READERS, we’ve heard your requests - hair worries, scalp problems, tips & tricks, you name it! Thus, we have decided to come up with this series – Spend Wisely Series, where we recommend and you decide.
So on today’s episode on Spend Wisely Series, we will be touching on how to choose your hair care products scientifically based on scalp problems you face! Want to know if you have spent your money wisely? Then, stay tune on this week’s Spend Wisely Series!
So let’s start off by discussing about healthy hair. How do we actually know if our hair is healthy? Well, some signs to look at are smooth texture, minimal breakage and shedding, shiny, dandruff-free and not oily or dry, etc.
Let’s narrow it down to THREE signs to know if your hair is healthy.
1. The texture of your hair is smooth and shiny – Healthy hair has a lipid outer layer called 18-MEA. This entire structure acts as a protective cushion and cement between the cuticle scale layers. The covalently-bonded 18-MEA is responsible for providing hair with its hydrophobicity (water-repellent property), which protects hair by preventing it from absorbing too much water from the environment. It also provides hair with softness, lubricity, and shine.
2. There is minimal breakage and shedding of your hair – The strength of the hair is determined by cortex layer. Harsh treatment like perm and permanent color dye will penetrate to this layer and cause damage.
3. Your hair is dandruff-free, not oily or dry – Either scenario is caused by internal hormones imbalance or fungus on the scalp or external reasons like stress, malnutrition etc.
Next, let's talk about what common hair problems we face and how we can judge if the products purchased are right for us? I will be taking our products as reference to illustrate how.
Problem 1. Dandruff hairOur entire body surface continuously sheds dead skin cells and normal skin renewal cycle is between 24-30 days. Dandruff is the shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp at an excessive rate ( cell renewal cycle between 17-20 days).
Ingredients: Deionized Water, Ascophyllum Nodosum (Seaweed) Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera (Sea Kelp) Extract, Zinc Pyrithione, Cocoamidoproply Betaine, Cocoamide Mea, Dimethicone, Fragrance (Parfum), Triethanolamine
Product Claim: Prevent Hair loss vs Actual Function: Anti-dandruff & Hair Thickening
Ascophyllum Nodosum (Seaweed) Extract is to fertilize the crops and boost growth. With modification of the chemical compounds, it can help with the hair growth and prevent breakage. Macrocystis Pyrifera (Sea Kelp) Extract also contains various vitamins and minerals which nourish and soothe the scalp, especially the roots of the hair.
Zinc Pyrithione is strong anti-fungal agent and it is the key ingredient to combat dandruff. Other ingredients such as Salicylic Acid, Climbazole or Piroctone Olamine can also cure dandruff.
Problem 2. Dry hair
Dry hair usually occurs when the hair does not retain enough moisture which results in reduction in sheen, making it appear frizzy and dull. It can be caused by different environmental factors and hair care practices. A simple tip to prevent dry hair is to avoid shampooing your hair everyday, this allows the natural oils of your hair to protect the inner layers of your hair, which adds luster and softness to it.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Glycerin*, Cocamidopropyl Betaine*, Coco-Glucoside*, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate*, Sorbeth-230 Tetraoleate*, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Honey*, Decyl Glucoside*, Sorbitan Laurate*, Provitamin B5 (D-Panthenol), Sodium PCA, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein*, Saccharide Isomerate*, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil*, Essential Blend*, Citric Acid*, Caprylyl Glycol*, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate*, Phenoxyethanol
Product Claim: Hydrating vs Actual Claim: Gentle Cleansing and Hydrating
Don't get intimidated by the long ingredient list. We only need to focus on some key ingredients. Most of the ingredients a shampoo contain are surfactants. Surfactants have many functions in a shampoo. Its main function is to act as cleansing agent, but it also contributes to foaming, provides synergy with primary surfactants, mitigate irritations from other surfactants, etc. There are 4 types of surfactants: Anionic, Cationic, Ampheric and non-ionic. Anionic surfactants have the best cleansing power but is too strong for dry hair. Choose shampoos with the other three types of surfactants. Too complicated to choose? Try our own cheat tip: surfactant ingredients ended with xylate, amine, oxide or xyl are more gentle ones. Works for most of the time.
Also do you always see “Sulfate free” labels on shampoos? Avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which is the strongest anionic surfactant that can cause irritation to the scalp. If you really cannot avoid Sulfate shampoos, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), an ethoxylated version of SLS, is milder compared to SLS but unfortunately still a known irritant.
Oil components are very important when it comes to the hydration of hair. Lipid compounds in shampoos can also prevent hair cuticles to get swelled up by water and protect the cuticle layers.
Problem 3. Oily hair
Oily hair occurs when one does not properly clean his scalp, leading to a build-up of oil, dirt and chemicals. Excess sebaceous production is why you have oily scalp. The cause of it can vary.
Ingredients: Isopropyl Myristate, Sodium Lauroyl Glycinate, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Decyl Glucoside, Pentylene Glycol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
Product Claim: Oil Control with no Irritation to the hair vs Actual Claim: Remove oil and minimal irritation to the scalp
Simple yet effective ingredients. This shampoo contains anionic surfactants (chemicals ending with nate or sulfate) that does its cleansing job and mitigate the irritation with non-ionic ones, thus removing oils but still in a moderate way.
Problem 4. Hair loss
Hair loss is more commonly seen in men than women at an earlier age. It is also caused by different factors such as inadequate intake of protein, taking in too much Vitamin A, hormonal change, stress, etc.
Human hair is approximately 91% protein (50% keratin). A lot of shampoos in the market contains B5 vitamin (protein) and keratin compounds to strengthen the hair. Identify the cause first. Shampoo does not really help with hormonal hair loss. It is usually treated by doctors.
Tips and tricks for better hair care:
- Eat right!
What you eat can have a huge effect on the health of your hair. Eating nuts, fatty fish, berries and spinach, etc helps with hair growth. All these foods contain the right nutrients that will promote hair growth, prevent hair loss and add shine to your hair.
Nuts - provide a wide variety of B vitamins, zinc and essential fatty acids. A deficiency in any of these nutrients has been linked to hair loss.
Fatty fish - which includes salmon, herring and mackerel have excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to hair growth.
Berries - known to be loaded with vitamins and mineral which includes vitamin C, that has strong antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help protect hair follicles against damage from harmful molecules called free radicals.
Spinach - is a healthy green vegetable that’s loaded with beneficial nutrients like folate, iron, and vitamins A and C, all of which helps the skin glands produce sebum. This oily substance helps moisturize the scalp to keep hair healthy.
- Hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE!
Hydration is very important, it promotes cell growth and reproduction. Lack of hydration will not only hinder cell replacement but also weaken your immune system.
- DIY hair aromatherapy massage
Massaging the scalp with essential oils such as lavender oil, rosemary oil, cedarwood oil help to stimulate blood flow to the scalp which encourage hair growth. Be sure to mix only a few drops into a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, into a small bottle before using. Don't forget to test for any allergies!
- Use the right hair care product
Using a shampoo that contains beneficial vitamins helps to nourish and hydrate your hair. Vitamin A, B, C and or E are known to nourish and hydrate your hair. Choosing the wrong shampoo will strip your hair of its natural oils and cause more damage.
With all the information at your fingertips, happy shopping!