The Cardinal Rule of Hair Care You Don’t Know About
When it comes to hair care and maintenance there are a few rules that are so basic and fundamental that even the layperson would agree should never be broken. But there is a rule that perhaps even the hair sophisticate is unaware of- until now.
Thou shalt not over process
A color from time to time is entirely allowed- even a good hit of peroxide- but a double dose of processing such as a color and a perm? No way Jose. As hair colour director at Toronto’s Civello Salon Vanessa Bianchi explains, “I will not perm anybody’s hair if it has been over-lightened or they’ve had a lot of chemical work done to the hair, because then you will have a lot of damage.” A no brainer.
Thou shalt not overuse heat tools
This rule seems obvious enough yet in this, the age of blow out bars and curling iron addiction, some of us learn only the hard way that the use of heat on the hair should not be overdone. Too frequent use of heat emitting devices such as blow dryers, flat irons or curling irons (ceramic or not) damages hair in a way that is cumulative and difficult to reverse. Keratin bonds become compromised and moisture is drawn out of the hair making strands dry, fragile and sometimes in need of a full hair intervention. Heed our warning: the hair can only take so much.
Thou shalt not overwash/underwash
This is a fairly recent commandment whose truth is increasingly recognized and uncontested. Whereas the conventional belief used to be that hair needed to be washed often and even daily in order to stay healthy, we now know that this not true. Conversely, we should not under wash the hair (once a month people you know who you are). Hair follicles naturally produce oils and too frequent washing with harsh detergent/sulfate shampoos strip away natural oils and everything else away, including your color treatment. The hair responds by ramping up oil production to compensate. Under washing is also problematic as hair follicles that are left with oil and product buildup can result in yeast overgrowth and a whole host of issues, including follicle plugging and eventual follicle death.
Which leads us to the cardinal rule of haircare you don’t know about…..
Thou shalt not apply any cream based product directly onto the scalp
“Whaaaat? I’ve been applying a cream conditioner on my scalp forever.” you say. Yes, yes, so have we. But it isn’t a great practice, especially for the follicle-y challenged or those otherwise trying to encourage more robust growth.
Why? Let us explain.
Hair grows out of follicles and when a follicle becomes plugged (as we mentioned) hair will never grow out of that individual follicle again. Buh-bye. Cream based shampoos and conditioners are a case in point. These ‘creams’ are more or less composed of 3 elements: water, oil and wax. As water and oil do not mix, they require an emulsifier, which is the function of the wax. Mix oil and water at a specific temperature and add wax and you get a ‘creamy’ mix of oil and water.
The issue is not that we apply these cream based products on our actual hair. This is not a problem. The issue is when a cream based product is applied directly to the scalp. In a warm/hot shower or bath environment, the cream melts slightly and becomes liquefied. Oil and water are always liquid (in their stable forms) but the wax element changes according to temperature. In a warm shower the wax in the hair product will melt. So when you leave the shower and things cool down, the wax residue that is still on your scalp and hair will harden and solidify. This is problem because as the wax solidifies on the scalp, the follicles effectively become blocked or ‘plugged’.
A plugged follicle (as in the case with under washing hair) is not a good situation to find yourself in. Unable to push out the sheath of hair out, the follicle basically ceases to work and eventually dies.
Follicle blockers are many and sundry, and include these creams as well as gels and even hairsprays.
The strategy? Keep your cream based conditioners and treatments (shampoos we aren’t so sure about as it’s hard to keep it off the scalp when massaging) but keep the product off your scalp. Use these exclusively on your hair ends and up to the top of your hair but not on the scalp. Heed our warning and stay safe lovelies.