Hair care is an overall term for hygiene and cosmetology involving the hair which grows from the human scalp, and other body hair. Hair care routines differ according to an individual’s culture and the physical characteristics of one’s hair. Hair may be colored, trimmed, shaved, plucked, or otherwise removed with treatments such as waxing, sugaring, and threading. Hair care services are offered in salons, barbershops, and day spas, and products are available commercially for home use.
Processes and Hygiene
Hair care and care of the scalp skin may appear separate, but are actually intertwined because hair grows from beneath the skin. The living parts of hair (hair follicle, hair root, root sheath, and sebaceous gland) are beneath the skin, while the actual hair shaft which emerges (the cuticle which covers the cortex and medulla) has no living processes. Damage or changes made to the visible hair shaft cannot be repaired by a biological process, though much can be done to manage hair and ensure that the cuticle remains intact.
Scalp skin, just like any other skin on the body, must be kept healthy to ensure a healthy body and healthy hair production. If the scalp is cleaned regularly or daily by those who have rough hair or have a hair-fall problem, it can result in loss of hair. However, not all scalp disorders are a result of bacterial infections. Some arise inexplicably, and often only the symptoms can be treated for management of the condition (example: dandruff). There are also bacteria that can affect the hair itself.
The sebaceous glands in human skin produce sebum, which is composed primarily of fatty acids. Sebum acts to protect hair and skin, and can inhibit the growth of microorganisms on the skin. Sebum contributes to the skin’s slightly acidic natural pH somewhere between 5 and 6.8 on the pH spectrum. This oily substance gives hair moisture and shine as it travels naturally down the hair shaft, and serves as a protective substance by preventing the hair from drying out or absorbing excessive amounts of external substances. Sebum is also distributed down the hair shaft “mechanically” by brushing and combing. When sebum is present in excess, the roots of the hair can appear oily, greasy, and darker than normal, and the hair may stick together.
One way to distribute the hair’s natural oils through the hair is by brushing with a natural bristle brush. The natural bristles effectively move the oil from the scalp through to the hair’s mid-lengths and ends, nourishing these parts of the hair. Brushing the scalp also stimulates the sebaceous gland, which in turn produces more sebum. When sebum and sweat combine on the scalp surface, they help to create the acid mantle, which is the skin’s own protective layer.
How to Wash Hair
Washing hair removes excess sweat and oil, as well as unwanted products from the hair and scalp. Often hair is washed daily as part of a shower or bathing with shampoo, a specialized surfactant. Shampoos work by applying water and shampoo to the hair. The shampoo breaks the surface tension of the water, allowing the hair to become soaked. This is known as the wetting action. The wetting action is caused by the head of the shampoo molecule attracting the water to the hair shaft. Conversely, the tail of the shampoo molecule is attracted to the grease, dirt and oil on the hair shaft.
The physical action of shampooing makes the grease and dirt become an emulsion that is then rinsed away with the water. This is known as the emulsifying action. Sulfate free shampoos are less harming on color treated hair than normal shampoos that contain sulfates. Sulfates strip away natural oils as well as hair dye. Sulfates are also responsible for the foaming effect of shampoos.
Shampoos have a pH of between 4 and 6. Acidic shampoos are the most common type used and maintain or improve the condition of the hair as they don’t swell the hairshaft and don’t strip the natural oils.
Conditioners are often used after shampooing to smooth down the cuticle layer of the hair, which can become roughened during the physical process of shampooing. There are three main types of conditioners: anti-oxidant conditioners, which are mainly used in salons after chemical services and prevent creeping oxidation; internal conditioners, which enter into the cortex of the hair and help improve the hair’s internal condition (also known as treatments); and external conditioners, or everyday conditioners, which smooth down the cuticle layer, making the hair shiny, combable and smooth. Conditioners can also provide a physical layer of protection for the hair against physical and environmental damage.
In 1903, German drugstore owner Hans Schwarzkopf created a powder formula that became the one of the first modern shampoos, Head Shampoo. 24 years later the same inventor created the liquid version currently used.
Head Shampoo is one of the first mass-market products from the organic products movement beginning in the early 1970s. It is produced by the Head Organics Company of Carson, California USA.
The product is a shampoo first produced in 1971 by two Los Angeles-based hairstylists who were concerned about the harm they feared traditional shampoos might cause to hair and who created the formula in a garage.
The product was first sold through drug paraphernalia shops, or “head shops,” hence the name.
It is red in color and a colorless version, Clearly Head, was produced in response to concerns it would turn consumers’ hair red.
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