Are You Destroying Your Hair from Styling?
Americans spend more than $42 billion at salons with $2 billion on hair coloring products alone! But could your favorite new look be causing damage to your hair? Rachael's style buddy Kyan Douglas shares simple rules to keep your locks out of harm's way.
Hair anatomy. Your hair is comprised of three layers, Kyan explains, with the cuticle providing an outside layer like a shingle on a roof. "They just lay flat and they protect the inner part of the hair, which is called the cortex, and it's that inner part in the cortex that has the protein in the hair that makes it strong. It's also a part of the hair that we're dealing with when we do color or relaxing."
Avoid damage from coloring."In order to color hair, you have to lift the cuticle so the color can go in and do the depositing, so there is a chemical damage that happens," he says. "You can't change the fact that you've damaged your hair, but there are a few things you can do to manage it. One thing is to sort of be a little realistic ... If you have dark brown hair, rather than trying to come all the way down here on the color wheel and be a blonde, maybe you can play around in the middle area and be a light brown or a dark blonde. Try and play around with shades that are closer to your hair’s natural color."
Using relaxers. "A lot of people try to relax their hair on their own and that is not the way to do it," Kyan says. "There are a couple of different types of relaxers. If you try to do it yourself you might choose one that’s way too strong and unnecessarily so, and also, not all relaxers are compatible with one another, so if you try one and then try another another time, your hair could literally fall off! So go to a professional if you're going to have your hair relaxed."
Best way to approach a blowout. Kyan says blowouts are not that bad for your hair, since the heat is only temporarily changing the composition of your locks. You can manage the damage by following these steps:
• Use a protectant product with silicone to coat the cuticle.
• Get your hair 90 percent dry without using the nozzle attachment to your hair dryer. "Then when you're ready to style it, you put the nozzle back on, use a great brush like a boar hair brush and that's when you apply the heat and the tension to the hair. That way you're not putting that intense heat on your hair for a really long time."
• Use a boar's hair paddle brush. "Boar's hair really helps to smooth down that cuticle, giving you that smooth, silky look."
• Finish it off with the flat iron using just as much heat as you need to get the job done, but remember to only use this to complete the look. "In a salon, the flat iron is considered to be a finishing tool. It's not meant to get your hair straight."
How to test for damage. "You can do a simple elasticity test at home. Take a shower. When you get out, pluck a piece of hair and wrap your finger around the ends and give it a pull. If the hair breaks, that's bad news," Kyan says. "What should happen is you should be able to pull your hair a little bit; it'll stretch and then when you release the tension it should go back ... If it stretches and it stays stretched or it just breaks, your hair is damaged so you might want to be a little more cautious."
How to protect your hair from sun and chlorine."They make wonderful treatments these days. Kerastase is great, there are lots of different ones out there," Kyan suggests. "Especially if you're going away for the summer - you're going to be in the sun, chlorine - throw [the product] in your bag and use it once a week and it will really help to fortify your hair!"
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