Thursday, 23 November 2017

Troubleshooting your hair

Some times hair can just have that... feeling.

Like there is something wrong. It doesn't appreciate what it usually likes, the texture feels off or it just tangles more than usual. You have more bad hairdays than usual.
Does it needs to be cleansed deeper? Or does it need a deep conditioning? Was it cone overload? Oil buildup? Maybe it needs more moisture? Protein? Hard water build up? Chlorine?
It can be really hard to tell, since hair products are literally made to mask problems and make your hair look and  feel good.

You can get some answers by washing with a clarifying shampoo.
These might also be found under titles such as "purifying", "detox" and deep-cleansing".
Clarifying shampoos will remove all the potential problems and leave your hair squeaky clean, ready to be diagnosed.

The difference between regular shampoos and clarifying shampoos is that clarifying shampoo contains none of those nice ingredients that will make your hair and scalp feel better after use. A clarifying shampoo is a cleanser, nothing more. It doesn't deposit anything back on your hair. It will remove the leftovers of whatever it was you were using to tame it.

But it also means that they strip away the natural oils and product leftovers that keep your hair shiny and your scalp well-moisturized. Your hair might feel really awful afterwards, but that can be fixed after the diagnosis.

As awful as this sounds, this is actually the effect you want if you reach for a clarifying shampoo!

Since there are no laws about printing "clarifying", "purifying", "detox" and deep-cleansing" on a shampoo bottle, take a look at the ingredient list to make sure you actually have a clarifying shampoo on your hands.
  • It should contain no silicones. Those help "coat" hair. Silicones can be identified by the ending "one" or "xane". Especially amodimethicone is prone to build up.
  • It should contain no quaterniums. Those help binding to damaged areas of the hair. Quaterniums can be identified by the ending "ium". Especially polyquaternium 10 and 11 are prone to build up.
  • Avoid guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride and anything that ends with "methosulfate”
The ingredient list should generally be as short and simple as possible. You just want cleansing agents in this. No occlusives like oils or cones. No humectants like glycerin or sorbitol.

In this case, where you need an absolutely stripping product, the best-avoided sodium laurel sulfate is an okay choice on your ingredient list. (Yes, even though it's so potentially irritating it can be used to trigger a positive reaction in patch testing because it will cause irritation in half an hour when applied undiluted) Think about it like this: You would rather only have to use a clarifying shampoo once and get the answers you need, than having to repeat the process.

Make sure to ingredient-check so you only have to clarify once and can return to your usual haircare routine again!

The process for troubleshooting your hair is simple
  1. Wash your hair with the clarifying shampoo. Be thorough, but don't let it sit for longer than normal. If you have picked an actual, clarifying shampoo, it shouldn't be necessary to repeat it either.
  2. Rinse thoroughly.
  3. Wrap your hair gently in a towel and let it air dry naturally. 
  4. Observe how your hair looks and feels

Important notices
  • Do not condition after using the clarifying shampoo! No matter how awful your hair feels like after the shampoo, don't add anything else to it.
  • Do not blow dry to speed up the drying process! Not with cool air either, as the air stream can help make the hair scales lie flat and keep hiding what your hair needs.
  • Do not comb your hair during the drying process, as this can also help smoothing down the hair scales.

It can be difficult to accurately describe how hair feels, but if your hair feels...
Brittle: You probably overloaded on protein. Give your hair some regular moisture.
Crunchy and dry: You probably overloaded on protein. Give your hair some regular moisture.
Fragile: Your hair could probably use some protein to rebuild it's strength.
Halo of flyaways: Your hair could probably use some moisture.
Lost all body: Your hair could probably use some moisture.
Tangly: You probably overloaded on protein. Give your hair some regular moisture.
Wirey and rough: Your hair could probably use some protein to rebuild it's strength.

If your hair now seems happier than it was before, it was probably just too many good things at once in your haircare routine. It happens to everyone sooner or later. You get carried away with wanting all the best for your hair, and it has resulted in build up.

If none of these descriptions helped, or your hair feels like a combination of all, your best guess is the best treatment. Maybe you should reach for a beloved old favorite now that you have removed the problem-causing build up.

  • Recognizing a conditioner with protein in it: It sometimes says on the front, but is written out on the ingredient list and not hidden under numbers or Latin names. 
  • Recognizing a conditioner with moisturizing ingredients in it: Look in the ingredient list for cetearyl alcohol, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, propylene glycol, sodium PCA, sodium lactate and sorbitol. There are many more moisturizing ingredients though!

1 comment:

  1. The only problem with trying to diagnose hair issues and using a clarifying shampoo is that it will strip it---which in itself, can cause all the problems listed.

    I use clarifying shampoo daily for my scalp needs. I have SD and if I don't remove all the oil from my scalp, it will be sore, scabby and cranky. I"ve spent years trying to find the right balance. However, I once did just this, and my hair dresser said 'never skip conditioner' (meaning the ends). She explained that a clarifying shampoo is removing everything, and it's not a natural way to determine hair problems. She said by using your regular shampoo method and conditioning method, it's better to identify issues based on that.

    Keep in mine I work in a dirty environment (riding horses, lots of hat useage for me and sweat) and I ONLY Scalp wash. My ends are never affected, BUT, anyone with long hair, your ends will be very dry as it's the oldest hair. I also color/cover my gray so that also changes my texture.

    I used to have many signs of overload prior to coloring. They went as follows:
    Cone overload : flat/flyaway hair, no body. Remedy, change conditioner type to weightless/water based
    Greasy scalp: Change type of clarifying shampoo (I use Neutrogena which is fairly mild compared to others out there. I used to LOVE Herbal Essence Clarifying but the current one is HORRIBLE! It made my hair break and dry up so badly.

    Problems with hair is also a question of your scalp---scalp issues if identified, can make happier hair.

    The geek I am, I would keep track of all shampoos and conditioners and then make notes after a 2 week use of daily washes. I miss Timotei. We had that in Canada for years, and then in the late 90s, it was discontinued. That was the BEST shampoo I ever used: ph balanced for all hair types, and it was so mild--I had to wash daily and 2x due to very greasy scalp, and my hair was never cranky. I miss that shampoo--and the smell was so nice and natural too.

    Ok, remanicing is over ;)