What do a lion, a Shetland pony and Fabio have in common? A gorgeous mane the ladies (of their respective species, at least) love.
All right, we can’t vouch for the romantic effect on big cats and small horses. It obviously works for Fabio. And there’s hope too for the average guy who doesn’t have a legion of “grooming professionals” armed with hair spray and feathering razors to ready him for his photo shoot. Head-turning hair is healthy hair — and for that, we can learn as much from the animal kingdom as from a supermodel.
Intrigued? Then read on. We’ll explore five ways to show your hair some love.
Treat Wet Hair with Special Care
Hair’s main component is a protein called keratin. Water stretches and weakens keratin molecules, so hair is more fragile when wet.
Unfortunately, this is just when hair gets its roughest treatment: washing, drying and the application of all kinds of “care” products.
To minimize damage, wash hair only as needed. If you have naturally oily hair, that may be daily, but most guys can go longer. Overwashing can actually dull hair by stripping away protective oils.
Make your routine as gentle as possible. Use warm water, not hot water. Massage the scalp rather than scrubbing, and blot hair dry with a towel instead of firing up the blow dryer. Ease out tangles with a wide-toothed comb.
Watch the Greasy Stuff
From slick to spiky, gels and other styling aids create looks that your hair left alone would never accomplish. Gels work their architectural feats using polymers — that is, plastic — dissolved in alcohol. Alcohol can weaken keratin and strip hair of moisture and oils. That damages keratin, leaving hair weak and brittle. Use gels sparingly, preferably those that are alcohol free.
Pomades and waxes, on the other hand, contain heavier ingredients like petroleum jelly and beeswax. Removing them may take repeated washings or a stronger shampoo than you would otherwise use, which can also damage hair. Newer, water-based formulas help avoid this problem. But remember: A little goes a long way.
Match Your Shampoo to Your Hair Type
Formulating different shampoos for different types of hair isn’t just a marketing ploy. These products contain specific ingredients to remedy problems like dryness and excess oil in hair.
Shampoos for dry hair contain fats or oils, humectants (water-drawing ingredients like glycerin or glycerol), and panthenol, a form of vitamin B5. Clarifying shampoos treat oily hair with degreasers, including tea tree oil, rosemary and chamomile. Brittle hair that frizzes and splits easily might benefit from proteins, such as collagen, keratin, and wheat and silk proteins.
When comparing brands of shampoo, don’t judge by price alone. The most expensive products and the cheapest sometimes contain the same active ingredients. Find the one that works best for you.
Get a Haircut
Once hairs sprout from your scalp, it’s no longer growing — they’re just growing older. Hair on the end of a strand, or shaft, can be up to six years old. It’s seen a lot of wear and tear. Also, hair naturally loses moisture with age. The protective outer covering (the cuticle) can split at the ends, which can move farther up the shaft and lead to further weakness, dryness and damage.
A regular trim helps nip the problem in the bud. Hair strength varies with genes, washing routine and other treatments, and exposure to sun and heat, so some guys can go longer between cuts than others. Because the cuticle reflects light, dull hair is a sign that the cuticle is cracking up. Act soon to avoid a head full of frizzies.
Eat Right and Exercise
Eating a healthy diet is the only way to truly nourish hair. Substances applied from the outside can only improve appearance and texture.
Hair needs the same spectrum of nutrients as the rest of the body, and some are especially beneficial. For example, hair is largely protein. Meat and dairy foods pack the most protein punch, with soy foods running a close second. Biotin, a B vitamin, promotes softness and strength. It’s found in brown rice, leafy greens and eggs. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish and nuts are especially good for the scalp. Getting enough fluid in both food and drink is also essential to handsome hair.
And exercise? It increases the blood flow, delivering all those nutrients to your scalp — which, you’ll remember, is where healthy hair starts.
Some days your hair can have a mind of its own and some days it works just perfectly. What we know is that it needs proper care for best results. Whether you style your hair everyday or prefer to throw it back into a pony tail, here are some daily hair care tips especially for us girls that can keep you away from unruly hair dilemmas.
Clean It Up!
It’s always good to start with a good base of clean and shiny hair. Keep it clean by washing it regularly, which can mean several times a week or every day. Shampooing cleans the scalp and hair by removing dirt, oil and product build-up, but it can also take out the natural oils that make your hair shiny, bouncy and easy to control. It’s best to use a shampoo specifically designed for your type of hair; Whether your hair is curly, straight, frizzy, flat, stressed out or colored, there’s a shampoo for every hair type. Also consider special shampoo made for swimmers if you’re in the pool or at the beach a lot. Follow the directions on the product and know when your hair needs a good wash.
How to Shampoo
Soak hair in water. Apply shampoo designed for your hair type. Use just enough to work up a good lather all over. Rinse well.
Conditioner is used to add moisture to the hair, so it becomes tangle-free and easier to comb. Read the descriptions of the different conditioners before you buy, and choose one that fits your hair needs. Follow the directions on the product and use the right amount for your hair length.
How to Condition
After shampooing, rinse well and squeeze extra water from your hair. Place the appropriate amount of conditioner in the palm of your hand. Put your hands together and rub them a little bit to get the conditioner on both hands. Begin at the ends of your hair and work upward to apply the conditioner. For best results, follow the directions on the product, including the amount of time to leave the conditioner in your hair. Rinse your hair under cool or lukewarm water until the sliminess of the product is gone.
If you have naturally curly hair, embrace it! After washing your hair, don’t rub it dry with a towel. It will break up the curls and make it frizzy. Instead, scrunch it gently in a towel to squeeze out the extra water. Put in products you like to use, and then let your hair dry naturally. If you want to use a hairdryer, use a diffuser attachment and turn your head upside down, scrunching your hair with your fingers as you go.
If you have straight hair and want to achieve a curly look, use a towel to gently blot out any extra water. Add gel or mousse. Then twist small sections of hair into little ringlets. Hold them in place with bobby pins, or wrap sections of hair in cushioned rollers. Sleep on it overnight or use a hair dryer. When hair is completely dry, spray with a light hairspray. Take out the pins and curlers and shake out your hair. Comb through your hair with your fingers. Try this a few times, taking different size sections and making curls in different places to see what works best.
If you have naturally wavy or slightly curly hair and want it to be straight, gently squeeze out the extra water. Next, apply a heat protectant and use a dryer with a nozzle attachment to help you concentrate heat on one area at a time. Divide your hair into eight sections, and dry one section at a time. Gently pull hair straight with a brush while you dry it to create a smooth, even finish. If you are looking for an extra smooth finish, you can use a flat iron to smooth over any frizzy pieces.
If you have very curly hair and want to make it straight, you can follow the same tips above or you may need to use a relaxer or straightener. Talk with your parents first to get their approval, and to see if they have any recommendations. They may take you to a salon where a professional can help your hair stay straight for a few months.
Be Healthy and Protect Your Hair
Hair is a reflection of your health. If you take care of you by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising and getting enough sleep, your hair will show it. If you’re not healthy, your hair won’t be either.
To take care of your hair, you also need to be gentle and protect it. From the water you use to wash your hair (not too hot or too cold), to combing in small sections to detangle carefully working from the ends in a downward direction, and from using hot air from a blow dryer to other styling tools like curling irons or flat irons, these can all take a toll on your hair and dry it out. There are special products to use before using styling tools to minimize the damage. Also consider the environment: wear a hat, cap or scarf if you can protect your hair from over-exposure to the sun, salt or chlorinated water, wind and air pollution.
With these hair tips you will learn how to keep your hair healthy and strong, and you will be rewarded with a great-looking mane that’s easy to tame!