Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to avoid unnecessary hair damage

Two of the things (nearly) everyone does are washing and detangling hair, the exceptions being those who do not wash they hair and those who have dreads. But, if you’re one of the many who wash and detangle their hair you might find this interesting. The hair is at its most fragile when wet, so it should be treated very gently when it is in this state.
In short:
- do not pile hair on top of your head when washing
- do not rub hair together when washing
- do not twist hair to get water out of it after washing
- do not rub your hair with a towel
- do not detangle your hair while its wet
- do not ever use hair brushes except for Boar Bristle Brushes (BBB are to be used on already detangled hair to move natural oils down the length, THIS is the brush that you're suppose to use for 100 strokes a day)
- do massage your scalp while washing
- do run your fingers through your hair while washing to distribute product
- do use a microfiber towel or t-shirt to dry hair
- do use wide seamless tooth combs to detangle your hair
- do detangle your hair before washing
All these damaging things should be avoided because split ends are caused by damage, mechanical damage is one of those that cause split ends. Heat styling/drying also cause split ends because they over dry the hair. Split ends should be avoided at all costs because not only do they look bad but the damage travels up the strand and it entangles neighboring strands causing tangles and yet more damage.
One of the most common things people do while washing their hair is pilling it on top of their head and/or rubbing it to wash it. This causes tangles and mechanical damage which can be easily avoided. Apply the shampoo (or whatever you use) on the scalp and massage it in. Use your finger pads to work the shampoo (or whatever you use) over your scalp. You can use small circular motions or just drag the fingers along the scalp. Make sure you cover your entire scalp and if you use non-sulfate shampoo or something weaker than sulfate shampoo, make sure you spend enough time to properly clean your scalp.
Massaging the scalp is not only beneficial for cleaning it but it also promotes circulation which can encourage your hair to grow faster, it helps get rid of dead hair that should have been shed but it is still clinging to your scalp, not to mention it feels really nice. :D
If you so choose you can distribute the shampoo (or whatever you use) through out the length by running your fingers through it in a combing motion, this will distribute your product without causing tangles. It is also a very good idea to detangle your hair before getting in the shower to wash it, that way you won’t have problems distributing shampoo, conditioner or whatever else you use through out your length.
A lot of people rub their hair with a towel and twist the hair to remove excess water. Like I said before hair is at its weakest when wet and doing either or these things will result in unnecessary damage.
In order to get rid of excess water it is enough to squeeze the hair between your palms or fingers and run them from top to bottom (some refer to this as squeegeeing out the water). Twisting it might cause breakage and sometimes tangles.
You can also use a towel to pat the hair in order to remove water and then wrap it in the towel for a while to let it absorb water. Rubbing it on your hair will most likely cause breakage and it will always cause tangles.
Very good alternatives to regular towels are microfiber towels, turbie twists (which are made from microfiber) and t-shirts. Microfiber towels and turbie twists are better at absorbing water than regular towels, this will cut your drying time in half and eliminate some frizz. Cotton t-shirts are also a good alternative if you don’t want to invest in a microfiber towel.
As a rule I will always advise against using a blow-dryer or any kind of heat to dry hair. Heat damages hair by over-drying it, which leads to split ends and frizz. One should always air dry. However if that’s not an option for you, use either the cold setting or the lowest heat setting and use a heat protectant, this will not entirely eliminate heat damage, or mechanical damage from having your hair blown around by air but it will be less damaging than high heat and no protection.
Air dying is the best option and if you use a microfiber towel it should only take about and hour, you can speed things up by fanning your hair gently with your hands as it dries and trying to separate strands as you do it, if the strands are stuck together by water they are going to take longer to dry.
Under no circumstances should you comb, brush, or detangle your hair while it is wet. Your hair is at it’s weakest when wet and it will not have the ability to bounce back as it does when dry, so it will stretch and break causing spit ends. You should only detangle your hair while it is dry, do so before washing it and after it has dried. If your hair is curly or wavy you should never ever detangle your hair when it’s wet unless you want you hair to be super frizzy, and your curls/waves not be well defined. And if your hair is really curly/kinky you should only detangle it when you have conditioner in it, if I were you I’d apply conditioner on dry hair, detangle my hair then wash it.
If you absolutely have to detangle it while it is wet, finger combing is your safest option, the second safest option is a wide tooth detangling comb with no seams, usually made from bone or wood if you want to avoid static. Always check your combs for seams on their teeth, these seams will snag your hair strands breaking them and damaging them. If you don’t want to invest in an expensive new comb then just buy a cheap plastic wide tooth comb (they have those at the dollar store) and sand down the seams to make it safe for your hair, you can use a simple nail file for this if you want or fine sand paper if you have it (these can also be found cheaply at the dollar store).
I would say as a rule avoid brushes if you have long hair, they are not hair safe. Why? Because they have a lot of teeth for a bigger surface than a comb and they are close together. This makes it more difficult for hair to pass through it and it will hit each and every tangle HARD and not give you a chance to gently work through them. If you absolutely love brushes and cannot do without them, use them after you detangled your hair and try to stay clear of plastic tooth brushes because they cause static and they tend to have imperfections that damage hair strands, also stay away from brushes with bulbs at the tips because hair gets caught in them and pulled out or broken.
The only brushes that are ok to use are boar bristle brushes and those are NOT used for detangling, they are used to distribute natural oils (sebum) or other product you use to condition your dry hair from ends to tip. Boar Bristle Brushes are the ones that are suppose to be used for 100 strokes a day because they condition the length and ends of your hair. They should always be used on hair that is already detangled and should usually be avoided by curlies/wavies because they tend to cause frizz. Brushes in general cause frizz for curlies/wavies because they spread apart the natural waves curls causing way too much volume.
How to detangle hair
Always start at the ends and work your way up 2-3 inches at a time. This is the best way to do it because otherwise you’re just pushing tangles causing an increasingly bigger cluster of tangles as you go down your length. But if you start at the bottom you have less tangles to deal with and as you work your way up you only have new tangles to deal with, the ones lower down have already been removed so you can work the new ones down much easier and faster.
If you run into a knot STOP and gently pull apart the knot with your hands, this should always be done with knots no matter what you use to detangle your hair. If you just try to push through the knots you will break your hair, not to mention it will hurt because it will pull at your scalp, which makes it both unpleasant and damaging.

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