Living in the desert poses a challenge when it comes to maintaining moisturized locks. The Vegas valley can take a toll on the health and appearance of our hair. Extensive sun exposure, high heat and dry air can damage locks to the point of seemingly no return.
Frayed hair that looks brittle and dull can be a tell-tale sign that the products and or practices currently used are not cutting it. If the extreme climate of the desert has your strands looking parched and in need of some serious attention, these long-standing tips can offer relief to all hair types.
The dry air and environmental heat continuously draw moisture from the hair strands unless the moisture is locked in by an occlusive agent like almond oil, jojoba oil or serums. Instill moisture through deep conditioning, misting or a leave-in before applying an occlusive agent. If not, beneficial oils and serums may lock in dryness with little efficacy towards maintaining moisture.
Deep conditioners sans sulfates applied to the hair in four or more sections ensures even coverage for all strands. Following your deep conditioner with an oil like jojoba or almond oil before covering with a shower cap and applying diffused heat can increase the moisture entering the strands.
Since oil is lighter than water, the oil remains on top of the water creating an occlusion of the moisture to the hair rather than evaporating into the surrounding environment. By coating the deep conditioner, the water in damp hair and the moisture in the deep conditioner are forced into the hair strands.
Gently detangle each section with a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to further distribute the deep conditioner and oil from the ends, slowly working up the strands towards the roots. If the tangles are resisting, add a little more water to that section and begin detangling at a lower point closer to the ends of the hair and work gradually up towards the roots. Bantu knot, bun, twist or braid each section and cover with a shower cap.
Apply heat to damp hair with conditioner to facilitate the opening of the strands' outer cortexes and deep condition with heat for ten minutes to an hour or according to your product’s instructions. Be sure to let the hair cool down before manipulating it to avoid stretching strands as they can be more pliable and fragile when wet and warm.
While applying heat may seem counterintuitive as a remedy for dry hair, when applied indirectly and evenly to damp hair that has sufficient deep conditioner applied allows for moisture to penetrate deeper into the strands. For those with low-porosity hair, indirect heat is a must while deep conditioning to obtain your healthiest hair.
A heating cap or hooded dryer will offer the most thorough and even heating. If neither of those are available a hot damp towel or a hand-held blow dryer may work, though a hand-held dryer can be difficult and tiresome for such an extended period of time.
Some conditioners “contain silicone, a highly reflective—but heavy—substance along with moisture-binding humectants,” as mentioned in Rona Berg’s Beauty the New Basics. Emollients, complex lipids and ceramides encourage hair scales to lie flat, resulting in smoother and shiner hair. Proteins and amino acids penetrate the outer layer of the hair to reinforce the inner cortex to strengthen strands.
For weak damaged hair with ample breakage, protein treatments can help nurse struggling hair back to health. Glosses with bond builders can help bring luster and shine to dull strands. Be sure to use these treatments in moderation according to the instructions as too much protein and or bond builders too often can create stiff strands.
Ingredients like algae, aloe vera, coconut water and rose all bring hydration to strands for soft supple locks. Horsetail herb extract is a great ingredient for all hair woes. “Horsetail is rich in the minerals silica and selenium, which help promote good scalp circulation,” great for both growth and strand health, according to Brigitte Mars as discussed in Beauty by Nature.
For dry tangled hair that shows no improvement from following the above steps consistently for a month or two, it may be time to shelf the heat styling tools like curling irons and flat irons for a bit while you mend the damage. Take a closer look at the ingredients in your hair products and eliminate any that contain drying ingredients. Choose products that focus on "hydrating, nourishing, loving and creating juicy and joyful hair," like those of the Pattern hair care line created by Tracee Ellis Ross.
A thorough clarification of the hair using a clarifying shampoo, apple cider vinegar or bentonite clay may be in order if hair remains lifeless and dull. A long-awaited trim might be keeping you from your best hair if nothing seems to improve the appearance and health of the hair as well. Split ends cannot be mended entirely but can be prevented with diligent hair care practices to support hair health.
Excessive hair loss, scaly patches on the scalp, intense itching or extreme flaking of the scalp may indicate a serious health condition. Seek advice from a medical professional should you experience any of these symptoms.
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