3 April 2012

Hair Care

Hair care is an in general term for parts of hygiene and cosmetology concerning the hair on the human head. Hair care will differ according to our hair type and according to various processes that can be applied to our hair.

Concern for the hair and care of the scalp skin may appear separate, but are actually intertwined because hair grows from beneath the skin. The living parts of hair (hair follicle, hair root, root sheath, and sebaceous gland) are beneath the skin, while the actual hair shaft which comes out (the cuticle which covers the cortex and medulla) has just dead cells. Damage or changes made to the visible hair shaft cannot be repaired by a biological process, though much can be done to manage hair and ensure that the cuticle remains intact.

The sebaceous glands in human skin produce sebum, which is composed primarily of fatty acids. Sebum acts to guard hair and skin, and can inhibit the growth of microorganisms on the skin. This oily substance gives hair moisture and shine as it travels naturally down the hair shaft, and serves as a protective substance preventing the hair from drying out or absorbing excessive amounts of external substances. Sebum is also distributed down the hair shaft “mechanically” by brushing and combing. When sebum is present in excess, the roots of the hair can appear oily, greasy, and darker than normal, and the hair may stick together.

One way to distribute the hair's natural oils through the hair is by brushing with a natural bristle brush. The natural bristles effectively move the oil from the scalp through to the hair's mid-lengths and ends, nourishing these parts of the hair. Brushing the scalp also stimulates the sebaceous glands, which in turn produces more sebum. When sebum and sweat combine on the scalp surface, they help to create the acid mantle, which is the skin's own protective layer.

Scalp skin, just like any other skin on the body, must be kept healthy to ensure a healthy body and healthy hair production. If the scalp is not cleaned regularly, by the removal of dead skin cells, toxins released through the skin or external hazards (such as bacteria, viruses, and chemicals) may create a breeding ground for infection. However, not all scalp disorders are a result of bacterial infections. Some arise inexplicably, and often only the symptoms can be treated for management of the condition (example: dandruff). There are also bacteria that can affect the hair itself. Head lice are probably the most common hair and scalp ailment worldwide. Head lice can be removed with great attention to detail, and studies show it is not necessarily associated with poor hygiene. More recent studies reveal that head lice actually thrive in clean hair. In this way, hair washing as a term may be a bit misleading, as what is necessary in healthy hair production and maintenance is often simply cleaning the surface of the scalp skin, the way the skin all over the body requires cleaning for good hygiene.

Effect of Water we use :        

The minerals are found in groundwater usually extracted using a (tube) well. The level of calcium that is found naturally from the ground determines the hardness of water. While calcium is the element that determines hardness of water, there are many other elements in well water that affect hair, scalp and skin. Ground water or (tube) well water consists of various minerals and their role is described as under
·        Calcium causes hair to feel dry and lack shine and volume. It can prevent the proper processing of color, highlights, perms or relaxer/straighteners and can cause a perm to appear relaxed. Calcium builds up on the scalp causing flaking of the scalp, giving the appearance of dandruff. Calcium can choke the hair at the mouth of the follicle causing the hair to break off, and then coat the scalp, blocking further new hair growth.
·        Iron can cause water to have a red or rusty hue. Iron leaves hair feeling dry, brittle and weighted down. It causes lack of shine and can cause dark hair to tint darker and blonde hair to turn orange. Iron can inhibit the proper processing of perms, color, highlights, and relaxers/straighteners.
·        Copper discolors hair causing blonde hair to turn green and dark hair to tint darker. Copper can weigh hair down and cause dryness, and can inhibit the proper processing of perms, color, highlights, and relaxers/straighteners.
·        Magnesium causes hair to lack shine, feel dry, appear weighted down therefore lacking volume, and can inhibit the proper processing of perms, color, highlights, and relaxers/straighteners.
·        Silica causes many of the same effects on the hair as calcium. It causes hair to feel dry, lack volume, and can cause dandruff-like symptoms of flaking. Build-up of silica can choke the hair follicle causing hair to fall out.
·        Lead can cause the hair to feel dry. Lead can prevent the proper processing of perms, color, highlights, and relaxers/straighteners.
To improve the hair health and further prevent issues with dryness and buildup, people uses a shower head filter that will remove the minerals found in most city waters. However, hard water minerals and the sanitizing agents like Chlorine can also deposit in or on the hair, building up over time. The chemical and mineral content of water varies by geography.

Types of Hair Damage :

Split ends :

Split ends, known formally as trichoptilosis, happen when the protective cuticle has been stripped away from the ends of hair fibers.
This condition involves a longitudinal splitting of the hair fiber. Any chemical or physical upset, such as heat, that weathers the hair may eventually lead to split ends. Typically, the damaged hair fiber splits into two or three strands and the split may be two to three centimeters in length. Split ends are most often observed in long hair but also occur in short hair that is not in good condition.
As hair grows, the natural protective oils of the scalp can fail to reach the ends of the hair. The ends are considered old once they reach about 10 centimeters since they have had long exposure to the sun, gone through many shampoos and may have been overheated by hair dryers and hot irons. This all results in dry, brittle ends which are prone to splitting. Infrequent trims and lack of hydrating treatments can intensify this condition.

Breakage and other damage :

Hair can be damaged by chemical exposure, prolonged or repeated heat exposure (as through the use of heat styling tools), and at times by excessive perming and straightening.

Infections and skin disorders :

When hair behaves in an unusual way, or a scalp skin disorder arises, it is often required to visit not only a qualified physician, but sometimes a dermatologist, or a trichologist. Conditions that require this type of professional help include, but are not limited to, forms of alopecia (Baldness), hair pulling/picking, hair that sticks straight out, black dots on the hair, and rashes or burns resulting from chemicals we apply on our hair.
There are a number of disorders that are particular to the scalp. Symptoms may include:
  • Abnormal odor
  • Bleeding
  • Bumps
  • Caking skin buildup that appears white or another color than one's natural skin tone
  • Chafes
  • Clumps of hair falling out
  • Clumpy flakes that do not easily slough off the scalp skin
  • Dandruff
  • Excessive itchiness that doesn't go away with a few hair wash, redness of scalp skin
  • Patches of thinning
  • Pus-like drainage
  • Shedding
Any of these symptoms may indicate a need for professional assistance from a dermatologist or trichologist for diagnosis.
Scalp skin can suffer from infestations of mites, lice, infections of the follicles or fungus. There could be allergic reactions to ingredients in chemical preparations applied to the hair, even ingredients from shampoo or conditioners. Common concerns surrounding dandruff (often associated with excessive sebum); psoriasis, eczema, or seborrheic dermatitis.
An odor that persists for a few weeks despite regular hair washing may be an indication of a health problem on the scalp skin.

Not all flakes are dandruff. For example, some can merely be product buildup on the scalp skin. This could result from the common practice of applying conditioner to scalp skin without washing. This would dry upon the scalp skin and flake off, appearing like dandruff and even causing itchiness, but have no health effects whatsoever.

Hormone changes and imbalances :

There are various reasons for hair loss, most commonly hormonal issues. Fluctuations in hormones will often show in the hair. Not all hair loss is related to what is known as male pattern baldness, women can suffer from baldness just as men do. Formulas for addressing this specific cause of lack of hair growth yet typically they require around three months of consistent use for results to begin to appear. Cessation may also mean that gained growth may dissipate.

Particularly among women, thyroid disease is one of the more under-diagnosed health concerns. Hair falling out in clumps is one symptom of a set of symptoms that may indicate a thyroid concern. In many gynecological exams a blood screen for thyroid is now a common protocol. Thyroid often shows up first in the behavior of the hair.
During pregnancy and breast feeding, the normal and natural shedding process is typically suspended (starting around month three because it takes a while for the body to recognize and reset for the hormonal shifts the body goes through) for the period of gestation and extended longer if one breast feeds (this includes pumping for breast milk). Upon cessation of either of these, it typically takes around two months for the hormones to shift again to the normal hormonal settings, and hair shedding can increase exponentially, for approximately 3–6 months until hair returns to its normal volume. It is commonly noticed that hair seems thicker and shinier, even, during pregnancy and breast feeding in response to the influx of shifting hormones. It is not unusual also for hair color to change, or hair structure to change (e.g., straighter hair, curlier hair). These changes can occur more often than people may realize yet isn't often reported.

Hair care and nutrition :

Genetics and general health are factors in healthy hair. Proper nutrition is important for hair health. The living part of hair is under the scalp skin where the hair root is housed in the hair follicle. The entire follicle and root are fed by a vein, and blood carries nutrients to the follicle/root. Any time an individual has any kind of health concern from stress, trauma, medications of various sorts, chronic medical conditions or medical conditions that come and then wane, heavy metals in waters and food, smoking etc. these and more can affect the hair, its growth, and its appearance.

Generally, eating a full diet that contains protein, fruits, vegetables, fat, and carbohydrates is important (several vitamins and minerals require fat in order to be delivered or absorbed by the body). Any deficiency will typically show first in the hair. A mild case of anemia can cause shedding and hair loss. Among others, the B group of vitamins is the most important for healthy hair, especially biotin. B5 (pantothenic Acid) gives hair flexibility, strength and shine and helps prevent hair loss and graying. B6 helps prevent dandruff and can be found in cereals, egg yolk and liver. Vitamin B12 helps prevent the loss of hair and can be found in fish, eggs, chicken and milk.

When the body is under strain, it re prioritizes its processes. For example, the vital organs will be attended to first, meaning that healthy, oxygenated blood may not feed into the hair follicle, resulting in less healthy hair or a decline in growth rate. While not all hair growth issues stem from malnutrition, it is a valuable symptom in diagnosis.

Scalp hair grows, on average, at a rate of about half an inch per month, and shampoos or vitamins have not been shown to noticeably change this rate. Hair growth rate also depends upon what phase in the cycle of hair growth one is actually in; there are three phases. The speed of hair growth varies based upon genetics, gender, age, hormones, and may be reduced by nutrient deficiency (i.e., anorexia, anemia, zinc deficiency) and hormonal fluctuations (i.e., menopause, polycystic ovaries, thyroid disease).

The essential omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B12, and iron, found in fish sources, prevent a dry scalp and dull hair color. Dark green vegetables contain high amounts of vitamins A and C, which help with production of sebum and provide a natural hair conditioner. Legumes provide protein to promote hair growth and also contain iron, zinc, and biotin. Biotin functions to activate certain enzymes that aid in metabolism of carbon dioxide as well as protein, fats, and carbohydrates. A deficiency in biotin intake can cause brittle hair and can lead to hair loss. In order to avoid a deficiency, individuals can find sources of biotin in cereal-grain products, liver, egg yolk, soy flour, and yeast. Nuts contain high sources of selenium and therefore are important for a healthy scalp. Alpha-linoleic acid and zinc are also found in some nuts and help condition the hair and prevent hair shedding that can be caused by a lack of zinc. Protein deficiencies or low-quality protein can produce weak and brittle hair, and can eventually result in loss of hair color. Low-fat dairy products are good sources of calcium, a key component for hair growth. A balanced diet is extremely necessary for a healthy scalp and furthermore healthy hair.

So focus on your diet and lifestyle instead of searching for miracle medicines. Results are slow but sure.

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