They say you have to suffer for beauty and our hair is just one aspect that really suffers. We twist, scorch, yank, iron and dye it in order to get it looking just the way we want it, but in our attempt to beautify ourselves, we can often leave our hair far more damaged than when we started out.
Here are the six common ways we wreak havoc on our crowning glory and how to avoid doing that same damage next time:
Blondes have more fun
In order to get your hair that platinum blonde colour a la Gwen Stefani, we resort to peroxide. The chemicals within the bleach penetrate the hair cuticle and then oxidize to strip the melanin (which is responsible for the colour in your hair) from your hair so that it’s left colourless. Once the colour has been stripped, blonde dye is applied.
These chemicals can cause breakage, brittle hair, damage to your hairs cuticles and if incorrectly applied, even hair loss.
Experts advise limiting bleaching hair to a bare minimum by only bleaching the roots as they grow out. Avoid applying bleach to the whole head every time as this is a surefire way of causing major damage to your hair!
Just want another colour
Normal hair dye can also be damaging because the core formation of your hair is changed during the chemical process. It's similar to bleaching as the melanin is stripped from your hair usually through hydrogen peroxide followed by ammonia which opens the hair shaft so that the dye can attach onto the hair, leaving your hair brittle and feeling like straw.
Next time you're tempted to try a different hair colour, choose hair dye that contains no ammonia, or better still, try natural hair dyes like Henna which aren’t as harsh to your locks.
Burn baby burn
Styling with heat can literally fry your hair. Heat causes temporary changes to the hydrogen bonds in hair, literally restructuring the hair to make it curly or straight. Flat irons and blow dryers have heat settings that sometimes go up to a scorching 200 degrees Celsius.
If you can't go without heat treatments, then make sure you follow these golden rules:
- Try to limit your use to once or twice a week
- Always apply heat-protectant to your hair beforehand.
- NEVER apply a flat iron or blow dryer set to its hottest setting on wet hair- it's a surefire way to damage hair instantly. Instead, make sure you gently blow dry your locks using the medium setting on your hair dryer first before applying heat treatment.
All stitched up
Last week, Naomi Campbell was spotted with a ragged and receding hairline thanks to wearing weaves pretty much constantly. Sadly for her, the result is rather serious as she suffers from a condition known as traction alopecia – gradual hair loss due to the trauma of excessive pulling (traction) of hair from the root – which according to experts can leave the hair follicle so permanently damaged it might never grow back.
In order to attach and keep a hair piece in place extensions and weaves are either glued or sewn into existing hair.
Though hair extensions and weaves can keep your natural hair in a protective style, the tightness of the braids puts a lot of pressure around your crown and hairline and the result can mean major and irreparable damage like Campbell is currently suffering from.
Experts advise women take a break between extensions and remember to take heed that if you feel any discomfort or pain on your scalp it’s a sign of too much pressure at the roots.
Relax, take it easy
Relaxing is a permanent chemical process that as the name suggests “relaxes” tightly curled or coiled hair making it straighter and by changing the structure of the hair shaft. The process chemically changes the curly pattern of the hair making it prone to breakage, dryness and split ends.
On top of the chemical process, we often apply heat by way of a flat iron to relaxed hair to keep it looking sleek and straight, as well as do touch-ups to the roots leaving our hair extremely fragile.
If you worried about the amount of damage you placing onto your hair but feel your curls are too unruly or unmanageable, try a texturizer - it's slightly less harsh than a chemical relaxer, turning curly hair wavy.
When it's hot out, the last thing you're thinking about is the state of your hair. The temptation to leap into a cool pool is far greater than the need to take good care of your hair, but pooll chemicals, combined with the harsh summer sun can wreak havoc on your locks.
The chlorine used as to kill the bacteria in pools can really dry out hair.
Experts suggest rinsing hair with luke-warm water after a swim in highly chlorinated water so that the chlorine doesn't sit for too long in your hair, as well as using good quality conditioner to help your hair contain its moisture during the summer months. And if all that is still not enough, wear a swimming cap.