Brushing, shampooing, conditioning, and drying. The outer layer of each hair shaft, called the cuticle, is composed of overlapping, scale like cells. If hair is treated gently and the proper balance of moisture and oils plus acidity is maintained, these cells lie flat, and the hair shaft is smooth and shiny. If the cuticle becomes dry, broken, or rubbed away, the hair is dull, lifeless, and unmanageable. The sun, hot appliances, teasing, coloring, straightening, or permanent waving-all tend to break down the hair’s cuticle. Correct care helps maintain healthy hair.
Brush your hair once or twice daily, especially before shampooing, to distribute scalp oils and to prevent tangling. The coarser and thicker your hair is, the stiffer the brush bristles should be. They can be nylon, plastic, or natural (boar bristle), but should have rounded tips and smooth shafts.
To brush correctly, bend at the waist and gently and slowly pull the brush through your hair from the nape of your neck forward. This protects the more fragile hair at the top of your head and around your face.
If you shampoo daily, lather hair only once (twice, if hair is very oily or scalp is sweaty) and condition it. With less frequent washing, the general rule is to lather twice. Shampoo cleans with a mixture of detergents and water; any extra ingredients-herbs, pro tein, beer, or oils-may impart a pleasant scent or feel, improve manageability, or add luster. Whether advertised so or not, most shampoos are pH balanced to protect the cuticle.
The best way to shampoo is in the shower with your back to the spray. Wet your hair thoroughly, lather the shampoo between your palms, and apply it to your hair and scalp. Don’t pile your hair on top of your head; instead, start with a scalp massage, using the balls of your fingers, not your nails, then work the shampoo down the hair strands. When soaping is finished, rinse your hair repeatedly until it feels free of shampoo, then rinse once more. Lift sections of long hair to be sure spray penetrates underneath.
Conditioners make hair more manageable by neutralizing the electrical charges caused by shampooing and combing; some also have oils, proteins, and silicone to add sheen. Read conditioner labels and experiment to determine which is right for your hair. Apply a conditioner after each shampoo, following the label directions. Rinse thoroughly. If your hair tends to be oily, condition only the ends. If your hair is fine and also oily, try conditioning before shampooing.
Dry your hair by blotting (not rubbing) with a towel. Detangle wet hair with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb; start with the ends and work back toward the scalp. Don’t brush fragile wet hair. Air-dry your hair as much as is convenient; use a blowdryer, rollers, or a curling wand only for finishing touches.