Basic Hair Care

The hair is composed of three layers: an inner layer called the medulla; a middle layer called the cortex, which contains the pigments the provide hair color; and an outer covering layer called the cuticle.

Since the hair shaft is dead, it cannot repair itself.  The damage is permanent.  To once again have shiny, easy to manage hair, you must wait for new, undamaged hair growth to appear.  Hair products such as conditioners provide temporary improvement, but they may help to prevent further damage.

The goal of basic hair care, therefore, is to minimize damage to the cuticle layer.  And therefore all hair care should be gentle.

  • Shampoo gently.  The hair swells on contact with water and becomes more fragile when it is wet.  Wet the hair thoroughly with water that is not too hot.  Apply shampoo and work up a good lather.  Massage the scalp with the tips of the fingers instead of the fingernail to avoid scalp irritation.  Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of shampoo residue.  If your hair is oily or especially soiled, you may need a second lather to get the hair and scalp thoroughly clean. 
  • Use a conditioner following the shampoo.  A conditioner will coat the hair shaft with a thin film that smoothes down roughened cuticular cells and fills in the roughened, uneven surface.  Combing and brushing are then easier.  Hair doesn’t tangle as badly and regains its gloss and luster because light bounces more evenly off this smooth surface.
  • Wrap your hair in towel and pat it dry; don’t rub the hair.  Comb wet hair with a wide toothed, smooth-edged comb with blunt tips.  Never brush your wet hair, it may snap with pulling.  Work out tangles by combing gently, starting towards the end and working towards the scalp.
  • If you use heat-drying or styling appliances, make sure the temperature is not too high.  Set the dryer on medium instead of high.  It will take longer to dry your hair but you are less apt to cause unnecessary damage.  Don’t use curling iron and electric curlers on a daily basis.  Limit their use to two or three times per week at the most.  Use smooth-surfaced or foam rollers instead of brush rollers.  Brush your hair not more than is necessary for styling and use a natural-bristle or nylon brush that has blunt, rounded tips.
  • Protect the hair from the damaging and drying effects of the sun.  If you swim, be sure to promptly shampoo your hair to remove chlorine and other chemicals, or salt water, all of which may produce drying.