What Kills Hair

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katyandgeorge / Pixabay

By Jay Lamb, Hairstylist

Hair is the most tortured part of the body. In many ways it’s just like arms and spleens and belly buttons, but it’s missing two essential things that would have saved it: blood and nerves. Hair gets regular surgery with no anaesthetic; it gets welded, branded and tortured with screaming hot electrical devices; it gets grabbed, wrestled down and crammed into an elastic like a calf at a rodeo, and of course it gets coloured and bleached, sometimes in a humane way, sometimes within an inch of its life. I’m not so sure nature had all of that in mind when it left out blood and nerves — or maybe it knew what was coming.

So, what are the villains? What kills hair? And on the flip side, what will resurrect it?

Things that make hair want to run away:

  • Bleach (also called “lightener”) can be a blessing or a villain. In my opinion, bleach is often overused and abused. There are other ways to create highlights in the hair besides bleach, and they are much less damaging. There’s nothing inherently wrong with bleach, just like there’s nothing inherently wrong with chocolate (if you catch my drift).
  • Straightening Irons are one of the great inventions in hairstyling and I use them. But most have the capability to reach over 425 degrees. It’s difficult to put that into perspective but suffice it to say that if hair could scream, it would. I’m not suggesting you don’t use them, but experiment with the temperature and find a moderate setting.
  • Round Brushes are not inherently harmful, they just get used in harmful ways. People sometimes roll them into the hair rather tightly, then point a screaming hot blow dryer half an inch from it. “Ouch!” is an understatement. This happens most often on bangs and causes breakage and burnt hair. Always keep the dryer a few inches away, and keep it moving.
  • The sun, the beautiful sun. Life giving, in moderation, damaging in excess. When you go on a holiday to a hot place, simply be aware, find balance. Cover your hair as much as you can, let it drift and play in the breeze when you feel like it. Make a conscious choice.
  • Salt and chlorine in swimming pools are hair assassins, especially on coloured hair and porous hair. But swim, please swim, if you love it. If you can wear a cap, please do. Use a salon quality swimmers shampoo when you come out of the pool and make sure you use good quality shampoo and conditioner the rest of the time.

Here’s what makes hair happy:

  • Not washing it more than you need to.
  • Being careful when combing out tangles.
  • Being careful when putting in and taking out elastics.
  • Deep conditioning treatments, especially with some gentle heat.
  • A good hairdresser who genuinely cares about the condition of your hair.
  • Eating well, living with balance and awareness.
  • Loving everyone the best you can, including yourself. I’m not sure if that helps your hair, but it feels so darn good, you might as well.