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There are many hair styling products and practices that can damage your hair if you are not careful with their use. Brushing too vigorously, excessive styling and improper use of hair products can cause hair breakage as well as hair loss. While the hair has an acidic pH, many styling products such as shampoos, hair gel, and hair dyes tend to be more alkaline. An alkaline solution causes the cuticle scales of the hair shafts to swell and be lifted away from the hair cortex. This gives your hair a rough texture and dull appearance. While the cuticle protects the hair, lifting it away from the cortex makes it weak and vulnerable to the harmful effects of chemicals. Frequent use of hair styling products can therefore cause excessive damage to your hair cortex.

Hair gels, mousse, wax and sprays are often used to hold and stiffen hair to maintain style. These products may contain alcohol, polymers and other ingredients that can cause build up in the scalp. Sometimes this can lead to itching and dandruff.

Physical Stress

Hair damage may be caused by both physical and chemical stress. Physical stress that can cause hair damage includes excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, vigorous brushing and combing, braiding for long periods, and permanent waving of the hair. Frequent use of hot dryers, hair straighteners or curling irons can also damage the keratin proteins on the hair shafts and increase hair breakage and dryness.

Chemical Damage

Common causes of chemical damage include frequent hair dyeing, bleaching, straightening, waving, and curling. Chemicals used for hair styling can remove protective oils on the hair cuticle and cause loss of moisture from the hair and scalp. Some styling products tend to be left in the hair for long periods and can cause cumulative effects. Frequent exposure to salt water as well as chlorine from swimming pools can also damage hair. These hair care products and practices can leave hair dull, discolored, and hard to manage, sometimes even leading to hair loss or weak, broken hair shafts.

How to Take Care of Your Hair

Dermatologists and other hair care experts recommend the following tips to avoid hair damage:

  • Avoid shampooing your hair daily. If you must wash your hair frequently, use a gentle formula such as baby shampoo.
  • Use a conditioning shampoo or hair conditioner frequently to improve hair appearance and reduce frizziness.
  • Use a wide-toothed comb after air drying your hair following a shampoo. Avoid vigorously drying your hair with a towel or a hot hairdryer.
  • Choose hair care products that contain dimethicone. This emollient acts as a moisturizer that traps water and helps reduce static electricity, increase manageability and enhance hair shine.
  • To counteract the effects of alkaline solution in hair care products, rinse your hair with a weak acid solution such as vinegar (acetic acid) or lemon juice. This will heal the swollen hair cuticles and restore smooth hair texture.
  • Limit the use of hot curling irons, blow dryers, and straightening rods.
  • Use hair dyes, perms, and other harsh hair treatments less frequently.
  • To reduce hair build-up of hair styling products such as gels, sprays or mousse, use them sparingly.
  • Protect your hair from excessive sun exposure by wearing a hat or using an umbrella when going outdoors. You can also use hair products that contains sunscreen.
  • Protect your hair from salt water or chlorine when swimming by applying hair conditioner and wrapping hair tightly in a swimming cap.

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