After the age of 20, most of us suffer from hair loss to some degree. What we don't realise, however, is that with proper care, precautions and a healthy diet, half of our hair problems would be over.
Read on to find out how.
Some dos & don'ts
~Identify your hair type
If your hair does not become greasy even after five days of your last shampoo, you have dry hair. Normal hair needs to be shampooed one or two times a week. More than a shampooings per week means you have oily hair.
~Use a shampoo that suits your hair type
Avoid excessively drying shampoos for oily hair, as it may stimulate the scalp on the rebound to produce more oil. Instead, use a shampoo meant for normal hair. You can use it more frequently, even daily if needed. Frequent washing does NOT lead to hair loss.
~Oil once a week
Olive oil or almond oil are your best options. Massage it in with your fingertips to boost scalp circulation. Don't leave in for more than one or two hours. Avoid hair oil if you have acne on your face and forehead.
Use conditioners as per hair type:
- Oily: a light or volumising conditioner.
- Dry: a smoothening one or almond oil-based conditioner.
- Rough: papaya or aloe vera conditioner.
- Dull: henna-based conditioner.
Don't apply conditioner to roots -- use only on the ends and the hair shaft to avoid loss of volume. Special intensive repair conditioners need to be left on for 20 to 30 minutes under a hot towel wrap. Use collagen based conditioners for excessively treated, permed or straightened hair and colour-protecting conditioners for tinted hair.
~Comb when dry
Wet hair is more prone to breakage due to rough handling than dry hair. So, after shampooing, don't rub vigorously with a towel -- simply pat dry or wrap the towel around your head and detangle gently, with fingers or a wide toothed comb. Brush and set only when dry.
~Brush upside down
Bend over from your waist, let your hair hang down and brush from root to tip -- this adds volume to your hair. For oily hair, avoid brushing and use a comb instead, as the bristles stimulate the scalp to produce more oil.
~Do not use a hair dryer regularly
Hair dryers tend to make hair brittle. In fact, 'hot comb alopecia' is a type of baldness caused due to overuse of hot rollers and blow dryers. If using one, attach a diffuser to your dryer and hold it at least 6 inches away from your hair. Stop when the hair is still slightly damp.
~Avoid using too many hair-styling products
Gels, waxes, sprays all add to the build-up of deposits on your scalp.
~Don't colour, perm or straighten your hair too frequently
Repeated exposure to chemicals while colouring, perming or straightening could lead to permanent damage and loss of hair. Colouring should be done by a professional and always insist on a pre-colouring hair protective conditioner before applying colour.
~Keep stress under control
Stress management -- whether its meditation, introspection, yoga or whatever you like -- is a must if you want to arrest hair fall.
~Use a hair pack once a week
Try this hair pack for glossy hair -- soak a handful of fenugreek (methi) seeds overnight and grind them. Mix with henna powder, honey and tea extract and apply for one to two hours on the hair before rinsing off.
For brittle hair, apply an egg white over your hair for 15 minutes and shampoo.
For dandruff, apply tea tree oil (available at shops selling essences and natural oils). Lemon juice or vinegar mixed with a spoon of olive oil can also be applied an hour before shampooing. Use 'Nizral' or 'Scalpe' shampoo once a fortnight or so.
~Feed your hair
A high protein diet rich in pulses, egg whites and soybean is a must for healthy hair. Anaemia is a major cause of hair loss. So, up your iron intake with foods like spinach, mustard greens, jaggery and dates. Biotin and zinc supplements can also help.
~Seek medical help
If you notice rapid hair loss of more than 50 to 60 hairs daily, consult a dermatologist immediately. Though 'familial baldness' can't be avoided, it can be slowed down and controlled if treated timely. Consult a doctor at the first sign of a receding hairline.
And, remember the eight-week rule: hair responds to any stimulus after eight weeks. So if you have suffered illness or stress two months back, the resulting hair fall would be manifesting now. Similarly, if you start treatment for hair loss today, it would take at least eight weeks for the results to show. So, be patient and persistent.
-- Dr Parul S Kolhe is an MBBS, DDV and DNB in dermatology.