Hair Care

By Rebecca Goldberg

Any woman who has ever suspected that her hair was damaged has had a mind filled with racing questions.

It starts out slow. Didn’t I used to have more hair in this ponytail? And builds. I think I can see straight through to my scalp.

As stress can heighten both hair loss and hair breakage, it is easy to be confused and feel helpless. The difference is essentially that hair breakage can be seen externally – strands with short, damaged ends – and hair loss is noticeable when hair is thin and falls out easily. While there is more information available for hair loss, BN decided to take a deeper look at the science behind hair breakage in the hopes of finding methods to cope.

According to Kattia Solano, owner of Butterfly Studio Salon, breaking hair happens at the root or weaker areas of the hair, like the hairline. It is usually caused by chemical processing or overuse of hot tools. Breakage is a problem that needs to be attacked on two fronts – internally and externally.

“Stay healthy, try to diminish stress, and try to have a good understanding of your hair strength,” said Solano. “Know your hair’s limitations, and avoid too much flat ironing or heat if the hair is weak.”

As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Solano believes that diet plays a major role in the look and feel of hair.

“Make sure you have vitamin B, flax seed oil, salmon and lots of vegetables,” she said. “I highly recommend hair vitamins like Densitive by Kerastase. It contains zinc, green tea, grape seed extract and calcium. Our clients swear by it; you must be consistent though to see results. Breakage takes a while to repair. I suggest in-salon treatments and haircuts to strengthen the hair shaft ”

We tested external treatments like hair masques and conditioners. While it may take months to see results, the softness and strength of hair post-wash and condition says a lot about the level of moisture in each strand. When hair is wet, it is porous and retains moisture. Cleansing and conditioning treatments also target the scalp, thus affecting the hair at the root – where the problem is. The process can start in the shower, even before washing.

One to try is Phyto’s Phytonectar Pre-Shampoo, Ultra Nourishing Oil Treatment. This product is made to restore lipid and protein deficiencies from the outside in. Layer on a liberal amount on the scalp and let it sit for 15 minutes. The product will drip, so you might feel the need to re-apply after a few minutes. Phyto has one of the most extensive hair care collections available. Phytonectar and other products can be found at Sephora.

If you prefer to use a thicker, cream-like product, try Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer Extreme. It feels more like a deep conditioner and is easy to apply and maintain on the hair, as it comes with a shower cap. Wash off after 15 minutes, then shampoo.

Available online at http://www.philipkingsley.com.

If you are concerned about your strands, be selective when you’re on the hunt for a shampoo as the act of shampooing can be harsh. Nexxus recently launched a shampoo and conditioner duo that is meant to treat the specific needs of breakage. Nexxus Dualiste Color Protection + Anti-Breakage Shampoo has a dual action pump. One side is filled with shampoo that treats breakage – the other, color-treated hair. The shampoo is protein heavy and works to restore your hair, leaving it smoother. Luckily, Nexxus is available at your corner drugstore.

Finding a great conditioner could be your simplest short term solution. Ted Gibson Daily Nourish Conditioner targets the cortex of the hair, strengthening it from its inner layer. It leaves hair smooth and manageable. We hope this means that you’re less likely to force it in the confines of a tight ponytail or clips which can exacerbate hair problems. Ted Gibson products can be found on http://www.tedgibsonbeauty.com.

As Solano stated, consistency is key. Once you find a routine that you feel confident about, it is important to keep it up for long-term results. And as an extra perk, the long baths or showers needed to apply these products may even reduce your stress level.

Originally published May 2009
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