A hair care routine that works for you can be difficult to find, especially with so much information online, tutorials, and new haircare products being launched on a daily basis. This is why we asked dermatologists to develop a comprehensive and scientific hair care guide.
However, hair care is more than just applying products and having shiny hair. To be able to choose products more effectively, you must first understand your own hair and scalp type. And that is exactly where we will begin!
What is hair?
Hair is an epidermal derivative that consists of two distinct parts:
- The follicle
- The hair shaft
The follicle is the basic building block for hair growth. The hair shaft is made up of cortex and cuticle cells, as well as a medulla in some cases.
Hair follicles go through a continuous growth and rest cycle known as the hair cycle. The duration of the growth and rest cycles is organized by many endocrine, vascular, and neural stimuli and is affected not only by hair localization but also by other factors such as age and nutritional habits.
Different hair and scalp types
We frequently tend to overlook the fact that the scalp is an extension of our skin, containing more sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and sweat glands. And, like the rest of your skin, the scalp has issues that can lead to a variety of hair problems.
However, not all scalps are the same, there are various types of the scalp, and each has its own set of issues. Because your skin and scalp are the same, you should treat your scalp with the same care that you give your face and the rest of your body.
To better understand scalp care and develop a routine to keep scalp conditions at bay, you must first determine your scalp type.
Similar to skin, scalp is also classified into different types:
The amount of sebum (natural oil) produced by the scalp determines a person’s hair type. Each of these hair types needs a unique care routine. An oily hair care routine or product cannot be used to care for dry hair and vice versa.
Oily scalp is very common in people who have oily skin. The visible surface of your skin and your scalp have the same skin type. Consequently, you have oily hair. Oily skin means an oily scalp, and if your scalp is oily, your hair will follow suit.
You have an oily scalp if your hair starts to clump together or feels extremely greasy throughout the day. This happens when your sebaceous glands overwork themselves and produce more sebum than usual. An oily scalp also brings on dandruff.
Malassezia globose, a microbe that resides on everyone’s scalp, responds to the extra sebum by producing more oleic acid. Your scalp becomes even more irritated as a result, turning flaky to try to get rid of the irritant and causing dandruff.
Oily Scalp care
|Shampoo||When washing your hair, choose cool or room temperature water. Hot water encourages the production of more oil.|
Wash and shampoo your hair regularly with a suitable product.
Shampoos that are hydrating, moisturizing, smoothing, or suitable for curly hair add too much moisture to your already oily scalp.
Look for terms such as “volumizing,” “strengthening,” or “balancing” on the label. These are non-moisturizing products that are more effective at removing excess oil.
|Conditioner||Use conditioner the correct way: As your sebum glands are located on your scalp, the top part of the hair that is closest to them is more hydrated. Therefore, you must avoid applying conditioner at the roots of your hair and just focus on hydrating the stems.|
Conditioners that are too thick or marketed as intensive should be avoided because they can cause a moisture imbalance and cause your hair to become greasier faster. A balancing, lightweight, natural conditioner is ideal. It is also recommended to avoid conditioners with thick oil as the main ingredient.
|After Bath||Greasy hair already benefits from too much of what hydrates and moisturizes hair; sebum. So it barely requires any after-bath hair care. Although it can be nice to use some dry oil products to hydrate the root of your hair.|
Regardless of your hair type, if you are styling them with heat, it is always recommended to use a heatproof product before styling to protect hair against excessive heat.
|At-home care||Avoid brushing or touching your hair too much. Doing so, you will easily transfer oils with the brush or your fingers to different parts of your hair.|
Dry Scalp is caused by a lower number of oil glands. It is more likely that you will have dry hair if you have dry skin. This is due to insufficient sebum production by the glands on your scalp.
If you frequently experience itchiness and notice powdery flakes falling off your scalp when you scratch it or give it a gentle shake, you have a dry scalp. When your pH levels are high, your scalp produces less sebum, resulting in this condition.
A less acidic scalp with less sebum cannot keep bacteria at bay, resulting in hair loss and other skin conditions. Furthermore, dry hair is prone to breakage because it can only stretch to 15% of its overall length before breaking.
Dry Scalp care
|Pre-Shampoo||Begin your dry hair care routine with a pre-shampoo treatment. It’s a small step that can make a big difference, especially if you have dry hair. It promotes a healthy scalp for more manageable, healthy-looking hair. You can use an array of natural oils for specific products available at drugstores.|
|Shampoo||Avoid shampoos that are volumizing, strengthening, or fortifying. These products may dehydrate your scalp, which is not recommended for dry hair.|
Look for shampoo labels that promote moisture, hydration, smoothing, or curls if your scalp is only slightly dry with little to no itching or flaking. These products promote moisture retention and can help with a dry scalp.
Sulfate-containing shampoos are extremely drying to the hair and scalp and should be avoided.
|Conditioner||Consider using a coconut oil treatment to repair severe damage.|
If your hair is especially dry, you might want to use a stronger conditioner. Look for labels that promote repair, reduce frizz, are suitable for highlighted hair, and offer heat damage protection.
Deep conditioners are a great investment for your dry hair care routine. Damage to your hair can be managed, and future damage can be avoided with an average use of 1-4 times per month.
Lean towards a volumizing conditioner if you have limp or fine hair.
|After Bath||After washing, use a leave-in conditioner as a base to protect your hair from environmental damage and heat styling.|
Applying a leave-in conditioner before doing anything to your hair makes it more pliable and allows for easier styling.
Hyaluronic acid nourishes the scalp, resulting in soft, flake-free roots and smooth, shiny strands.
Moringa oil stimulates keratin production, resulting in stronger, less-broken hair.
|At-home care||Certain vitamins have a direct impact on the health of your hair and nails. Vitamin A, vitamin C, and biotin (also known as vitamin H), and Increase your consumption of marine proteins. These are high in peptides and omega-3 fatty acids, which can make your hair shine better. Marine proteins prevent hair thinning and can make hair look shinier while also providing extra protein.|
It is also recommended to consider eating more antioxidants to combat oxidative stress, which causes hair to look older.
Mineral iron also helps to make hair look healthier.
This type is associated with proper pH balance, shiny, and healthy hair. However, we must point out that the name is a complete misnomer. This is the least common type of hair. Take the necessary precautions to clean, moisturize, and protect your hair from sun damage on a regular basis, and you will never have too many problems with this hair type.
|Shampoo||Any average nutrition-packed shampoo will do the trick.|
Use sulfate free gentle shampoos for minimal damage to your hair.
|Conditioner||If you prefer using a conditioner, depending on the climate you live in, choose between deep conditioners (for a dryer environment) and soft products (for a more humid environment).|
|After Bath||It is always recommended to use moisturizing products toward the tip of your hair strands. This will bring them the hydration they desperately need.|
|At-home care||Before heat styling your hair, always remember to apply a heat proofing product.|
Never style your dry hair, try to moisten it with a spray leave-in conditioner before applying any styling tools.
What is hair texture?
Your hair’s thickness is referred to as its texture. Fine, medium, and thick textures are the three different types:
- Fine hair is the most delicate hair texture. Each hair is thin and has only two layers: the cortex and cuticle. If you have this hair type, you may have difficulty keeping your hair in a style. Furthermore, as you are aware, too much product will weigh this hair down, causing it to break easily.
- Most people have medium hair, which is thicker than fine hair. Individual strands of hair have two layers, like fine hair, but they may also have a third, the medulla. Medium hair holds hairstyles better, appears thicker, and is less prone to breaking.
- If you have thick hair, it is more resistant to heat, styling products, hair dye, and breakage. However, this means that your hair will take longer to dry and may become frizzy in humid weather. Thick hair gives the appearance of having a fuller head of hair and can hold a hairstyle well.
Different Hair types
Depending on the shape of the hair—whether it is straight or curly—there are numerous different types of hair:
- Type 1 is commonly fine hair that is straight. Since there are no curls, the oil from the scalp travels down the hair shaft more quickly than it would in hair that has curls, making it easy to become shiny and oily. Asians tend to have the most type 1 hair. Although Type 1B hair is still very straight, it is thicker and has more volume because of its medium texture.
- Type 2 hair has natural waves, with more curl than some types but less than others. Wavy Type 2A hair can be slightly coarser or a little bit finer. It can get very frizzy and be difficult to style, but it typically has s-shaped waves and is easy to style.
- Type 3 hair is identifiably curly. When the hair is wet, these curls are straight, but as it dries, they return to being curly. Type 3B hair has a variety of textures and has tighter curls.
- Type 4 hair is extremely curly or kinky. It is frequently coarse, but it is also delicate and easily damaged. The curls on type 4A hair are tight and well-defined. Type 4B hair is soft and fragile, with very tight and less defined curls.
Signs of healthy hair
You probably have a good idea of what your hair and scalp type is by now. However, before starting a hair care routine, it is crucial to analyze your hair to see if it’s already healthy or not. Below are some telltale signs of healthy hair:
- Your hair feels and looks amazing with just a simple haircut.
- Low humidity or moisture will not frizz up your hair.
- After showering, combing, or brushing, healthy hair does not tangle.
- It is normal to shed an average of between 50 and 100 hair strands per day. You have healthy hair if you lose the same amount every time. However, falling more than the average amount may indicate hair loss.
- Shiny hair is the result of spreading the natural oil from your scalp throughout your hair. If your hair is shiny, it may indicate that the natural oils are being distributed evenly throughout your hair.
- If the ends of your hair do not appear to be split or damaged, your hair is probably in good condition.
- When your hair is unhealthy, it usually leads to scalp issues. Dandruff and itchy scalp are examples of these issues. These conditions are not usually associated with healthy hair.
- If your hair color has changed, it could be an indication that your hair is unhealthy. Damaged hair frequently loses its natural color, becoming lighter or darker than it was originally.
Hair Care Routine for all hair types
While every hair type is different, there are some general guidelines that will help you achieve the best results. You’ve probably heard the golden rule of skincare layering: lightest to heaviest. Dermatologists recommend the following guideline for hair care:
- Foundation (shampoo, conditioner, masks)
- Structure (nourishing leave-ins and protectants)
- and Finish (styling products and texture sprays)
We’ve compiled the best order for layering hair care products below. Keep in mind that this order begins with shampooing; if you have a dry scalp and prefer to begin with pre-shampooing, go ahead and do so.
- Shampoo and Conditioner
The right shampoo and conditioner can bring out your hair’s natural texture and give it the boost it needs to make styling easier. If you have dyed hair, choose something made for color-treated hair (read: no parabens and fewer surfactants) or hydrating. It is recommended that you use a clarifying shampoo at least once a week to break up styling residue that has accumulated on your scalp.
- Hair mask
Hair masks can be used instead of regular conditioner, and you can use double if your hair is particularly dry or damaged. But be careful not to overdo it, as too much application can weigh down your strands. It is best to run your fingers through your hair and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.
- Hair oils or leave-in conditioner
After you’ve ensured that your strands are washed and moisturized, continue with a hydrating leave-in conditioner. You should apply this while your hair is still damp—not only is your hair more receptive when damp (your cuticles are open), but it will also keep your strands from frizzing out as they dry.
Hair oils are a little trickier because they can be used on wet or dry hair. If you do not intend to use heat styling, now is the time to apply them because your hair will absorb the ingredients the best. However, if you intend to heat-style, stop. Applying it right now will effectively fry your strands, making them more vulnerable to damage.
- Volumizing mousse
Volume is the next stop, if you want it, of course. Apply a pump of volumizing mousse directly into your roots for the best results, scrunching as you go for more lift and body. Aim to keep the product on your hair’s mid lengths and roots while avoiding the ends.
- Heat protection
A heat protectant is required if you intend to use a blow-dryer, curling iron, or flat iron. Spray the product evenly throughout your hair, then brush it through with a fine-toothed comb to ensure even distribution. And after that, you can heat-style your hair as preferred.
Hair care: Final thoughts
Identifying your scalp and hair type is essential for maintaining healthy hair and scalp. Furthermore, you can easily keep serious scalp conditions at bay. Remember that while your hair may appear healthy, if you notice an itchy scalp, you should probably see a dermatologist.
Everyone’s hair care routine will be different, but we’ve listed a few key steps that will help your hair look and feel its best. If you would like specific advice or tips for your hair type, you can book an online appointment with a dermatologist to find out which products work best for your hair type.