Hair comes in a huge variety of colors, textures, and natural styles. All hair grows from the hair follicle and the shape of the follicle determines whether the hair is curly or straight. When the follicle is asymmetrical the hair grows in an oval shape and appears curly. In general, hair may be classified as straight, wavy, curly, very curly/kinky, slightly coiled, coiled, tightly coiled, kinky, and very kinky. Hair that is on the curlier side of the spectrum tends to be drier, and therefore, should be washed less frequently than straight hair. When a person has a greater density of hair follicles they will have the appearance of full, voluminous hair. The thickness of the individual hair shafts also affects the appearance of the hair and the ideal hair care. For example, finer hair has thinner individual hairs and this type of hair may be more prone to breakage and damage with heat-based styling techniques. Overall, the type of hair that you have comes from your genes, but you may notice changes in your hair over time as the result of hormonal fluctuations or aging.
Did you know that we are actually covered head to toe with hair? With the exception of our lips, palms of our hands, and soles of our feet, every part of our skin grows hair. The hair that grows on our body stays shorter than the hair on our heads and helps regulate our body temperature. Our eyelashes and eyebrows may make our faces look more attractive but they also serve an important role in protecting our eyes.
There are many diverse types of hair but all can be healthy, beautiful, and help us express our personal style. Many hair classification systems (like numerical systems) can be flawed in that they focus only on the shape of the hair emerging from the hair follicle. They fail to take into account other qualities that affect the hair, such as density of the follicles, the thickness of the hair shafts, porousness of the hair, or oiliness/dryness of the scalp. Hair often changes in thickness, curl, or color throughout our lives. Overall, our hair type is decided by genes we get from our biological mother/father, therefore, it can be temporarily altered by styling but not permanently changed.
Preteens and teens often like to experiment with self-expression by changing their hairstyles and color. As you get older, you may become increasingly interested in trying a variety of products that may lighten or dye your hair. You also may experiment with changing your hair type by perming, straightening, or curling your hair using hot irons. Keep in mind that these alterations to your hair color and type can cause damage and unhealthy lasting effects on your hair and scalp and also pose potential health risks.
Simple Tips for Cleaning Hair!
Use hair and scalp health enhancing products that are free from harsh chemicals. Visit our Healthy Body products section in the BLOOM store to see our selection of top rated healthy hair products.
- Step 1: Wet hair and scalp using warm water
- Step 2: Squeeze out a quarter-size amount (depending on your hair type) of shampoo into your palm and apply it to the scalp, rubbing in gently to cover the entire scalp area
- Step 3: Rinse well until water runs clear of suds
- Step 4: Use a conditioner on the ends of the hair, especially if the hair is dry, curly, or kinky
- Step 5: Pat with a towel and lightly comb through
Healthy Hair Habits
Understanding our own hair type can help us to take great care of it. Various hair types respond to hair care in different ways and hair hygiene recommendations are not “one-size-fits-all.” Maintaining healthy hair is not the same standard set of rules for all people, and the best hair products, washing frequency, and styling choices vary depending on the hair type.
However, there are certain hair habits that work for all people. When we wash our hair, we need to make sure that all areas of the hair from roots to ends are wet and we need to massage the shampoo into the scalp.The scalp is the place where oils are produced so that’s where the shampoo can have the most benefit. Do not spend time working the shampoo into the ends of the hair as this can dry the hair out. Make sure to be thorough in rinsing the shampoo out and watch out for using water that is too hot — water at high temps can dry out your hair and your skin. If you use conditioner, smooth the product into the hair shafts themselves and avoid the scalp/roots (so the opposite of your shampoo technique!). You want to work the conditioner into the middle to end of the hair to maximize shine but avoid adding excess oil to the hair roots. For curly, kinky, or dry hair types, conditioner is applied to the scalp/root area, and oil/moisturizer/leave-in conditioner is applied after washing. Towel dry your hair gently and air dry when possible to avoid excessive heat styling damage. When the hair is still damp you can work in any products that you choose to use for styling and comb it out with a wide-tooth comb or WET detangling brush.
If you have straight hair or slightly wavy hair, your hair likely becomes oily after a few days. For those of you with this type of hair, washing your hair everyday or every other day will be ideal for the health of your scalp and the appearance of your hair. On the other spectrum, if your hair is very curly/kinky, then washing it frequently would be incredibly drying. If you have this type of hair, washing it once a week (or sometimes even less) is best for the appearance of your hair.
Hair grows from the root, in the scalp, and once it exits the scalp it is already dead. It is normal to lose about 50 to 100 hairs per day! No hair treatments then truly affect the “health” of the hair shaft but things like conditioners can make the hair look better. The following 12 tips and considerations below can help keep your hair looking healthy:
1. Some individuals should avoid washing their hair daily as it can dry out their hair and scalp. If this is something that you experience, you can try to wash it every other day or every 2-3 days if preferred, unless your hair becomes oily and unmanageable.
2. Use a conditioner or detangler on the ends of the hair (especially if your hair is dry or curly) to avoid pulling at the hair when combing. For curly, kinky, or dry hair types, conditioner can be applied to the scalp/root area, and oil/ moisturizer/leave-in conditioner can be applied after washing.
3. Gentle styling of the hair can help prevent split ends or breakage. You can smooth the appearance of split ends but you can not actually mend them with any product, no matter what the Tik Tok video or Insta ad may say! Using a wide tooth comb can be a way to prevent breakage while styling.
4. Keep heat styling with blow dryers, flat irons, or curling irons to a minimum frequency and the lowest level of heat when possible to reduce dryness and breakage.
5. Make sure to wash your hair after swimming in chlorinated water (like a pool) or wear a swim cap because the chemicals in the water are damaging to the hair.
6. Chemical processes such as perms, relaxers, and dyes are some of the most damaging things for the hair. You should avoid doing most of these things on your own at home and instead utilize professional salon services when possible. Whether at home or in the salon, be aware that all of these chemical processes will damage your hair and cause a certain amount of breakage. Definitely avoid using these techniques more frequently than recommended by the instructions of the product or guidance of a salon professional.
7. Hair extensions are also notorious for causing breakage, even those that tell you they will not damage your hair! If you choose to use hair extensions you should give yourself breaks at regular intervals and begin their use knowing that you may need to cut your hair shorter or otherwise go through a regrowth period after you discontinue use.
8. Ultra-tight hairstyles such as braids can cause hair breakage as well as a type of hair loss called traction alopecia, that occurs at the root level.
9. Repeated use of the same type of hairstyle (like a ponytail) can cause breakage of the hairs under high tension, such as those framing the face. Using softer, loser ponytails and updos can help alleviate this problem.
10. Silk pillowcases can also help keep your hair and skin looking their best.
11. Protect your hair from harmful UV rays, just like you do with the rest of your skin, by wearing a hat in the sun.
12. Cutting the hair regularly, at least four times per year, can help keep the appearance of split ends minimized and the hair looking its best.
Top Hair Concerns & Solutions
If you have ever noticed white flakes in your hair or dry patches on your scalp, you are probably experiencing dandruff. Those flakes may even fall onto your clothes or cause a terrible itch on your scalp. While they can definitely be annoying and sometimes embarrassing, they are extremely common. The medical name for dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis and when it occurs in a more severe form, with thicker plaques on the scalp, it can be called sebopsoriasis. When hormones start ramping up during puberty, oil production increases on the skin, including the scalp, and this increased oil production, as well as overgrowth of a certain form of yeast called malassezia, can lead to dandruff. Stress, dry/cold weather, and infrequent hair washing can make the problem worse. Remember, dandruff is not contagious and affects almost everyone at some point.
If you are experiencing dandruff, don’t worry! There are several things you can do at home to control dandruff and get rid of the flakes.
- First, increase the frequency that you wash your hair. If you have straight hair, start washing every day, and if you have very curly hair consider increasing your wash to twice per week.
- You can use over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos as an initial step. Best results may occur if you alternate with two different types of anti-dandruff shampoos. The main “active ingredients” you will find in these medicated shampoos include selenium sulfide 1%, zinc pyrithione, tar, salicylic acid, or ketoconazole. It can work really well to pick out two different shampoos with different active ingredients and alternate them. Other EWG verified shampoo products that can also help with itchy and dry scalps include those from Acure and Ethique.
- Apply the dandruff shampoo and work it into the scalp only. As you rinse your hair, gravity will clean the rest of your hair.
- Rinse with lukewarm water that is not too hot.
- Towel dry or blow-dry your hair on the cool setting using a light, gentle touch.
Once your dandruff resolves you can stop using the anti-dandruff shampoo or just use it intermittently to keep the flakes at bay. If your dandruff does not improve after a couple of weeks, you may need to see a dermatologist for prescription-strength solutions. Sometimes similar flakes can occur in the eyebrows, beard area, behind the ears, or around the nose — this is also called seborrheic dermatitis. If this occurs you can first try to use your anti-dandruff shampoo as a wash on the affected areas of skin.
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss, and although you may think of hair loss as only affecting older people, there are some types of hair loss that can occur in your adolescent years or even younger.
In this type of hair loss, inflammation in the skin of the scalp surrounding the hair follicles causes patches of complete hair loss. These are often small circular areas but can become larger or even affect the entire scalp. When alopecia areata occurs, a visit to the dermatologist will be necessary to obtain prescription medication or possibly have injections of steroids into the scalp. Fortunately, this type of alopecia usually resolves with treatment and without leaving a scar.
Repetitive use of certain types of tight hairstyles, such as braids and ponytails can cause hair loss in the areas in which the scalp is pulled the tightest. The same type of hair loss can happen in areas of pressure due to certain types of hats or helmets. It is really important to relieve the traction on these areas if you notice this occurring because this type of hair loss can actually scar the scalp. This can be a common condition in Black girls and women due to high heat, chemicals, and tight hairstyles that pull at the hair root (i.e., weaves, braids, dreadlocks, and hair extensions).
This is a widespread thinning of the hair that does not leave discrete patches of hair loss. It commonly occurs about three months after a major stressor, like a medical illness or stressful life event. Some people have experienced telogen effluvium after an infection with coronavirus and this problem has become more common overall with the stress of the current pandemic. Luckily, this type of hair loss resolves on its own after several months. If you do notice excessive thinning of the hair, you may want to see your doctor to rule out any concerning problems like nutritional deficiency, anemia, or thyroid imbalance. Assuming you are healthy and eating a well-balanced diet, the best thing you can do is take good care of your hair, avoid damaging styling methods, and focus on overall wellness. Some people find topical minoxidil helpful in encouraging hair to reenter the growth phase but keep in mind that its use is not FDA approved for those under the age of 18. Consult a doctor prior to use.
Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis)
A fungal infection can occur on the scalp which can lead to a ring-shaped area of redness, flaking, and inflammation with hair loss. You will want to see a doctor if this is occurring as you will likely need a prescription to get rid of the fungus.
People with trichotillomania have an uncontrollable urge to pull out hairs from their scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes. If you are affected by this condition, therapy and behavioral modification techniques can help you overcome it.
Sometimes a large “bump” can occur on the scalp, and as it grows larger, some hair loss can occur over the top of it. These large bumps are called pilar cysts and some people may be more likely to get them because of genes they inherited from their biological parents. These are not dangerous but you may need to see a dermatologist for removal if they grow too large and become noticeable or affect your hair growth.
Sometimes, due to sweat or bacteria overgrowth, pus-filled bumps can occur on the scalp or other areas of your body with hair. If you notice acne-like bumps on your scalp, you may want to make sure to rinse your hair out after getting sweaty from sports or exercise and also use shampoo with salicylic acid in it.
Hair color is interesting because there is such a large amount of color variation and also because of the way it often changes over time. Overall, our hair color comes from something called melanin and increased amounts of melanin leads to darker hair colors. Our hair color may change due to hormonal fluctuations and often gets darker as we age. As we move into our more senior years our bodies make less melanin and our hair becomes gray.
Lots of people like to modify the color of their hair to reflect their personal style. It’s important to remember that any chemical modifications to the hair can lead to increased dryness and breakage. Certain hair color processes, like bleaching, are especially damaging to the hair.
In general, we recommend sticking to professional salon services for bleaching or highlighting the hair or there could be disastrous results! If you do want to experiment with hair color at home, it is best to stick to colors a few shades away from your natural color, or you can try a gloss, which won’t change your hair color much but can provide enhanced shine.
- Make sure to protect the skin near the hairline with petroleum jelly like Vaseline when dyeing hair at home, and if you are just touching up the roots don’t pull color all the way to the ends.
- Super colorful, bright hues like pink or blue can be fun to try but keep in mind you will usually need to bleach the hair first in order to get those colors to shine, so you may want to get a professional on board to help you.
- It can be tempting to try to lighten the hair naturally, but keep in mind that most methods of lightening, even if “natural,” are drying to the hair. Spritzing on lemon juice is one of the most popular methods, but this is not a great idea. The lemon juice is acidic and can actually burn the hair, and even worse, the lemon juice that comes into contact with your skin can cause a serious rash when exposed to the sun. So, it’s probably best to save the lemon juice for your sparkling water and leave it off your hair.
- Apple cider vinegar can be used on the hair as a gentle and natural lightening solution but results will likely not be super noticeable.
- One more natural solution? You can spritz on a handmade concoction of water mixed with salt and crushed vitamin C. This can enhance the natural lightening that occurs when hair is exposed to the sun. But beware — any of these DIY techniques can lead to a brassy or orangey hue and can leave strands dehydrated.
BLOOM’s Top Hair Care Picks
Pick #1: Ethique
Cruelty-free products. Free from plastics, parabens, phthalates, preservatives, dyes, synthetic fragrances, waxes & silicones. Ethique’s full line of hair care, skin care, & self care products are made from fair-trade, ethically sourced cocoa butter & coconut oil. They carry products for oily, dry, curly, normal, and frizzy hair and a cool shower storage container to go with them! See EWG Score.
Pick #2: Many Ethnicities
Natural-ingredient brand designed for curls and multi-textured hair. Check out their options for Shampoo, Conditioner, Detangling spray, and Power curl gel. Find Many Ethnicities in BLOOM’s Healthy Body Box! See EWG Score.
Pick #3: ACURE
Accessible, eco-friendly skin wellness through clean, clinical ingredients in better-for-you bases. See EWG Score. To meet your individual needs we recommend:
Normal hair: shampoo // conditioner
Oily hair: shampoo // conditioner
Dry hair: shampoo // conditioner
Curly hair: shampoo // conditioner