Jun 11, 2015

Is dry shampoo bad for your hair?

If you have oily hair, chances are you're frustrated with how often it needs to be washed in order to keep it looking and feeling great. Time is precious, and you want to spend it doing the things you actually want to do, and with the people you love. For this reason, dry shampoo is one of the best ways to keep your hair clean between actual shampooing, but is dry shampoo bad for your hair?

What is dry shampoo?

Dry shampoo is a powder-based product that is designed to coat hair and absorb oil and dirt. This allows you to keep your hair looking clean between washes by trapping the oil and other impurities that would otherwise affect the appearance and texture of your hair.

In most cases, a form of starch is used as the absorbent powder. In some cases, talcum powder may be used instead. This powder is able to be sprayed over your hair like hairspray due to the inclusion of propellants like butane, making it simple to apply and spread around.

Dry shampoo vs regular shampoo

A regular shampoo works in a similar way to a dry shampoo in that oil and dirt is absorbed by the product. The main difference however is that regular shampoo is rinsed out of your hair with plenty of water to remove both the product and the impurities it has emulsified.

Dry shampoo can be brushed out of your hair after use to remove some of the oil that has bound to the powder, but much of it will remain in your hair, making it a temporary measure that can extend the time you can go between washes without your hair looking and feeling oily.

It's not an alternative to normal shampooing, but rather, a way to go longer before you need to expend the time again to wash, dry, and style your hair. Consider it both a product that extends your shampoo results, as well as an emergency measure when you need your hair to look good but don't have the time to properly wash it.

Ingredients in dry shampoo

The fact that dry shampoo remains in contact with the scalp is what prompts many people to ask the question: is dry shampoo bad for your hair? It is perfectly sensible to consider this when a product will be in constant contact with your skin as certain chemicals are actually able to be absorbed into systemic circulation through skin contact, meaning they absorb into your bloodstream.

The chemicals used in dry shampoo are not overly dissimilar to hairspray and deodorant in that alcohol and propellants are the main carrier ingredients used. These kinds of chemicals are hydrocarbons that are a gas at room temperature, but liquid when compressed under pressure within a container.

When dry shampoo is sprayed, these ingredients are released into a lower pressure environment, causing them to quickly transition back into gas. The powder is distributed evenly, but the chemicals used to achieve this vaporize and don't remain in contact with your skin afterwards.

As for the ingredients in dry shampoo that do remain in contact with your skin, this is a combination of starch or talcum powder, and fragrance; none of which have any overly negative effect on your body. Pesticide use during the production of  grain-based starches is the main issue present where a natural starch is used, such as that derived from wheat, corn, or rice, but this can be avoided through the use of an organic dry shampoo if you're sensitive to pesticides or simply want to avoid them. 

Other potential problems

The ingredients used in dry shampoo are very safe, but there can be other reasons why it's bad for your hair in some situations. The main issues with the use of a dry shampoo are using it too often or for too long, and using too much of the actual product.

Dry shampoo contains alcohol in most cases, and whilst this evaporates off within seconds, it does strip water out of your hair when this happens. The intended effect of dry shampoo is to strip oil off the surface of your hair or bind to it to prevent it from affecting your hair, but the alcohol can have a secondary effect of leaching the moisture out from within your hair.

This moisture inside the hair shaft is important to your hair's condition and strength, and the loss of it is partly behind the frizz and dryness that is seen in damaged hair when the surface of the hair is damaged and moisture can't be maintained properly where it is meant to be. Hair that is suffering from internal dryness can be brittle and its elasticity and strength suffers as a result.

However, this drying effect requires the use of a lot of product, making dry shampoo perfectly safe to use as long as it's not used too often or too liberally. For the best results, only apply as much as needed to make your hair presentable and don't try to drag this out for days on end. Use the product more as a stop-gap solution and your hair will remain healthy and strong.

Natural hair care tip: Use organic corn starch as a dry shampoo. Free of all chemicals and pesticides, it can be used in an oily hair emergency to cut down on enough oil to get through another day when you don't have time to wash your hair.

Simply sift, then apply powder by hand, focusing on root to mid-lengths where oil is most concentrated. Massage it through with a dry towel, brush and then comb any excess out so that the powder can't be felt or seen.

More information
  • Starting a hair care regime - Want to know which products to use for healthy hair, and how often to use each product? Discover the right treatments for hair problems or repair and start a care routine today...
  • How to get healthy hair - Find out how to get healthier hair and treat the most common hair conditions like dryness, frizz, and snapping...
  • How to restore bleached hair - Weak hair from dyeing or bleaching? Find out how to repair it back to good condition...

Is dry shampoo bad for your hair? Have you had problems with products like this? Leave a comment to share your experience...

Subscribe to email updates: Discover how to get professional hair at home!

Enter your email address:

How to strengthen hair

Dyed hair can be damaged, weakening it and resulting in it being more prone to breakages and a rough and frizzy texture. This can have a drastic effect on your hair style and even lead to color fading more rapidly. It is possible to restore your hair to close to its former condition most of the time however, and you can discover how to strengthen hair with the right products and care.

What causes damage?

In order to understand how to strengthen hair, it is important to understand what is actually happening to your hair when it becomes damaged.

Hair is made out of a protein called keratin, and it is this protein that gives your hair its structure, strength, and texture. Proteins like keratin are themselves comprised of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are the building blocks for all protein and it is the cysteine amino acid in your hair that provides much of its strength through disulfide bonding.

Chemical treatments and heat styling have the unwanted effect of damaging these bonds by breaking down cysteine in your hair. In the case of dye and bleach, it is the oxidation that lightens hair and develops dye which attacks and denatures cysteine. This means that whenever you use bleach or permanent dye, there will always be the side effect of damage occurring simultaneously with the effects you do want.

Other treatments like relaxers and perms damage your hair and reduce its strength in a slightly different way. These products intentionally break and reset bonds to change the texture of your hair because the same disulfide bonds that give your hair its strength also play a significant role in causing it to be straight, wavy, or curly.

Reversing damage to strengthen hair

With an understanding of how damage to your hair occurs, you can see that it is the protein in your hair that is affected. This means that in order to effectively strengthen hair, you need to repair this damaged protein.

This happens over time to some extent as nutrients in the form of natural oil are constantly being produced by your scalp to benefit your hair. In hair that is only slightly damaged, letting it rest can be adequate treatment. For hair that is showing signs of more serious damage and especially breakage, no amount of rest is going to resolve the condition. In this situation, you will need to use a protein treatment.

Protein treatments contain protein in the form of keratin, hydrolyzed proteins, and individual amino acids. These ingredients have a direct effect on the strength of your hair as they will bond to damaged areas of the hair shaft, reinforcing it in the short term, and repairing it over the long term. As such, they are the best products to use to strengthen hair.

Hair strengthening regime

Protein treatments are effective products and can drastically change the condition of your hair by improving its strength and reducing breakages and split ends, but to do this they need to be used for a few weeks at least in order to have an optimal effect. Applying a treatment once will strengthen your hair, but a care regime is needed over a longer period to properly strengthen and repair damaged hair.

Step 1 - Initial treatment (1 - 2 weeks)

The first stage of a hair strengthening regime will require you to use your treatment a few times a week when washing your hair to initiate the repair. This step is kind of like a loading phase where you will be applying the product more regularly in order to quickly build up strength and prevent any further breakages.

If your hair isn't very damaged and breakage is fairly minimal, this step can be skipped however, as it is most important for those who have very damaged and fragile hair. For less serious conditions, commence the regime at step 2 instead.

To treat very weak hair, start using a protein treatment 2 - 3 times a week. Your treatment should be applied after shampooing your hair and left for about 5 minutes depending on brand. In an emergency, apply the treatment twice, up to 3 times in the first week to quickly arrest breakage in hair that has been heavily over-processed with bleach or strong dyes.

Step 2 - Continuing treatment (2- 4 weeks)

After the initial repair period, protein treatments should be cut back to once a week. This is because too much protein can cause the hair to become more brittle and won't benefit further strengthening at this point.

This step can be continued for up to 4 weeks or longer if necessary. The best way to tell when it is time to move to the next step is by assessing the strength and appearance of your hair. If it's still not exactly where you want it to be, continue with this phase of the regime until it is.

In cases where hair is very damaged though, it is not always possible to get it as strong as you hope. Protein treatments will always improve your hair and reverse much of the damage, but sometimes results will stall at some point and you will need to make do with that until your hair grows out before you can get back to coloring it without risk again.

Step 3 - Maintenance

Protein treatments have both a temporary and lasting effect on your hair. Ingredients like ceramide and arginine fortify weak areas in the short term, whilst other ingredients repair the damaged protein to strengthen hair over the long term.

For this reason, it can be a good idea to continue using a protein treatment once a month or so as necessary to maintain strength; especially if you continue to keep coloring it. This ensures that the more temporary benefits are replenished and continues to improve repair over time.

More information:
  • How to get healthier hair - Want healthier hair? Find out how to treat the most common hair conditions like dryness, frizz, damage, and breakage for healthy and strong hair...
  • Best protein treatments to strengthen hair - Don't know which protein treatment to use when planning how to strengthen hair? Here are some of the best protein treatments for stressed hair...
  • Remedies for frizzy hair - Frizz getting you down? Discover the best remedies for smoothing unruly hair...
Have a question about how to strengthen hair, or need help repairing damage and treating other hair conditions? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

Subscribe to email updates: Discover how to get professional hair at home!

Enter your email address:

Jun 9, 2015

Choosing the best hair color to cover gray

Gray hair is notoriously difficult to dye. It tends to be resistant to coloring, doesn't take color the same way that pigmented hair does, and fades quickly. There is a good reason why this is the case, and knowing what makes gray hair color different to pigmented hair will allow you to choose the best hair color to cover gray and dye your hair any color you want.

How is gray hair different?

Hair gets its natural color from a pigment called melanin which is produced by specialized cells in each hair follicle. Gray hair is different from colored hair as it lacks this pigment. This is because the melanin fails to be produced, and the cause can be due to aging, illness, medications, or even stress. Largely however, it is determined by genetics and you can't prevent your hair from eventually graying.

This lack of melanin results in clear hair which has no color. The amount of this clear hair is what determines whether your hair looks gray or fully white as the larger a percentage of gray hair you have, the whiter your overall color will look. The more gray you have, the more difficult it tends to be to color it properly as well.

There are a few reasons why this is the case. Gray hair is coarser and thus more resistant to coloring. Whatever color you try to add to it, less will usually penetrate into gray hair compared to the rest of your hair, and it fades quicker as well.

The most important reason why it won't color properly however, is because of the lack of pigment in gray hair, and this is key to deciding on the best hair color to cover gray.

Filling hair

If you've ever lightened your hair from a darker color to a much lighter shade, you will have noticed the underlying pigment is revealed during lightening. This means that a dark brown color for example, will transition from its original brown color to a deep red, and then gradually to a brighter red, to orange, to gold, and finally to increasingly paler shades of yellow.

This underlying pigment is the base tone in your hair and what gives it the foundation and depth it needs to look the color it does. The actual color you see is a combination of that rich base tone and the cool pigment on the surface of the color that gives it a realistic hair color.

When you decide to go from a light color to a darker color, the opposite occurs and you must replace this missing base tone in order to achieve the new color as this foundation is missing. This is exactly what happens with gray hair and why it can be so frustrating to color. If the base tone isn't replaced properly in gray hair it can grab onto certain tones and produce a strange color result, or fade rapidly after coloring.

Replacing this missing base tone is achieved through a process called filling, or 'pre-pigmentation', and this technique is extensively used when dyeing blonde hair to a new brown color. It is just as useful when dyeing gray hair though and the same technique can be used to produce a better color result here.

How to fill hair

You can fill your hair a few different ways, but the two most common and easiest methods are either to use a demi-permanent dye or a protein filler.

Protein fillers are less diverse but easier and quicker to use as they are applied, allowed to absorb, and the desired color can merely be applied on top of this. They are also beneficial where your hair is porous or damaged as the protein bonds to porous and weakened areas to allow for a more even result and less fading.

Demi-permanent dye, on the other hand, must be used separately to the desired color by applying and allowing to develop and then rinsing prior to dyeing with a permanent dye to finish the color. However, given the abundance of shades available, it is easier to match the depth and color needed for the right base tone of any color you want.

As a rule, fill with the color that is the base tone for the shade you want. When using protein filler, use a filler designed for blonde or brown hair for the particular result you want, as well as the right color as if the filler is too dark, the base tone will persist into the final color. For demi-permanent color however, use the base tone color for your desired color, at 1 - 2 levels lighter as the filler.

Level Base tone
1. Black Red
2. Off-black / darkest brown Red
3. Dark brown Red-orange
4. Medium brown Orange-red
5. Light brown Orange
6. Dark blonde Gold-orange
7. Medium blonde Gold
8. Light blonde Yellow
9. Very light blonde Light yellow
10. Lightest blonde Pale yellow

Using a natural/neutral tone dye

Another way to deal with the missing base tone is to use a natural or neutral toned dye. Both of these terms generally mean the same thing and shades in a natural tone contain all three primary colors rather than being dominant in one particular tone.

What this balance of color means is that the dye is better able to darken pale hair as it is adding balanced color to hair that contains no color. If you were to apply a red dye for example, and your hair is roughly 30 percent gray, what happens is that your natural color will dye properly and take on a rich, deep red color. Your gray hair on the other hand, takes on a bright red color, but does not darken much.

To get around this problem, it is very simple to either just apply a natural tone, or to use a natural tone mixed half and half with the tone you actually want. Natural toned dyes are the best hair color to cover gray because of their balance of tones and this will give you maximum gray coverage beyond what even the best gray hair dyes in other shades are able to offer.

Filling vs natural dye

Knowing the benefits of both filling and the use of a natural tone dye begs the question of whether the two techniques are interchangeable. They're not though. Filling will generally always be superior because it provides a better approximation of the missing base tone and works properly in most situations.

Dyeing with a natural dye is better than dyeing with any other dye, but the darker the color you want to go, and the more gray hair you have, the better it begins to be to fill prior to dyeing rather than use a dye alone

More information:
  • How to color hair - More information about dyeing your hair and using hair dye...
  • How to choose hair color - Find out how to match your color to your features and choose a shade that will look good...
  • Using salon hair dye - Salon dye has many benefits over box dye. Find out how to prepare and apply professional hair dye...

Do you have a question about the best hair color to cover gray, or need help dyeing your own gray hair? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

Subscribe to email updates: Discover how to get professional hair at home!

Enter your email address:

Jun 8, 2015

Hair care routine for healthy hair

A hair care routine is one of the best ways to keep your hair healthy and beautiful. Not only does a routine give you a clear idea of what treatments you should be using, and how often, but it adds structure to your hair care and allows you to keep to a schedule that will repair damage, reduce frizz, and even help you keep a new hair color vibrant for longer.

Ingredients to a hair care routine

To keep your hair healthier and looking great, there are a few specific products that can be used every week. For certain conditions or problems depending on your situation, this basic routine can then be improved by adding in other products and treatments that suit your own needs.

One of the most important products that your entire hair care revolves around is shampoo of course, and this product is always at the center of any hair care routine. Everyone needs to wash their hair, and this is best done with the right shampoo for your own needs.

Other products and treatments that can form part of an effective hair care routine include:
  • Conditioner
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Moisturizing treatments
  • Protein treatments
  • Hair serums
  • Gloss
  • Oils and natural treatments


Shampoo is the foundation of any good hair care routine because it is used every week. This means that choosing the right shampoo is very important for the overall health and appearance of your hair.

There are a lot of factors to consider when you choose a shampoo, but the oiliness of your hair is the most important factor. If you tend to suffer from dry hair and find that shampoo leaves your hair too dry even after using a conditioner, you're either washing your hair too often or using a shampoo that is too drying.

Dry hair is best washed every few days to avoid exacerbating the problem and to allow natural oils to replenish during the days where it is not washed. Depending on just how dry your hair is, you may only need to wash it every two days, or even once every three days.

The best way to judge this is to look at the appearance of your hair. Does it look oily in between washes? Does it feel oily? If this is the case, washing more often, using a stronger shampoo, or using less conditioning products will adjust for this and keep your hair in better condition. If the opposite is true, you may want to consider washing your hair less, using a leave-in conditioner, or using a weaker shampoo.

Very oily hair on the other hand, tends to make your hair look flat, full, and dirty and this can be problematic in a hair care routine. Sometimes this can be the result of a hormone problem, but most of the time it is simply natural as a result of your own individual genetics.

When your hair is oily like this, the best shampoo to use is a stronger product like a clarifying shampoo. Avoid moisturizing shampoos and other products that are designed for dry hair and wash your hair more often to keep it feeling and looking its best.


Conditioner is another important part of any hair care routine, and in most cases you should be applying it every time you wash your hair, after shampooing. The purpose of conditioner is to add moisture back into your hair after shampoo strips it out. Unlike natural oil though, this moisture makes hair feel smoother and keeps it from drying out without weighing it down or causing it to clump together.

Conditioner also detangles, corrects the pH after shampooing for smoother and stronger hair, helps relieve frizz, and prevents split ends. It is absolutely important that you use it after shampooing if you have dry hair, and it should only be avoided in the worst cases of oily hair where all additional moisture should be avoided.

Leave-in conditioners and conditioning treatments

Leave-in conditioner and conditioning treatments are two of the best products to use following chemical treatments like dyeing or bleaching. Leave-in conditioner is applied to towel-dried hair and a conditioning treatment is used in place of your regular conditioner for heavier treatment of dry or dyed hair.

If you have just dyed your hair, using these products in the week following the process can speed up your hair's recovery and relieve the problems like dryness and frizz that these chemical treatments cause. After this period, the products can be used on an as-needed basis.

For dry hair however, a leave-in conditioner can be used every time you wash your hair if necessary, and a treatment can be applied anywhere from once a week to every few days or even every time you wash your hair in place of a regular conditioner to better care for hair that is prone to dryness.

Protein treatments

Protein treatments are the absolute best repair treatment available because they repair the damaged protein that results in damaged hair. Used appropriately, these products repair hair, strengthen it, improve elasticity, and even prevent dryness and other problems that can be a result of damage.

If you don't have damaged hair however, a protein treatment isn't going to help improve the condition of your hair or make it look or feel healthier. It will only work on damaged hair and thus should only be part of your hair care routine if your hair has been dyed, bleached, permed, relaxed, or you use heat styling tools very often. Untreated hair will gain more benefit from a conditioning treatment.

To use these treatments, apply once a week after shampooing your hair and before conditioning. The product is left in for about 5 minutes depending on brand, at which point it will absorb into the hair shaft and target weak areas of your hair. After this it can be rinsed and followed up with conditioner.

If your hair is very damaged, using a protein treatment once a week may not be enough at first. In this case, you'll get quicker results by using it 2 - 3 times a week for the first two weeks until damage begins to be reversed. Following this, the treatment should be cut back to once a week. As your hair is repaired, protein treatments can be continued anywhere from once a week to once every few weeks to maintain strength and condition.

Hair serums

Hair serums are silicone based and act like a barrier. For this reason, they lock moisture into your hair following the use of conditioning products and make it feel smooth. They also reduce frizz, allow for better straightening and smoother curls when styling, and protect your hair from the effects of humidity.

Serums are an optional product for use in any hair care routine, but are a great addition where frizz and dryness is a problem, and where heated styling tools are used as they improve the results of styling whilst protecting from heat damage.

If you choose to use a hair serum, they can be applied in a few different ways, including to damp hair prior to blow drying, to dry hair before styling, or to dry hair after styling. The way you apply one of these products depends on the results you want.

To treat dryness, use in combination with a leave-in conditioner on damp hair before blow drying. The hair serum will lock in the conditioner and reduce frizz during blow drying. To improve styling however, apply the serum to dry hair right before the use of a straightener or curling rod. For general smoothing, shine, and protection against humidity, apply to dry hair after styling.

Hair serums can be used as often as several times a day in the case of a light product and very dry hair, but in most cases they are best used only as often as you wash or style your hair.

Hair gloss

Hair gloss is a temporary treatment that can be added to a hair care routine to reduce color fading and keep your hair color looking shiny and vibrant. These treatments generally last up to 12 washes depending on brand and product and the effect will gradually fade with each shampoo.

As these treatments are temporary and don't cause damage, they can be used as often as necessary, and the best way to integrate them into your hair care routine is to apply once a month. It is best to apply the treatment after any dyeing has been completed as chemical treatments will strip the product out, and the product will work best to reduce fading and enhance the appearance of your hair color when that color is fresh.

Oils and natural treatments

Natural treatments like oils can be substituted for most of the products listed here. Conditioning products can be placed with oils like olive oil or argan oil, vinegar can help seal porous and rough feeling hair, and an egg white mask can be used as a protein treatment.

If you prefer to use natural treatments for whatever reason, these alternatives should be used in much the same way as conventional treatments, with a few differences. Oils are a slight exception because the amount you use needs to be very small as they are pure products and very heavy. Conditioner is an emulsion of oil and other emollients in water, whereas products like olive oil are pure oil.

Using natural oils for hair - Find out how to properly use and apply oil to your hair to prevent and treat dryness, reduce frizz, and improve the appearance of your hair naturally...

There is also only so much difference that natural protein treatments can make in your hair. Packaged protein treatments generally contain specific forms of protein, as well as individual amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. These compounds are much more effective at patching up damaged areas in the keratin protein of your hair.

Product Usage
Shampoo Whenever hair is oily
Conditioner Every wash unless hair is very oily
Leave-in conditioner Every wash - once a week or less
Hair serum After washing or before styling
Gloss Once a month
Conditioning treatment Once a week or after every wash in place of conditioner for very dry hair
Protein treatment 1 -3 times a week for very damaged hair. Once a week - once every few weeks for damaged hair or maintenance.

More information: 

Do you have a question about how to create or use a hair care routine that suits your own needs? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

Subscribe to email updates: Discover how to get professional hair at home!

Enter your email address: