According to evolutionary science, humans lost excess body hair over time, but the hair covering our heads remained as nature's way of protecting and insulating the brain. But quite apart from this rather rudimentary requirement, hair also plays a more capricious role for most of womankind -- its varied colours, styles and ornamentations tell the world who we are.
We are born with a baby fuzz called vellus, which is gradually replaced with adult, or terminal, hair. By about age 14 most of us have a full head of adult hair -- hair that is at its prime, unaffected by the hormonal changes associated with aging and unaltered by the cumulative damage caused by exposure to sun and pollution.
The following tips will help you to protect your tresses from both over-styling and the elements.
Styling: Easy does it
• Since the tip of each hair can be 10 per cent weaker than the root, get your hair trimmed regularly.
• Try not to scrub the scalp when you shampoo, which can literally tear hair strands out of wet follicles. Instead, gently massage the scalp.
• Because excessive heat dries the cuticle, which makes hair vulnerable to breakage and strips it of its shine, blow-dry hair until damp and then let it air-dry whenever possible. Hold the dryer at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) away from your hair.
• All hair loses moisture in sun and heat, but chemically processed hair is more porous, making it even more vulnerable to drying. Long hair, too, is at risk because the ends are old. For the best protection, wear a hat, and make sure to tuck those ends in.
• The sun's rays are as damaging to hair as they are to skin; ultraviolet rays weaken the structure of hair cells. But, unlike our skin, we can't hear our hair crying out for help until it's too late. There are sun-protection products designed specifically for hair, such as Phytologie Secret Professional UV-Aqua Spray. But any styling product that coats the hair shaft (everything from leave-in conditioner to gel) can protect hair from the sun, says Papadatos. Even better, wear that hat.
• Everyday pollutants cling to hair and leave a thin coat of grime that dulls and weighs down hair. Use a clarifying shampoo such as Clinique Exceptionally Clean Clarifying Shampoo once a week to give hair a residue-free fresh start.
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