Friday, September 28, 2012

My Hair Washing And Detangling Basics

I have been asked about my hair washing and detangling routines several times lately in blog emails. My hair does not tangle wet or dry, thanks to using catnip or cosmetic USP/BP mineral oil. I use baby oil. It can snag sometimes but that is not the same as a tangle as snags for me release easily. My hair is wavy and can curl around itself at times. I gently pull a snag apart sideways and if the hair starts to tighten at the ends, I pull individual hairs up, so that they slip easily out of the other hairs because the cuticles are still down. My hair length presently is almost to my waist.

It does not matter whether you wash your hair as I do, all forward or back behind you, washing hair in one direction I have found, works to help reduce hair stress and breakage. This is what I recommend having done both routines successfully for several years.

1. Before washing, gently detangle dry hair first. You can use a wide tooth comb or your fingers, very carefully. I gently separate my hair length and finger comb the top of my hair. The point is be gentle.

2. Do not detangle hair with a brush. It is harsher on the hair and can cause more breakage than using a wide toothed comb or hands. 

3. Do not pile all of you hair on top of your head when washing it. That creates tangles.

4. I start by gently separating my hair length under shower water with my hands, releasing any clumps the water may have caused. This can be done at a sink too. I wash my scalp after first lathering a small amount of shampoo with my hands. I apply such small amounts to sections of my scalp to ensure even distribution. I then add more water to my scalp and proceed with shampooing. The lather is then worked through my hair length in one direction to not create tangles.

When hair is wet, it swells and the cuticles are raised. Washing and rinsing in one direction, down in the direction the cuticles naturally go, helps keep them aligned. Hair does not need to be "scrubbed" or massaged like the scalp does. Manipulating hair too much when it is wet roughens up the cuticles and that can cause mechanical damage through tangling too. Hair does need to have the shampoo lather worked through it to remove coatings, even catnip, which does not build-up for me since I shampoo every time before reapplying it.

Only if needed do I add a small amount of extra shampoo to the length when washing my hair, lathered with my hands first to make distribution easier and more even. I simply squeeze the lather through the length, right down to the ends. I need enough lather to to that and I have usually have enough to make sure all of the length is covered each time, by pushing the lather down from the scalp through the length. It does not take a lot of lather to do that and I do not use a lot of shampoo each time I wash my hair. Less is more with hair care. I only shampoo once. I do not "Lather, rinse repeat." Two shampoos at one time are rarely necessary for anyone and the direction on shampoo bottles for that is mostly for marketing. Now many shampoo bottles just say "Repeat if desired".

5. By washing and rinsing out shampoo this way, loose hair releases easily. When rinsing, I gently separate my length, section by section, to further help this happen. It is perfectly normal to lose some hair during washing if you are massaging the scalp. I would worry if no hair shed during washing or detangling as hair naturally sheds and new growth replaces shed hair. It is considered normal for humans to shed up to 150 hairs per day from the scalp. That number varies with individuals and can be more or less.

6. Do not use a brush to detangle wet hair at any time, no matter what kind of brush it is that you have. That is old news for hair care and is a truism. Wet hair is more fragile and can be easily stressed and tear more easily than damp or dry hair.

7. Using catnip or mineral oil to condition, I find it is easier to simply use my hands and fingers to apply either and distribute them. I squeeze the catnip through my hair length, and apply it repeatedly to top hair, parting hair with my fingers to get to the hair underneath. After my catnip treatment, I rinse it out and gently separate the length the same way I do after shampooing. Since trying mineral oil as baby oil, I apply it with my fingers and hands, rather than than using a wide toothed comb for distribution. I can gently undo a snag that way and I have more control if there is a snag. I leave the baby oil in my hair and do not need to reapply more until I use it again between catnip treatments. It washes out completely with my next shampooing.