By Pierra Calasanz-Labrador for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
Pop quiz: How much abuse do you subject your hair to?
If your answer involves blow-drying, piling on the hair gunk, exposure to harsh elements, chemical treatments, or all of the above, chances are, your wash-and-wear routine may not be enough to care for your crowning glory.
With the vast array of hair treatments out in the market, there's no excuse to neglect our tresses. So how much care does our hair really need? Here's a little guide to determine if shampoo and conditioner will suffice—or if you need the works!
For 'virgin' hair
If your tresses have "never been touched" by chemical treatments, then it's most likely still in healthy condition—meaning, naturally shiny, split-end free, and strands don't break off easily. Your hair most likely only needs a daily cleansing to wash away excess sebum; just be sure to choose a shampoo variant that suits your hair type. If your scalp or hair strands are slightly dull, dry or frizzy, you may opt to shampoo every other day instead to cleanse hair without drying it out.
However, not all hair is created equal; if your hair is naturally weak and brittle, choose a nourishing shampoo and conditioner, and nourish from within as well with healthy eating habits.
Many Pinays shy away from conditioner because they feel it makes their oily hair even oilier or "bagsak." If that's the case, you just haven't met your match: the right conditioner for your hair type should make your hair much more manageable, soft, smooth, and tangle-free.
To avoid the oily, limp look, hairstylist Ricky Diokno, whose work often appears in ads and magazine editorials, shares the golden rule in conditioning: "Just remember to apply conditioner to the strands and tips, not the roots!"
Subjected to intense heat
Do you constantly blow-dry or iron your hair? The intense heat can zap moisture, or worse, fry your tresses. You'll definitely need to add conditioner to your routine, as well as the occasional hair treatment to rehydrate your hair.
"No need to go to the salon so often," says Ricky. "You can D-I-Y at home once a week by applying a hair mask or treatment." Ricky also recommends using a leave-in conditioner or protective serum to coat your hair strands before styling it to minimize the damage.
Tame the mane: Got a bad case of the frizzies or fly-aways? Conditioner may not be enough; and gel or hairspray might feel too heavy (not to mention, contribute to product build-up). A light, anti-frizz serum will work wonders by taming fly-aways and promoting glossy locks without weighing hair down. For heavy-duty hair-smoothing during humid weather, you may need to switch to a dense anti-frizz cream. Locks all knotted up? Resist the urge to brush it into submission; get some help instead from a detangling conditioning spray.
It's ironic how vanity treatments that are supposed to make our hair look "better" can actually damage our locks in the long run. If you're fond of coloring, straightening, rebonding and other chemical processes, better safeguard your hair with major conditioning treatments to keep it in good condition.
If your locks are dull, brittle, full of split ends or, eek, falling out in alarming bunches, you'll need to call for reinforcements. Invest in an intensive treatment hair care line (yes, not just shampoo and conditioner) that strengthens, nourishes, or better yet, reconstructs hair. Tip: if you like dyeing your locks, it's wise to use shampoo and conditioner especially formulated for colored hair to prevent fading; this helps cut down on visits to the colorist to give your hair (and wallet!) a break.
Also, remember that "cheapest" is not necessarily "best"—you may be saving a lot on the ghetto version of the latest rebonding technique, but if Manang Sally doesn't know how to do it properly, you'll end up shelling out much more to remedy that "walis" hair look.
Sometimes, we may be damaging our hair without even knowing it. Swimming in chlorinated or salt water can make our hair dry, dull and brittle (not to mention, turn it a weird grayish shade).
Exposure to extreme heat or wind can cause a whole crop of problems, from a scalded scalp to dandruff. Meanwhile, roughly toweling dry and vigorously over-brushing hair can cause frictional damage and split ends. What's a girl to do?
There are hair products that are specially formulated to protect against chlorine-damage, but since these are hard to come by locally, a simple solution is to coat your hair with conditioner before going for a swim (so load up on those handy sachets before a beach trip!). Always out in the sun? Protect your scalp with a hat (or better yet, a bandanna or scarf which are more non-abrasive), and invest in scalp care products. And after showering, remember to simply pat hair dry with a towel and air dry before brushing gently. Invest in a good brush, and don't forget to brush the scalp to massage the hair follicles.
Girls invest a lot of time and money on their skin—why not their hair? For beautifully healthy locks, adopt a hair care routine that works for your hair type and lifestyle.