Gen X. Totally.

Smart & simple haircare advice that everyone can use

Woman holding shampoo -hair care tips

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Haircare is a such personal thing. Styles often differ with age, ethnicity, and lifestyle — not to mention personal preference.

While hair care is mostly a series of experiments, here, we have some is simple haircare advice that everyone can use to maintain beautiful, healthy-looking hair.
Washing your hair

Hair-washing is a regular part of many of our daily routines. But should we be introducing all of those shampoos and conditioners to our hair on a daily basis?

That really depends on the person, says Apple A. Bodemer, MD, a dermatologist with University of Wisconsin Health.

In many cases, washing your hair every day can lead to damaged hair. For example, she says, “Hair that is not shiny or with split ends could be that way because of over-washing.”

Shampoos can strip hair of the natural oils that are there in the first place to help keep the shaft intact, and hair looking full and healthy.

Using a conditioner, of course, can help protect the hair from damage, reducing split ends and static fly-aways.

African Americans and others with curly hair may fall into the dry hair category, which requires less washing, while people of European and Asian descent often has hair that is oilier and needs more frequent washing.

Since everyone is different — and each person’s hair also changes over time — a smart idea is to experiment with washing frequency to see what works best for you. Can you get away with a wash every other day, or every third? Maybe a warm water rinse instead of a full wash? Try them and find out.

When you do wash your hair, Bodemer suggests using lukewarm water and rinsing with cold water afterward to seal the hair shaft. “This is particularly helpful if you use a lot of hair care products.”

Avoid curling irons and flattening irons, as well as hair dryers

Using curling and flattening irons and blow dryers will dehydrate and damage hair, says Bodemer. The best way to avoid the damage is to decrease or avoid their use altogether.

If you are going to style your hair, you may try doing it only a few days a week, and go for a different look on off days with a ponytail, bun, or braids.

On the days you do style, try using a lower heat setting on the iron or dryer, and don’t leave the iron in one place for more than two seconds. Decreasing heat and frequency will reduce damage, giving you healthier hair.

Gentle detangling hairbrushes — like those seen here — can be a real improvement over hard brushes from decades ago.

Swimming and sun

With warm weather comes more time outside on the beach and at the pool. We devote plenty of time to protecting our skin from the summer sun, but what about our hair? Hours in the sun and in the pool can lead to dry flyaway strands.

What’s doing the damage? Pool chlorine strips hair of natural oils and deposits in the hair shaft. The hair’s protective coating can also be destroyed by chemicals, salt water, and the sun.

Once this layer is gone, the shaft’s inner moisture is exposed, and will evaporate. Bodemer says, “This causes hair to be drier and more brittle, as well as causing discoloration.”

The best thing to do after leaving the pool is to wash your hair, and then use deep conditioners. The good news is that the damaged hair will eventually grow out and be replaced with healthy hair, she says.

Try alternative treatments (Like egg or vinegar)

If you’re up for making hair treatments in your own kitchen, the good news is that she agrees that homemade hair aids — like egg yolk, mayonnaise, and olive oil — will help add shine to your locks. “Anything that’s going to add fat or oil to the hair shaft to coat it is going to help.”

When using egg yolk or mayonnaise don’t overdo it by adding too much, which can lead to excess buildup. (For more old-school beauty ideas, check out Old-fashioned haircare tips for more beautiful hair, the way they did it 100 years ago.)

Vinegar, she says, can remove excess buildup from shampoos — but if you do use it, you should follow up with a conditioner to help replenish the hair.

There are also hair care oils like Moroccan oil that work well to help soften the hair, she says, but you might also consider adding heavier oils, depending on your hair type. Bodemer says African Americans and people with tight, kinky curls can absorb more oil and moisture, and coconut oil or Vaseline works well for these hair types.

Masks, which are thick conditioners, can be especially helpful for repairing hair that is chemically or heat-treated, says Bodemer. Generally, they are used once a week. They can, however, leave thick residue that may weigh hair down —  especially fine hair.

Caring for your hair as we age

Haircare changes as we get older. Our scalp secretes less natural oil, which can affect shine, body and texture. Over-washing hair becomes more of an issue, says Bodemer. Alternating to an every-other-day washing may help maintain better body.

On days that you do shampoo, using a leave-in hydrator or conditioner may help. You can also try carrying a travel-sized spritzer and treat those dry areas during the day.

ALSO SEE: Silky smooth tips for taking care of permed & color-treated hair

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