Go easy on your mane

Even though our hair does not have sensations of pain, it does get damaged with constant use of artificial substances and chemical treatments, reminds Dr Apoorva Shah 

 Since the beginning of civilisation, humans have constantly involved themselves in grooming and beauty practices. But being in vogue has never been more imperative than it is today. This desire to be presentable and attractive has made us experimental with hair colours and styling practices as well.

Be it out of need in an industry they are working for or just as a personal choice, men and women alike are styling their hair in various ways. People use hair gels and mousses available readily in market to style their hair.

 It may seem harmless, but the damages are evident over long-term use. Over-coating hair with paraffin or wax-based products damages the shaft of the hair and causes dry and dull, lacklustre appearance of hair.

 A simple solution to this would be not to keep such products on the hair for long time and shampoo them off, as soon as you can. If possible, replace such products with natural products like oil or aloe vera pulp.

The next most followed fashion treatment is colouring. Today, colouring has almost become a necessity for any young adult who starts greying. Colouring generally starts with henna, an age-old remedy to camouflage greys.

As far as one uses natural henna, it is safe. But different versions of it, like ‘black mehendi’, are chemical-based products, which not only damage hair, but can also cause contact dermatitis of the scalp.

Over a period of regular colouring, many people complain of pigmentation on the forehead. So whenever you decide to colour your hair, ensure you use good branded products with no or very less ammonia, and always keep the frequency of touch ups as low as possible. 

There are some chemical treatments that are best avoided altogether - straightening and perming. Straightening is given different names such as relaxing, smoothening, rebonding and extenso. Whatever you call it, the process is all about moulding the hard proteins in hair to reshape them as you desire.

Every time one does any such treatment, there is 20 percent permanent loss of hair and that is cumulative. Still, if one wishes to do any such treatment, the hair should first be analysed to check whether it will bear such abuse.

It is also essential to follow extensive after-care. Temporary ironing, too, is equally harmful, if done on a regular basis. But if you simply must iron your hair, it is best to limit it to once or twice a month.

Another trend doing the rounds is wearing extensions to give volume to the hair. There are different methods to attach the extensions. If you are continuously using wax attachments to get extensions, you will be subjecting your natural hair to constant yanking and pulling. This can easily cause patchy hair loss, known as traction alopecia. Instead, use clips for temporary attachments and remove those regularly.

Remember to let your real mane breathe a little.With all modern (mostly western) treatments becoming popular, the age-old Indian practices, like oiling the hair, using herbal extracts (like shikakai powder) to wash and rinse the hair, have been long forgotten.

Funnily enough, the western world has realised the importance of such practices and is adapting them in its beauty therapies and treatments.

That should be enough reason for us to turn back to our roots. What you eat does show on your body, and your hair too. Having a well-balanced diet can make a great difference to your hair’s health; follow a strict diet regimen for a month, and you will be able to notice the difference for yourself. 

Indian cuisines are, typically, well-balanced and sticking to them will yield excellent results. Make sure you include all kinds of pulses, legumes and nuts in your diet, as they are rich in proteins, and will help your hair to stay  thick and healthy. 

So, ditch the junk food and embrace healthy food habits for good hair. The idea is to make a conscious effort to increase your intake of green, leafy vegetables like spinach, coriander, curry leaves, broccoli, and lettuce. Instead of using them as mere garnish, make a whole dish out of them and consume it at least once a week. 

But, above all, we need to remember that hair, too, is a part of our body. Even though it does not have sensations of pain, it does get damaged with constant use of artificial substances, and excessive chemical treatments on it would mean physical abuse. 
(The writer is the founder of Richfeel Hair and Scalp Clinics) 

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