How to Care for Hair + Scalp – Our Tips

So we’re often asked for useful tips and advice (methods, treatments, products) on all sorts of hair and skin topics. Wait no longer. . . our best advice is compiled here and will be updated often.

Disclaimer: This is a compilation of advice from our own experiences, the experiences of our customers, and consultations with specialists (dermatologists, hair care professionals, cosmetic product information). 

Reality

bad hair day movie
“Bad Hair Day,” a Disney film. All rights reserved.

It’s very upsetting when your hair won’t do what you’d like it to. Please realise that there’s a whole industry related to addressing the concerns of the universally dreaded “bad hair day,” waiting to take your money and occupy space in your bathroom cupboard by providing quick and easy fixes that never seem to come to fruition.

“Bad Hair Day” is a Disney film. A Disney film. So it’s officially a thing.

Fear not, we’ve been there. While we’re not promising miracles, we are happy to give solid, tested advice.

First, understand the reality of your hair and what’s possible. I’ve wanted corkscrew curls all my life, but I’ll never ever have them.

Know that the health of your hair and scalp depends on a multiplicity of factors, including genes, diet, lifestyle, environmental conditions, water quality, wearing hats too often, the products you use, and your styling regime, to name a few. You can’t undo all of this by using one miracle product. 

yoga-1284657_1920Try treating your hair better. Unlike your skin, there’s no pain indicator to tell you that what you’re doing is hurting your hair, so be thoughtful about the paces you put your hair and scalp through.

Seek solutions that are going to contribute to the long-term health of your hair and scalp. It’s no different from physical or dental health, really. Hair care products and hair styling products are two different things. Much of what we use or apply (dryers, serums, even some brushes) to style hair does not promote hair or scalp health.

All You Need is Oil

The role of oil in hair is deeply misunderstood. No one wants oily or greasy hair, but everyone needs to have the proper balance of oil, or sebum, for a healthy scalp and hair. Oil actually cleans hair and scalp. Shine, lustre, volume, softness, and a moisturised scalp are a few of the benefits of an oil-balanced head of hair.

How much oil you need depends on your skin and hair type. Always start with a small amount and use it when you can leave it in for at least few hours. Do this once or twice a week and you will start to see the positive results in a months’ time. 

Equipment

hairdryer-163576_1280Here’s what we recommend. I’ve not been paid to trial or endorse any product, so will stay neutral on brands.

Brushes and Combs

  • Choose natural or silicone (rubber) bristled brushes. Plastic or metal teeth in combs and brushes tend to splinter and can damage hair.
  • For detangling, choose a wide paddle silicone brush–we find that the type with the varied length of teeth work particularly well.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable–a palm-held brush works well for us, but you may prefer a brush with a handle. When you’re using oils, these do get slippery.

Electrics

OK, so air-drying your hair isn’t always practical. It’s the best thing to do though for healthy hair.

If you do use a hair dryer, look for one with low heat settings. The ceramic or infrared ones are popular. If you’re a curly, definitely use a diffuser.

Straightening with an iron is just as damaging as it sounds. Ouch. You can apply as much protectant as you like, but you are still scalding your strands over the chemical protection. Think about it. Try applying gentle heat with a straightener that doesn’t press your hair, but glides along it. These brush-head type of straightening devices may have a little more mercy on your hair than the irons. If using an iron (I did, for years), do try and get the ceramic or ionic kind. They are dear, but if it’s something you use often, it’s worth spending the extra cash.

Towel

Hair-Plopping_birchbox
Image via Birchbox

Swap your bath towel for a microfibre one. . . or a clean t-shirt. Seriously. The secret is keeping the lint and fibres out of your hair and keeping friction away from your hair care routine. Gently wrap your hair in the lint-free cloth and squeeze out the moisture. So yes, we are saying gently towel-dry your hair with a lint-free cloth. Hey, it sounds better than “hair plopping,” which is what the beauty bloggers are calling it. Really, beauty bloggers? Have we exhausted the Thesaurus and are only left with ‘plopping’? Think about connotation.

Detangling Kit: Clips, Water + A Spray Bottle

duck bill clipsHave clips that can help you section hair. We find that the duck-bill shaped ones work well since they are easy to clip in and take out. Don’t use any type of clip with a spring mechanism inside. Trust me, please. You don’t want to get that stuck in hair.

Get a good quality trigger spray bottle. It’s best to style your hair while it’s wet and not dry. It’s best to style hair, especially curls, while it’s wet and not dry.

kim basinger
The ’80s, the ‘great’ hair decade

But don’t put tap water in your spray bottle. Use mineral water, or better yet, aloe vera lily water, which will make it nice and soft. Anyone who grew up in the 80s and was addicted to pop magazines would have read about Kim Basinger washing her hair with Evian. Who knows if it’s true, but the gist of it IS. Tap water in most of our houses is hard and calcium rich, two things that aren’t great for hair or skin. No one’s saying rush out and buy Evian, but do realise that your water is a factor.

Your Routine

It’s important to have one. Here’s an example of one, which can be adapted according to the type of hair you have and the presence of other factors in your life. It’s trial and error from here. Your hair needs will change with major life events like stress, pregnancy, menopause, and so on. Be patient with yourself.

Hair Cuts

A good haircut does wonders for your the health of your hair. Get dead ends trimmed regularly and ask your hair stylist to assess the health of your scalp. 

Shampoo

<img class=" size-medium wp-image-823 alignleft" src="https://sargassotradingcompany.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/fineas-anton-105649.jpg?w=600&quot; alt="fineas-anton-105649" width="300" height="200" Fineas Anton/>Yes to shampoo, if you have normal or oily hair and scalp. If you can, choose a SLS-free shampoo. Look at the ingredients on the label. Avoid any product with a laurel sulphate or lauryl sulphate. Shampoo only when your hair is dirty. And do try rinsing only with conditioner on alternate hair washing days.

Not really to shampoo if you have normal, wavy, curly, or dry hair. What does this mean? You could follow the “no poo” camp (there it is again, this connotation business, eh?) religiously. At home, we shampoo with a gentle shampoo. I use our KokoVera shampoo + body wash, as you would expect. But we use other shampoos too, mostly because we like  different smells. Also, this business of products only working for a while We’ve got Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil shampoo and Original Sprout’s Island Bliss Tahitian shampoo open right now. Both are SLS-free and smell delish.

Conditioner

Everyone needs conditioner. I don’t care what type of hair you have. You have shampooed or rinsed your hair, stripping it of its natural oils. If you then go straight to towel, you are drying it further. Think ashy, flaky skin after a shower before you use lotion (of course you do!). That’s what your scalp is like after a shampoo if you don’t use conditioner.

  • Normal to oily – leave on for a minute and rinse with cool water.
  • Dry or curly – leave on for a few minutes and ever-so-quickly rinse with cool water (leaving some in).

Scalp Oil Treatment

  • Normal to oily – once each week, put a little bit of an oil product (muru muru smoothie or hair + scalp oil) directly on your scalp and massage it in with your fingers. Hair can be dry or damp, but not wet. Leave it on for a few hours (overnight or it’s the perfect opportunity for an undo) and then shampoo and condition as normal. Even better, try a warm oil treatment once in a while. After massaging the oil, wrap your hair in a warm cloth (wet it and put it in the microwave for a few seconds, being careful of the steam produced).
  • Dry or curly
    • Same as above, adding oil on hair as well. Try this twice a week until you feel the difference in your hair. You’ll need to experiment with how much oil to  use and which works best for you.
    • Daily, apply a few drops of oil to your scalp and hair. Curly hair drinks moisture, so you need to provide!

Detangling

ralph-evans-291848
Photo Credit – Ralph Evans

If you’re a curly, detangling is part of your routine. . .  Here at Casa of the plentiful hair (everyone except me, that is), we detangle damp or wet hair gently by first placing it into sections (use those clips). Easy does it, one section at a time, holding hair firmly with one hand to avoid the stress of pulling on the scalp. Start from the ends of the hair, working your way towards the scalp.

We use a soft silicone brush with tips of varied lengths to run through the length of the hair and a wide-toothed comb to neaten parts. Use some natural product (aloe hair + skin tonic, a little oil or smoothie) to get those oils into your hair.

mermaid
I’ve actually been told that I should detangle hair under running water. Don’t do that. It’s not nice to waste water, and we are not mermaids. Just follow these guidelines and you will be tangle-free in no time. Image by ArtbyAfox. She sells her beautiful mermaid drawings on Etsy.

Though I would never attempt detangling either of my girls’ hair dry (they are young and don’t sit still, so wet = quicker, easier, less of a struggle), there’s a school of thought that says dry detangling is actually best for curly hair because this is when hair is strongest.

In general, though, we don’t brush or comb curls when dry. They won’t reform without moisture and you will end up in frizzball land.

 

We detangle after every shampoo/conditioning, but it’s often necessary in the mornings. Aloe vera lily water and aloe hair + skin tonic are fantastic for dampening hair for a quick detangle. Just remember to section the hair first!

Dandruff and Dry Scalp Conditions

dandruff Please read the Scalp Health blog post.

Hair Thinning and Loss – wrote

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