Clean hair is one of the key factors in looking attractive and it can play an important role in overall health. Nothing looks worse than greasy lank hair and the oil and dirt in your locks can also be transferred to the skin on your face, neck, shoulders and back – leading to acne and other skin problems.
Washing Your Hair
While we all know how to wash our hair, we may not all be doing it correctly – in a way which not only effectively removes all grime and grease but also minimises damage to the hair, which is most vulnerable when wet.
The first step is to make sure that you comb any tangles out of your hair before you wet it, as once wet, the tangles will be even harder to remove. In fact, even if you have short hair, it is a good idea to give it a good brushing prior to washing as this will help to dislodge any loose dirt and dust.
Next, wet your hair thoroughly, ideally under the shower. Always let your hair hang down naturally, whether you wash it in the shower or the bath. Water temperature is a personal choice but warm water is best as it will help to open up the cuticles in the hair shaft and thus help to make sure all trapped oil and dirt is washed off.
Before using shampoo, rinse your hair thoroughly so that you remove any leave-on conditioner or other styling products you may have applied since your last hair wash. Now, you can massage a dollop of shampoo into your scalp, using gentle but firm strokes of your fingertips. Avoid scratching your scalp with your fingernails. Try to only apply shampoo to your scalp and not to the ends of your hair as that can cause the hair to dry out, weaken and split. For those with long hair, avoid piling it on top of your head to shampoo as this can actually cause more tangling and lead to damage and hair being pulled out.
Make sure also that you choose a shampoo which matches your hair type and colour, as well as catering to any special treatments you may have had which may have caused excessive damage to the hair. The range of commercial products nowadays is vast and you can choose shampoos which not only clean but also treat and protect hair with special needs.
Rinse all shampoo thoroughly from your hair and then in some cases, if hair is excessively dirty, you may wish to shampoo a second time. When rinsing your hair, let your hair hang naturally and let the water run down through your hair. You can use your finger to gently move the lather down the hair length but avoid rubbing your hair too roughly. A strong flow of clean water should do the trick.
Conditioning Your Hair
Once you have rinsed hair thoroughly, gently squeeze any excess (do not pull or tug – wet hair is very fragile) and then apply a conditioner appropriate for your hair type. Many people skip this step but it is actually a very important – not only does conditioner nurture your hair, especially if it has been subjected to damaging salon treatments, but it also protects your hair and allows you to comb it easily, thus protecting it from being pulled during styling. For those with hair that is inclined to frizz, conditioner also helps to keep this problem under control.
Having said that, it is also important not to apply too much conditioner. Thus it is best to apply just a small amount, from the middle of the hair length down to the ends. If you have very short hair, just a light coating on the ends will suffice. It may be a good idea to avoid applying conditioner to the scalp and roots of the hair as this can make the hair flatter. If you have long hair, wrap it loosely in a towel or secure it loosely on top of your head and then leave the conditioner to work – usually for the time it takes for you to wash your face and body and complete the rest of your shower.
Finally, rinse again very thoroughly and then turn the shower as cold as you can bear and give your hair a final rinse. Cold water helps to close the cuticles, smooth down the shafts and make hair shine. Again, gently squeeze excess water from your hair and do not tug or pull.
Drying Your Hair
DO NOT rub it with a towel! This is the most common mistake people make. Instead of piling hair on top of your head and rubbing it vigorously, let your hair hang down naturally and pat it dry gently with a towel. Even if you have short hair, do not rub your scalp but just gently pat to absorb excess moisture.
Do not brush your hair while damp as it is very fragile when wet but you can gently loosen any knots and tangles using a wide-tooth comb, starting from the ends and moving up towards the roots.
While it is best to let hair dry naturally, it may sometimes be necessary to blow-dry hair due to time constraints or for styling reasons and to give hair more volume. However, always try to use the lowest speed and heat setting and keep moving the hairdryer around the head, so as not to over-heat one particular area. Make sure that your hair is thoroughly towel-dried (i.e. not dripping) beforehand. Finally, turn your hairdryer off before hair is completely dry and let it finish drying naturally.