Haircare 101: Scalp, Hair and Coloring

Right before the new year, I opted for a shoulder length bob instead of the ponytail I’ve sported for over a decade and resolved to take better care of my hair. However, haircare is something I’ve severely neglected until recently and I don’t know much about it. Coincidentally, I manage to struck up a conversation with someone from Madison Reed (heard great things about their hair coloring products) so I pelted them with questions about everything. This post is a combination of what I learned from Madison Reed and my own experience (focusing on oily scalp and thinning hair).

Healthy hair starts with healthy scalp!

I used to have thick, shiny hair and oily scalp as a teen so I used a harsh shampoo trying to take care of the oil. But then I ended up with even more oily scalp but dry and fragile hair. Instead, what I should have done is to use gentler shampoo to keep my hair healthy, and shampoo more often to keep my scalp clean. Harsh cleansing agents in your shampoo can damage the hair strands (especially if you shower often or have colored hair) as well as strip your scalp of moisture, that’s why sulfate-free options are recommended.
MR1With that said, if you are washing too often due to an oily scalp or product build up instead of dirty hair, it might be better to use a scalp treatment instead. For oily scalp, I found Apple Cider Vinegar rinse to work better than any clarifying shampoo or scalp treatment. Not only does it helps to detangle my hair, it reduces my scalp’s oil production so I can go a few days longer without shampooing. There are also plenty of scalp oils but I find those to be better for dry scalp instead. If you use a lot of products or have a lot of build up, you might want an exfoliating shampoo or scalp exfoliator (my favorite is Aveda Exfoliating Shampoo). However, be cautious when using them on color-treated hair and sensitive scalps since they can be a bit stripping.

How to maintain healthy hair?

In order for healthy hair to grow, you need to have a good diet and take care of your scalp. Once the hair comes out, it is dead protein just like your fingernails. You can trim it but once it is damaged it won’t be able to restore itself the way skin can.
MR5Your hair grows approximately 1/2 inch per month. While trimming doesn’t necessarily make your hair grow faster, it does help to prevent split ends and breakage, which allows you to more easily grow your hair. There’s plenty of hair oil, masks and conditioner to keep your hair from drying and breaking. However, if you have thinning hair that gets greasy easily like mine, I find that using a hair oil a few hours before a shower or conditioning before shampooing keeps it moisturized and shiny without being heavy and greasy.How to care for your hair really depends on the type of hair you have (curly, wavy, straight, thin, thick, etc). While I was checking out the Madison Reed website, I stumbled upon this haircare blog that does a great job of explaining how to take care of different hair types, in different seasons as well as if you are pregnant/aging etc. I only looked at straight hair, which was what I have and it was very informative. I would highly recommend checking it out if you are interested in reading more about hair care.

What to know when coloring your hair

I’ve never colored my hair since it sounds fussy, expensive and damaging. However, it doesn’t have to be, according to experts at Madison Reed. But before you grab that dye or get to the salon, it is important to know about your hair:

  • Virgin hair is hair that has never been colored, bleached or chemically texturized/straightened. It is easier to lighten.  Once your hair has been colored, you can’t use just hair color to go lighter, it requires bleach which can be damaging.  
  • Gray hair has no color pigment left in the hair shaft. This makes it harder to color because we need to slowly re-add all the missing tones back. Making sure you have the right color formula and application process is important for coloring grays.
  • Bleached hair is missing pigment. When bleaching you are removing all natural pigments. You need to slowly add pigment and tones back into bleached hair before making any dramatically darker changes in order to receive desirable results.

If you are looking for low maintenance hair that naturally complements your skin tone (and is less damaging), it’s best to stay within 1-2 levels of your natural hair color. Damaged hair takes on color easily then fades just as quickly. So hair color that causes damage creates a vicious cycle of needing to dye more and more often, with less satisfying results over time. MR4That is why they also suggest going lighter in stages to make sure there’s no long-term damage to your hair. Using gentle products and deep conditioning treatments between coloring keeps the hair nourished with a healthy shine. I tend to use whatever hair samples that came my way, but my friends love It’s a 10 products.

If you do decide to get your hair dyed, there are some things to consider:

  • Do you have a warm or cool skin tone?  Your color should complement your tone.
  • Check the color ingredients if you have had sensitivities to hair color in the past and follow any allergy tests as per the instructions.  
  • Look at lots of photos so you have something concrete in mind.
  • Be open to suggestions at salons, the stylist will have first hand experience maintaining the color and what will look best overall.  

There are also amazing at-home options these days for people who are super comfortable doing DIY hair color completely, or need ways to refresh color and hide their roots between salon visits. One of my beauty lover friend loves Madison Reed root touch up product for it’s easy application and natural look. If you need ideas for what hair color would be appropriate, Madison Reed has a fun simple quiz to help you decide!

All images and all information in the coloring section are courtesy of Madison Reed (thank you! Also thanks to two of my friends who do have beautiful colorful manes for reading this post over to make sure I’m not talking nonsense, lol). So, how do you care for your hair? Have you ever colored your hair or considered it?

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