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Choosing the Right Shampoo and Conditioner

[12 Sep 2010 | No Comments | 73 views | Author: Dee Braun, DrR, CA, CCT]
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Choosing the Right Shampoo and ConditionerYou know when your hair just doesn’t do what you want, doesn’t feel soft and silky but instead feels rough? You struggle to find just the right combination of shampoo, daily conditioner, deep conditioner and nutrition that will make your hair flow and move like the models on the commercials.

Well, in order to find just the right combination there are a few details that you should know first. Understanding how hair grows and develops should help you to more fully evaluate your own situation so you can control the frizz, tame the curl or just make those long locks lie straight.

Hair is important to the appearance of both men and women. It helps create gender identity and is the only structure that is completely renewable without leaving a scar. As a baby develops it has all of the hair follicles formed by 22 weeks. Approximately 100,00 of the 5 million follicles on the body are found on the head. Follicles aren’t added during life but as our bodies grow larger the density of the hair decreases and the skin size increases.

Hair is made of two different structures. There is the follicle in the skin that is living and the hair shaft that we see which are actually dead cells. Hair cells divide every 23 to 72 hours, which is faster than any other cells in the body. This is one of the reasons that those who receive chemotherapy cancer treatments lose their hair. The treatments attack the quickly replicating cells and hair replicates faster than others.

At the base of each shaft is a sebaceous gland which produces a natural conditioner for the hair. There is more sebum, or natural conditioner, produced after puberty. This is why young children can go longer without washing their hair and it doesn’t appear oily. Then as people grow older this production begins to decrease.

The shaft, or the hair that we see, is made of dead, hard protein called keratin. There are three layers, the largest of which is the cortex. The outermost layer is the cuticle. Most conditioning products attempt to affect the cuticle of the hair.

Now that the mystery of hair has been untangled its time to untangle the mystery of shampoo and conditioner. Before choosing one that you want to try for your individual needs take a close look at your hair type. You have curly, course, straight, limp, dry, processed/colored, or oily hair. And your hair can be a combination curly course or limp oily fine.

Curly hair is more naturally dry than straight hair because the natural conditioners produced at the scalp dont slide down a curly shaft as quickly and easily as a straight shaft. For this reason people with curly hair should look for shampoos that are moisturizing, hydrating, creamy and with mild cleansing agents. Wheat germ oil, nut oils or shea butter work well for shampooing hair that needs a bit more extra tender loving care.

Conditioners for hair that is course and curly should be done daily. Look for conditioners that are ultra-moisturizing or hydrating. And then use an extra hot oil treatment once a month. A homemade deep conditioner is made with olive oil, mayonnaise and one egg. Warm the olive oil and mayonnaise slightly and then whip in one egg. Put this on your head and cover your head with a plastic bag to keep in the heat. Keep this in place for 30 minutes and then wash out.

Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner for fine, oily or limp hair can sometimes be challenging. Fine hair is more susceptible to looking oily and can look this way after only one day. The natural conditioners on the hair slide down the shaft fairly quickly making it appear oily quickly.

When you are looking for a shampoo stay away from the creamy ones and look for gentle shampoos that are marked for daily or frequent washing. The secret to shampoo for fine hair is the ingredient panthenol. Experts believe that this penetrates the cuticle making the shaft swell and thicker. You can also use a dry shampoo or talcum powder based dry shampoo to soak up the oils and add body.

Not all limp, straight hair needs conditioners. If you can easily comb through the hair after a shampoo you may want to condition only 2 or 3 times each week. If you are able add conditioner to the ends of the hair to help combing but keep it away from the scalp. A spray conditioner may be lighter weight and better for fine hair.

Another challenge when choosing the right shampoo and conditioner is that many women have hair that has been processed permed, colored or relaxed. If hair has been over processed the hair can suffer oily roots but a dry shaft and ends. This makes washing a conditioning tricky. You have to clean the roots and moisturize the ends. Concentrate on cleaning the scalp with a shampoo for normal hair but then use a strong conditioner from the middle of the hair down.

If your hair is colored you’ll want to preserve the color as long as possible. There are a plethora of shampoos that are specially formulated for colored hair. However, other experts say that these are just another way to make money. You are looking for a shampoo that is gentle on the hair, that can be baby shampoo or shampoo made for colored hair.

When you are conditioning hair that has been processed look for a conditioner that is used primarily for the ends of your hair. Avoid ones that contain silicone because that chemical tends to strip the hair of color. To preserve the color even longer shampoo only every other day if possible. Use a dry shampoo between washings.

Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner for dry damaged hair may actually be the easiest. You want to avoid clear shampoos and go straight to the creamy, moisturizing, hydrating ones. These will smooth, detangle and diffuse static. Add moisture whereever you can so get a strong conditioner that is ultra-moisturizing. You wont over moisturize.


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