The dos and don'ts of hair care to live by for healthy and happy locks

PHOTO: Unsplash

We tend to forget that our hair deserves just as much attention as our skin. You don’t necessarily need to implement a 12- step routine like you can with skin, but owning the right products that you can mix and match will change your hair game drastically.

From masks to deep conditioning treatments, styling tools and scalp treatments , today’s market has a category and an answer for every and any hair struggle. There are plenty of possibilities to choose from, but that means picking the right ones can get a bit overwhelming.

The haircare market is growing exponentially and many skincare brands are getting into the game and releasing their own hair products. Some are even formulating full hair care collections – in March, for example, Fenty Hair was trademarked by Rihanna.

Brands like Ouai by celebrity stylist Jen Atkins; DAE Hair, a hair line inspired by the US state of Arizona; the bee-inspired Gisou line by Negin Mirsalehi; and Olaplex dominate the current market, where everything is about functionality and real results.

PHOTO: Quai

Still, do we really need things like hair treatment masks? Is it OK to dye your hair at home? How often should you wash it, really? We’ve asked ourselves these questions and a dozen more hundreds of times but, like with skin, answers can vary as we have different hair textures, patterns and lifestyles.

No matter your hair type or the levels of humidity you’re facing, though, there are some basic rules you need to keep in mind when streamlining your haircare heroes.

The question of questions in the haircare world. Opinions about this matter are often polarised, but there’s one rule all experts stand by: washing your hair every day is a big no.

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Doing so can over-dry and damage it, as the scalp produces natural oils that are necessary for hair to stay healthy. Wash it too often with shampoo and you’re getting rid of that oil.

The final answer will be directly linked to your hair type and factors such as working out, pollution, heat styling and even UV exposure but, generally speaking, washing it every two to three days is considered enough.

In short: yes, we do. Hot tools, the chemicals in our styling and colour products, UV rays, environmental conditions and even medication are factors that can damage hair on a daily basis.

The ingredients in a deep conditioner are especially formulated to hydrate, nurture and soften your hair. Using a deep conditioning treatment regularly will also improve your hair’s elasticity and help prevent breakage.

Dae Hair Prickly Pear hair oil. Use a deep conditioning treatment to improve your hair’s elasticity.
PHOTO: Dae Hair

We tend to define our hair as either dry or oily and call it a day, but there are different elements to keep in mind to determine its type: texture (straight, wavy, curly or coily), structure (thin, medium or thick), porosity (it absorbs all, some or little moisture), and scalp condition (oily, normal or dry).

Once you find out where your hair fits in each of these categories, you’ll realise it is a mix of types. Being aware of that will make it easier to choose the right products.

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How does heat styling affect my hair?

Hot tools like straighteners, curling wands and blow dryers are great to change up your hairstyles, but they can also deeply damage your hair as they can cause dehydration, water loss, oxidation of pigment particles and protein damage.

If improperly used or if used without a heat protectant, you’re putting your hair under lots of stress, and the damage can be severe and sometimes irreversible.

Coola SPF30 Scalp & Hair mist. Our scalp needs proper cleansing, hydration and exfoliation, too.
​​PHOTO: Coola

To repair and maintain your hair’s health, we need to get to the root of it … literally. Our scalp, just like the skin on the rest of our bodies, needs proper cleansing, hydration and exfoliation, as it’s the base where our hair follicles live.

Rashuna Durham, a pro team stylist at brand Amika, says: “A clean scalp will promote good cell turnover and a healthy environment for optimal hair growth. All great hair starts with a healthy scalp [ …] It is important to stimulate blood circulation around the roots of the hair, which energises the scalp and promotes hair growth. Nourishing the scalp and rehydrating it to prevent breakage.”

Amika Exfoliating Jelly shampoo. Wash your hair too often with shampoo and you’re getting rid of natural oils that keep it healthy.
PHOTO: Amika

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Is brushing my hair important?

Brushing your hair goes way further than getting rid of knots. Doing so daily helps distribute your hair’s natural oils all the way to your ends, which in turns provides you with more hydrated, overall healthier locks.

Each stroke will help reduce leftover impurities or excess build-up on your hair, making the styling process and daily maintenance easier.

How does the sun affect my hair?

The vitamin D we get from the sun can be great for your hair’s health and growth but, at the same time, sun exposure is the single most frequent cause of structural hair damage.

Sunlight, and the UV rays that come with it, can damage the proteins and pigments in your hair, leading to protein loss, weaker structure, dehydration, frizz and colour opacity.

To avoid these issues, either wear a hat whenever you’re exposed to the sun or get a leave-in conditioner or hair oil with SPF.

Sun Bum SPF hair mist. Sun exposure is the single most frequent cause of structural hair damage.
PHOTO: Sun Bum

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What can I do to control frizz?

Living Proof anti-frizz shampoo and conditioner.
PHOTO: Living Proof

Humidity is not, believe it or not, always the cause. Using hair products formulated with sulphates and/or alcohols, going too high with your shower temperature, constantly touching your hair, towel drying, hot styling tools, and over-brushing could be affecting your hair’s structure, too.

So, no matter how many anti-frizz products you use , without fixing these issues first, getting rid of frizz will always feel almost impossible.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.