular again to help get back the sheen that is lost over the years. And while we can’t turn back those hands of time, by limiting our hairs exposure to high heat, restricting harsh chemical treatments and breaking out of the habit of over-washing, we can keep our hair healthy, shiny and looking its best.
Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D., is a Miami-based dermatologist who practices in both a private practice and academic setting. She has been featured as an expert dermatologist on hair care in numerous broadcast, print and digital media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, WebMD, O, Allure and Prevention magazines. An internationally recognized expert in skin of color, Dr. Woolery-Lloyd also serves on the Board of Directors for the Skin of Color Society and has served on the Diversity Task Force for the American Academy of Dermatology.