Tips for Easy Living

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Hair care made simple

Hair is typically taken for granted until something goes awry. Hair loss can result from genetics, disease or poor hair hygiene. While there's little a person can do about genetics or hair loss related to illness, good hair hygiene should be a part of everyone's beauty and grooming regimen.

A good head of hair can enhance a person's appearance. Hair hygiene is important, but many do not know where to begin, and myths abound when it comes to hair care. It's time to wash away the fiction from the facts.

* There is no need to shampoo every day. Some think they'll be left with a head of dirty, smelly hair if they do not lather up every day, but this is inaccurate. Most people can go a day or more between washing their hair, and waiting between washes actually can be beneficial. "Hair is fiber, and the more you wash it, the worse it's going to look," says Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist in California specializing in hair research. People with curly, dry or processed hair can probably go longer between washings than those with thin, straight hair. This enables oils from the scalp to travel down the hair shaft and keep the cuticle healthy.

* Conditioner can keep hair smooth and shiny. Some question the necessity for conditioner while others can't live without it. Those with coarse or dry hair usually find that conditioning a few times a week is necessary to tame hair and keep it shiny and looking healthy. On the flip side, those with naturally moist hair may not need to use conditioner more than once per week. Overuse of conditioner can actually contribute to making hair look dull, dry and weighed down. People with thin hair may only want to apply conditioner to the ends so as not to make hair flat and heavy. Many people need to experiment with conditioner to find a routine that works.

* More lather isn't necessarily better. Contrary to popular belief, shampoos that generate mounds of rich lather are not necessarily better for your hair. Sulfates are commonly used as lathering agents and may be the first ingredients in many commercially produced shampoos. Sulfates make water feel more wet and spread cleaning ingredients from the shampoo more readily across the hair shaft. However, these same cleansers can dehydrate the sebaceous glands and strip the scalp of essential oils and natural moisture. Many stylists recommend sulfate-free shampoos because they are more gentle on the hair. People who color their hair may find a sulfate-free shampoo helps retain their hair color longer.

* Brushing can be beneficial. While you may not need 100 strokes of the hair brush to achieve shiny hair, brushing hair gently each day can untangle the hair and help transfer oils from the scalp down the hair shaft and throughout the hair. The key is not to brush too often or too vigorously. Look for a brush with long, plastic bristles that bend. A brush with a rubber base with vents is also good. Do not brush so hard that you scratch your scalp or tear out hair from the roots. The goal is to prevent breakage.

Many hair situations not only can be remedied at home, but a person can also consult with a stylist to develop a hair care routine. People experiencing hair problems that are not easily fixed should speak to dermatologists, as such problems may be symptoms of medical issues.