HAIR and the scalp must be kept scrupulously clean. Our grandmothers and mothers followed a regular ritual of washing hair. Hair and the scalp were anointed and massaged with oils and washed with reetha (soapnut), shikakai and other herbal extracts.
Washing of hair has assumed greater importance today, specially for city dwellers because we are exposed to many chemical pollutants, dirt, smoke etc., which cling to the hair, making it necessary to wash your hair frequently.
One of the most frequently asked questions is how often one should wash hair. Actually, washing does not harm hair. It is the product that you use that can be harmful.
Harsh shampoos can strip the hair of its natural oil and leave an acidic residue on the scalp and this can cause damage. You should wash hair as often as you need to in order to keep the scalp and hair in good condition. The frequency of your shampoo depends on your
* whether your hair is dry or oily.
* the season - during humid weather you need to wash your hair more frequently.
* the area you live in - rural or urban and the pollution level.
* the general condition of your hair. For instance if your hair has suffered damage due to the use of permanent wave lotions or chemical dyes or exposure to hair dryers - less frequent shampooing is recommended.
Choosing a shampoo
Shampoos come in various forms including creams, semi liquids and gels. These are different shampoo bases. Some are gentler on hair and skin than others. The detergent content in shampoos for greasy hair is higher than those for normal or dry hair. The balance of the various ingredients in a shampoo is important, so is their ability to deal with different hair types and conditions.
So, while choosing a shampoo, do not go by the brand name but by the contents that suit your hair.
Dry hair: Choose a shampoo which is formulated to nourish dry hair - look for ingredients that contain oil e.g. coconut, palm, almond etc., as these help to soften hair.
Oily hair: Oily hair needs to be gently cleaned without causing any irritation to the scalp. Use a shampoo which contains Camoline - this makes hair shiny. Lemon shampoo - this contains lemon essence or citric acid and helps to cut grease and gives shine.
Coloured hair: If you use a dye or henna - it adds artificial pigment to the hair - it requires special care to keep hair healthy, make the colour last long and add shine. A number of companies make shampoos for coloured hair. One of the best is L'oreal.
Dandruff, itchy scalp: You need to use a medicated or treatment shampoo. These shampoos usually contain Cetrimide and Selenium Sulphide.
Preperm shampoo: If you perm your hair - make sure that your hairdresser uses a preperm shampoo.
Tips for cleansing and washing hair:
Wet your hair thoroughly before applying shampoo. Do not use very hot water or hard water to wash. Using a lot of shampoo does not make your hair cleaner, but only leads to depletion of oil and moisture. Apply shampoo with a light massage, working into the scalp and hair with fingertips. Rinse your hair well after shampoo to get rid of the soapy residue.
To dry your hair, first wrap your head in a towel and let it soak the excess water. Then gently blot your hair instead of vigorously rubbing with the towel. Do not brush or comb wet hair. Use a wide tooth comb to get all the tangles out, working from the ends upwards. Avoid using hair dryers as much as possible. Let the hair dry naturally.
Hair conditioning: Beautiful hair is one that is shiny, has resilience and elasticity, neither too limp nor too dry.
Our hair suffers from the abuses rendered by the city environment - the water we drink and wash our hair with is laden with chemicals. That is not all - we use harsh chemical treatments like perming, colouring etc. Emotional crisis, hormonal problems and adverse weather conditions add to all this. Resulting in split ends, dryness or oiliness, limpness etc. This is when a conditioner comes to the rescue.
A conditioner is a beauty preparation that improves the texture of the hair and makes them easily manageable. There are conditionerses for various types of hair and are applied after shampooing.
Conditioning is an important aspect of the haircare routine. Almost all kinds of hair need conditioning to some extent or the other. Conditioning is usually carried out to rejuvenate the hair which has been usually robbed off its vitality. Conditioning is a restorative routine and falls in the category of preventive haircare routine.
There are two kinds of conditioners — one that are rinsed out and the other that you leave on the hair.
The special cream rinse conditioners are designed to untangle the frizz in the hair. Many also add the welcome beauty benefit of gloss to the hair. The cream rinse coats the hair to help minimise stress due to brushing, combing, setting and keeps breakage and split ends under control. Cream rinses only softens hair.
Deep conditioning is done when hair is in a very damaged condition and is brittle and broken. Deep conditioners contain large amounts of protein and for these proteins to get absorbed, deep conditioners should be applied for a longer time. In short, conditioners help to restore body and bounce to limp hair, to restore the acid mantle and remove the snarls and helps restore the loss of moisture.
Choose the conditioner according to the condition of your hair. If you have frizzy, tangled hair, go in for a moisturising cream conditioner. For coloured damaged hair, use a conditioner formulated for coloured hair. Choose the shampoo and conditioner made by the same company. If your hair is badly damaged, go to a salon and get a deep conditioning done.
Tips for conditioning
Shampoo your hair and let the excess water drain away.
Take the conditioner in your palm and apply on your hair.
Divide hair into sections and spread the conditioner throughout the hair. You can use a wide tooth comb to spread it.
Leave it on the hair for 1 to 3 minutes.
Rinse with water.
Mix the following to prepare the magic rinse.
1 tsp of castor oil + 1 tsp of amla oil on Brahmi Oil + 1 tsp of Malt vinegar + 1 tsp of glycerine + 1 tsp of shampoo. The castor oil gives body to hair, the herbal oil acts like hair tonic, vinegar restores the acid mantle, glycerine moisturises and the shampoo helps to blend the ingredients. Before washing hair, apply this mixture to the hair gently and have it on for 20 minutes. Then wash it off with a shampoo and feel the marvellous change in your hair texture.
For oily hair - mix heena with 2 table spoons of yoghurt and a pinch of sugar to a light paste, add a bit of water if the paste is thick and apply. Leave it for 20 minutes. Rinse well.
For dry hair - mix heena + 1 table spoon of oil (any natural oil) and add enough warm milk to make a paste, apply and have it on your for 20 minutes and wash it off. Henna conditioners give colour, sheen and body to hair.