All around the world and throughout the ages, hair has held tremendous historical and cultural significance. Its length or styling can signify religious beliefs or political affiliations or indicate one’s status in a group or tribe. In legends and Bible stories, hair has been believed to be imbued with supernatural powers. In some cultures, hair is considered so sacred you’re not supposed to touch or cut it. In other cultures, hair is kept hidden to keep its supposed enticing, erotic nature under control.
Even in modern Western society, hair holds a touch of this illicit, lascivious power. Well, maybe not exactly — but great looking hair is still closely connected to attractiveness. The first thing we ask our friends, before taking a photo, is “Does my hair look OK?” Our hair’s effect on our appearance is why we spend so much time thinking about and caring for our tresses. Here are some tips for solving common hair problems, so you’re always selfie-ready.
1. Hair Loss
Premature hair loss is more common than you’d think, in both biological sexes. Around 80% of men and almost half of women experience it. Though you may associate hair loss with middle age, male pattern baldness can start as soon as your late teens. And despite its prevalence, hair loss can still hurt your chances in the modern dating pool. Many people seek treatment when they notice their hair start to thin or recede at the front of the hairline.
If you struggle with hair loss, there are topical treatments and shampoos that can help. There’s also finasteride, a prescription pill that can boost regrowth and prevent the hairline from receding. Folks with more severe male pattern baldness might eventually want to consider a hair transplant, if other methods fail. Either way, it’s a good idea to get a quick online health consult before beginning any treatment. Hair loss could be a symptom of a more serious medical issue that needs addressing.
2. Split Ends
Split ends happen when the ends of your hair get brittle and dry, and divide into little Y shapes. Over-washing, blow-drying, hot weather, straightening, and other forms of intense temperature exposure can cause split ends. If you have split ends, your hair can break or won’t grow as long. Hair with split ends is also more prone to tangling, and tends to look messy and uneven. There are several different types of split ends, all with different breakage patterns.
To prevent split ends, wash your hair gently and less frequently — once every two or three days. Towel dry gently, or simply let your hair air dry, and stay away from harsh styling tools or products. Avoid using heat on the ends of your hair, and be mindful of the type of brush or comb you use. Once you do get split ends, the only real treatment is to cut or trim the hair. But a plethora of products can minimize the appearance of split ends and strengthen hair against future damage.
Your scalp can be the root cause of a lot of bad hair day culprits. Dandruff is one of the most embarrassing, because the white flakes of skin get all over your hair and clothes. Several different things can cause dandruff, including oily skin, dry skin, or a fungus called Malassezia. Dandruff can also be a symptom of an underlying skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. Ingredients in shampoo or hair care products can cause or trigger dandruff, and the weather may play a role.
Dandruff is harmless, but you’ll probably want to treat it to protect your dignity. For mild cases, try a medicated over-the-counter dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders, Neutrogena T/Gel, or Selsun Blue. Natural remedies like tea tree oil haven’t been proven effective, but some people find success with these products. If none of these options work, you may need prescription medication, which can include a topical antifungal. More aggressive treatments include corticosteroids or certain immunosuppressants.
4. Scalp Sweat
A sweaty scalp can really ruin your look, especially if you have hyperhidrosis. The sweat seeps into your hair and can soak through to the ends of even the longest locks. Hair can get so sweaty it looks like you just washed your hair and forgot to blow dry. In short, sweaty hair isn’t cute, and you might want to take action to prevent it.
To combat sweaty hair, try shampoo or hair products with menthol, mint, or aloe to keep your skin cool. Talcum powder, dry shampoo, or specially formulated antiperspirants for the hair and scalp can help too. Prescription antiperspirant creams could also be an option, and some cases need oral medication. One more extreme treatment for a sweaty scalp is botox injections, roughly every 4-6 months. If you don’t want to take such drastic measures, a tight bun or a simple bandana can also go a long way.
Nourishing Your Hair for Long-Term Health
To prevent some of these frustrating hair problems from cropping up in the first place, look at the broader picture. It might surprise you, but your diet plays a huge role in the look, feel, and health of your hair. Eating enough nutrients like protein and Omega 3-fatty acids can help ward off dandruff. Add dark green veggies to this mix to keep your hair extra strong and prevent split ends. Hair is a barometer for your health, so if you take care of your body, your locks will show it.