The texture, pattern, density and natural colour of you hair depends on our inhereted genes. However, the look and condition of your hair lies very much in your own hands since it is largely affected by your general health, hair hygiene, choice of hair products (shampoos, conditioners, mousses etc.) and grooming equipment (combs, brushes, curling irons, hair dryers, etc). Almost any illness or emotional stress can result in lifeless, dull hair.
On average, hair grows at a rate of about ½in (13mm) a month. Inexplicably, it grows more quickly at night than during the day and faster in summer than in winter. It is the hair’s thin coating of sebum (a natural oil secreted by the scalp’s sebaceous glands) that keeps it looking supple and shiny, so caring for your scalp is just as important as looking after the hair itself.
If you have no obvious hair problems such as dandruff or any form of alopecia, healthy hair can be maintained by washing hair and scalp regularly and eating an adequate, balanced diet. There are no hard and fast rules as to how frequently hair should be washed – if your hair is particularly greasy, it could be as often as every day, in which case a mild or “frequent use” shampoo should be used. Those with dry hair should avoid over-washing and could benefit from professional treatment.
In our attempts to improve one of our most striking assets, we can sometimes do our hair more harm than good. Dyeing, bleaching, relaxing, and perming can all damage the hair, but even using such apparently innocuous items as plastic brushes, metal combs, and rollers can have a detrimental effect. Similarly, strong sunshine, sea water and chlorinated swimming pools can all dry the hair and scalp, so take preventative measures such as wearing a swimming cap, and protecting your hair with a hat in the strong sunshine.
To prevent tearing the hair, which leads to split ends, avoid using sharp combs or brushes, and comb it gently when it’s wet. Wherever possible, towel dry; If you use a hair dryer, keep it at least 6in (15cm) from your head and on a medium rather than a high setting. In fact, hair loss is a process that continues unremarked throughout out lives when the old hair drops out to make way for new growth (a healthy adult normally sheds between 50 and 100 hairs each day). However, it can become more apparent at certain times – in the case of women due to hormonal changes after childbirth and during menopause, and, irrespective of sex, after taking some drugs for the treatment of cancer.