Hair care is an overall term for hygiene and cosmetology involving hair.
Hair care is an overall term for hygiene and cosmetology involving the hair which grows from the human scalp, and to a lesser extent facial, pubic and other body hair.
Hair care routines differ according to an individual's preferences and the physical characteristics of one's hair. Hair may be colored, trimmed, shaved, plucked, or otherwise removed with treatments such as waxing, sugaring, and threading.
Hair care services are offered in salons, barbershops, and day spas, and products are available commercially for home use. Laser hair removal and electrolysis are also available, though these are provided (in the US) by licensed professionals in medical offices or specialty spas.
Shampooing and conditioning
Washing hair removes dirt, excess sweat and oil, as well as unwanted products from the hair and scalp. Often hair is washed as part of a shower or bathing with shampoo, a specialized surfactant.
Shampooing works by applying water and shampoo to the hair. The shampoo breaks the surface tension of the water, allowing the hair to become soaked. This is known as the wetting action.
The wetting action is caused by the head of the shampoo molecule attracting the water to the hair shaft. Conversely, the tail of the shampoo molecule is attracted to the grease, dirt and oil on the hair shaft.
The physical action of shampooing makes the grease and dirt become an emulsion that is then rinsed away with the water. This is known as the emulsifying action. Sulfate free shampoos are less harming on color treated hair than normal shampoos that contain sulfates. Sulfates strip away natural oils as well as hair dye. Sulfates are also responsible for the foaming effect of shampoos.
Shampoos have a pH of between 4 and 6. Acidic shampoos are the most common type used and maintain or improve the condition of the hair as they don't swell the hair-shaft and don't strip the natural oils.
Conditioners are often used after shampooing to smooth down the cuticle layer of the hair, which can become roughened during the physical process of shampooing. There are three main types of conditioners: anti-oxidant conditioners, which are mainly used in salons after chemical services and prevent creeping oxidation; internal conditioners, which enter into the cortex of the hair and help improve the hair's internal condition (also known as treatments); and external conditioners, or everyday conditioners, which smooth down the cuticle layer, making the hair shiny, combable and smooth. Conditioners can also provide a physical layer of protection for the hair against physical and environmental damage.
A hairstyle, hairdo, or haircut refers to the styling of hair, usually on the human scalp. Sometimes, this could also mean an editing of facial or body hair. The fashioning of hair can be considered an aspect of personal grooming, fashion, and cosmetics, although practical, cultural, and popular considerations also influence some hairstyles.
A hairstyle's aesthetic considerations may be determined by many factors, such as the subject's physical attributes and desired self-image or the stylist's artistic instincts. Physical factors include natural hair type and growth patterns, face and head shape from various angles, and overall body proportions; medical considerations may also apply.
A hairstyle is achieved by arranging hair in a certain way, occasionally using combs, a blow-dryer, gel, or other products. Hairstyling may also include adding accessories (such as headbands or barrettes) to the hair to hold it in place, enhance its ornamental appearance, or partially or fully conceal it with coverings such as a kippah, hijab, tam or turban.
Hair styling may include cuts, weaves, coloring, extensions, perms, permanent relaxers, curling, and any other form of styling or texturing.
Styling hair often involves washing hair first, so that the hair is cut while still slightly damp. Compared to dry hair, wet hair can be easier to manage in a cut/style situation because the added weight and surface tension of the water cause the strands to stretch downward and cling together along the hair's length, holding a line and making it easier for the stylist to create a form. It is important to note that this method of cutting hair while wet, may be most suitable (or common) for straight hair types. Curly, kinky and other types of hair textures with considerable volume may benefit from cutting while dry, as the hair is in a more natural state and the hair can be cut evenly.
Hair dryers speed the drying process of hair by blowing air, which is usually heated, over the wet hair shaft to accelerate the rate of water evaporation.
Excessive heat may increase the rate of shaft-splitting or other damage to the hair. Hair dryer diffusers can be used to widen the stream of air flow so it is weaker but covers a larger area of the hair.
Hair dryers can also be used as a tool to sculpt the hair to a very slight degree. Proper technique involves aiming the dryer such that the air does not blow onto the face or scalp, which can cause burns.
Hair cutting or hair trimming is intended to create or maintain a specific shape and form. There are ways to trim one's own hair but usually another person is enlisted to perform the process, as it is difficult to maintain symmetry while cutting hair at the back of one's head. Its extent may range from merely trimming the uneven ends of the hair to a uniform length to completely shaving the head.
When not completely shaved off, the overall shape of the hair is strongly influenced by the length of the hairs; shorter hairs naturally tend to stand up more whereas longer hairs lay down under gravity. Thus the overall shape and to a significant extent the texture of the hairstyle is usually controlled by trimming it to particular lengths.
Cutting hair is often done with hair clipper, scissors and razors. Combs and hair grips are often employed to isolate a section of hair which is then trimmed.
Although trimming enhances the hair's appearance by removing damaged or split ends, it does not promote faster growth or remove all damage along the length of the hair.
Brushing and combing:
Brushes and combs are used to organize and untangle the hair, encouraging all of the strands to lie in the same direction and removing debris such as lint, dandruff, or hairs that have already shed from their follicles but continue to cling to the other hairs.
There are all manner of detangling tools available in a wide variety of price ranges. Combs come in all shapes and sizes and all manner of materials including plastics, wood, and horn. Similarly, brushes also come in all sizes and shapes, including various paddle shapes. Most benefit from using some form of a wide tooth comb for detangling. Most physicians advise against sharing hair care instruments like combs and clips, to prevent spreading hair conditions like dandruff and head lice.
Weaving, extensions, and braiding:
Human or artificial hair utilized for the integration with one's natural hair can alter one's appearance for long or short periods of time by adding further hair to one's natural hair or by covering the natural hair all together with human or synthetic hairpieces. Weaving additional human or synthetic pieces can enhance one's hair by giving it volume, length and adding color without the damage of chemicals or adopting a different hair texture than that of their own.
However, hair loss can occur either along the front hairline or above the ears due to the wearing of specific hair styles for a prolonged period of time, such as weaves and tight or frequent braiding which may pull at the hair roots and cause traction alopecia. Rubber bands with metal clasps or tight clips, which bend the hair shaft at extreme angles, can have the same effect.
If hair is pinned too tightly, or the whole up-do slips causing pulling on the hair in the follicle at the hair root, it can cause aggravation to the hair follicle and result in headaches. Although some African-Americans may use braiding extensions (long term braiding hairstyle) as a form of convenience and/or as a reflection of personal style, it is important not to keep the braids up longer than needed to avoid hair breakage or hair loss. Proper braiding technique and maintenance can result in no hair damage even with repeated braid styles.
Curling and straightening:
Curling and straightening hair requires the stylist to use a curling rod or a flat iron to get a desired look. These irons use heat to manipulate the hair into a variety of waves, curls and reversing natural curls and temporarily straightening the hair. Straightening or even curling hair can damage it due to direct heat from the iron and applying chemicals afterwards to keep its shape. There are irons that have a function of straightening or curling hair even when it’s damp (from showering or wetting the hair), but this requires more heat than the average iron. Temperatures can range from 300–450 degrees). Heat protection sprays, and hair repairing shampoos and conditioners can protect the hair from damage caused by the direct heat from the irons.
Hair coloring is the process of adding pigment to or removing pigment from the hair shaft. Hair coloring processes may be referred to as coloring or bleaching, depending on whether you are adding or removing pigment.
Temporary hair tints simply coat the shaft with pigments which later wash off. Most permanent color changes require that the cuticle of the hair be opened so the color change can take place within the cuticle. This process, which uses chemicals to alter the structure of the hair, can damage the cuticle or internal structure of the hair, leaving it dry, weak, or prone to breakage. After the hair processing, the cuticle may not fully close, which results in coarse hair or an accelerated loss of pigment.
Generally, the lighter the chosen color from one's initial hair color, the more damaged it may be. Other options for applying color to hair besides chemical dyes include the use of such herbs as henna and indigo, or choosing ammonia-free solutions.
Care of human or other natural hair wigs is similar to care of a normal head of hair in that the wig can be brushed, styled, and kept clean using haircare products.
Synthetic wigs are usually made from a fine fiber that mimics human hair. This fiber can be made in almost any color and hairstyle, and is often glossier than human hair. However, this fiber is sensitive to heat and cannot be styled with flat irons or curling irons. There is a newer synthetic fiber that can take heat up to a certain temperature.
Human hair wigs can be styled with heat, and they must be brushed only when dry. Synthetic and human hair wigs should be brushed dry before shampooing to remove tangles. To clean the wig, the wig should be dipped into a container with water and mild shampoo, then dipped in clear water and moved up and down to remove excess water. The wig must then be air dried naturally into its own hairstyle. Proper maintenance can make a human hair wig last for many years.
Functional and decorative ornaments:
There are many options to embellish and arrange the hair. Hairpins, clasps, barrettes, headbands, ribbons, rubber bands, scrunchies (fabric elastic hair ties), and combs can be used to achieve a variety of styles. There are also many decorative ornaments that, while they may have clasps to affix them to the hair, are used solely for appearance and do not aid in keeping the hair in place.
Hair styling tools and productsTools:
Styling tools may include hair irons (including flat, curling, and crimping irons), hair dryers, and hair rollers. Hair dressing might also include the use of hair product to add texture, shine, curl, volume or hold to a particular style. Hairpins are also used when creating particular hairstyles. Their uses and designs vary over different cultural backgrounds.
Styling products aside from shampoo and conditioner are many and varied. Leave-in conditioner, conditioning treatments, mousse, gels, lotions, waxes, creams, clays, serums, oils, and sprays are used to change the texture or shape of the hair, or to hold it in place in a certain style. Applied properly, most styling products will not damage the hair apart from drying it out; most styling products contain alcohols, which can dissolve oils. Many hair products contain chemicals which can cause build-up, resulting in dull hair or a change in perceived texture.
Treatment of damageSplit 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 trauma, 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 by perming and straightening. Oil is harmful for rough hair and for dry scalp as it decreases nourishment for hair leading to split and hair fall. When hair behaves in an unusual way, or a scalp skin disorder arises, it is often necessary 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, hair pulling/picking, hair that sticks straight out, black dots on the hair, and rashes or burns resulting from chemical processes. Gel provides a shiny look but dries the hair and makes it rough.
There are a number of disorders that are particular to the scalp. Symptoms may include:
- Abnormal odor
- Caking skin buildup that appears white or another color than one's natural skin tone
- Clumps of hair falling out
- Clumpy flakes that do not easily slough off the scalp skin
- Dandruff and clumps
- Dry hair scalp
- Excessive itchiness that doesn't go away with a few hair wash, redness of scalp skin
- Patches of thinning
- Pus-like drainage
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.
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.
General hair loss:
Some choose to shave their hair off entirely, while others may have an illness (such as a form of cancer — note that not every form of cancer or cancer treatment necessarily means one will lose their hair) that caused hair loss or led to a decision to shave the head.
Hair care and nutrition:
Genetics and 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 supply of arteries, 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 are the most important for healthy hair, especially biotin. B5 (pantothenic acid) gives hair flexibility, strength and shine and helps prevent hair loss and greying. 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 reprioritizes 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 1.25 centimeters 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-linolenic 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. 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.
Hair removal practices
Depilation is the removal of hair from the surface of the skin. This can be achieved through methods such as shaving. Epilation is the removal of the entire hair strand, including the part of the hair that has not yet left the follicle. A popular way to epilate hair is through waxing.
Many razors have multiple blades purportedly to ensure a close shave. While shaving initially will leave skin feeling smooth and hair free, new hair growth can appear a few hours after hair removal.
Shaving is accomplished with bladed instruments, such as razors. The blade is brought close to the skin and stroked over the hair in the desired area to cut the terminal hairs and leave the skin feeling smooth. Depending upon the rate of growth, one can begin to feel the hair growing back within hours of shaving. This is especially evident in men who develop a five o'clock shadow after having shaved their faces. This new growth is called stubble. Stubble typically appears to grow back thicker because the shaved hairs are blunted instead of tapered off at the end, although the hair never actually grows back thicker.
Waxing involves using a sticky wax and strip of paper or cloth to pull hair from the root. Waxing is the ideal hair removal technique to keep an area hair-free for long periods of time. It can take three to six weeks for waxed hair to begin to resurface again. Hair in areas that have previously been waxed also is known to grow back finer and thinner, especially compared to hair that has been shaved with a razor.
Laser hair removal is a cosmetic method where a small laser beam pulses selective heat on dark target matter in the area that causes hair growth without harming the skin tissue. This process is repeated several times over the course of many months to a couple of years with hair re-growing less frequently until it finally stops; this is used as a more permanent solution to waxing or shaving. Laser removal is practiced in many clinics along with many at-home products.
Cutting and trimming:
Because the hair on the head is normally longer than other types of body hair, it is cut with scissors or clippers. People with longer hair will most often use scissors to cut their hair, whereas shorter hair is maintained using a trimmer. Depending on the desired length and overall health of the hair, periods without cutting or trimming the hair can vary.
Cut hair may be used in wigs. Global imports of hair in 2010 was worth $US 1.24 billion.