Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hair Damage Help

Every woman wishes she had different hair. While millions of women dye their hair blonde, straighten it daily and get it cut so it doesn't look so thick, I've spent my life doing the opposite: I dyed it brown and red for a few years and permed it until it got fried and literally started falling out (luckily I grew out of this phase by the time I turned 17). Sick of the upkeep and the damage, I no longer process my hair, but I do spend time curling it before I go out, and I've spent what must be thousands of dollars on thickening and volumizing products that promise to give my hair tons of body (but never really do). I've thrown in the towel- my hair will never look like Catherine Zeta Jones's.

Oddly enough, my sister's hair actually looks a lot like Catherine's (she got Dad's genes, I got Mom's). She has dark, wavy, super thick hair. But she's also really damaged her hair from straightening it every day (as many of my friends also have). It's well known that heat styling can fry your hair, and hairstylists recommend that you don't use heat on it every day (hair dryers, curling irons and straightening irons all count), but on any day that you're not bumming around the house, who has the time to let their hair dry naturally before going off to class or work?

As a result, many companies are now producing hair styling tools that not only promise not to damage your hair, but to actually strengthen it. Sephora offers eight different products that feature fancy materials like Tourmaline and offer "ionic and infrared benefits" (whatever those are). Despite the fact that these straighteners, curlers and dryers are all in the $100-$200 price range, women are lining up to buy them, perhaps out of guilt for all the self-inflicted damage they've done to their hair. I even shelled out $30 for a cheapo version of the ionic blow dryer (it had me at "silky smooth shine").

I've always wondered whether this stuff actually works, but a couple of days ago I found out for sure. My favorite blogging scientists, The Beauty Brains, had a post on the scientific validation of these products. Apparently, there is no scientific proof that the composition of the plate material has any effect on your hair, and promises of ionic conditioning are just a lot of marketing BS.

My condolences to those of you who shelled out $200 for the T3 Tourmaline Professional Ionic Wet or Dry Iron.

So what can you do about hair damage? Well, if you're going to use heat styling, you should put product into your hair first, to serve as a barrier between the heat and your hair. A serum like Terax's Life Drops or Oscar Blandi's Jasmine Oil Serum should make a difference. Don't forget to use conditioner every day, and a deep conditioning treatment once every week or two should keep your hair looking healthy. When my hair was at it's worst, I really liked Phyto's Ultra Nourishing Oil Treatment and I've heard great things about products by Carol's Daughter.

But while conditioning will certainly make your hair look and feel better and help prevent future damage, no product is capable of changing the molecular structure of the hair, and previous damage will still be there. The best thing you can do is get you hair trimmed every couple of months, even if you're growing it out. And if you're really ready to help your hair, you can stop dyeing, bleaching, perming and chemically straightening your hair. Though I know I'll never have the thick, dark, curly hair I desire, I've learned to embrace my hair's natural color and type, and it feels good knowing that it's far healthier than it's ever been.

Anyone have tips for keeping hair healthy, or HG hair products they'd like to share? I'm always on the lookout.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very much enjoy your writing; however, please stop using "it's" for other than a contraction (i.e., "it is" becomes "it's", as in, "It's a great day", but not, as used on this page: "...when my hair was at it's worst..."