By Adam Hurly
Maybe it’s genetics; maybe it’s the stress of mortgage payments and work and all that “Dad! Dad! Daaaaaaaaaad!” But whatever the cause, your follicles are starting to recede like a defeated army. Pills, plugs, and topical creams might add density to your thinning crown, but they’re usually a last-ditch effort to stop the very gradual process of hair loss. Whether you’re taking any medications (or having procedures done) to thicken your hair, it’s still important to proactively prevent further loss through smart grooming habits. The same can be said for anyone with a full head of hair. Like that old cowboy uttered in No Country For Old Men: “You can’t stop what’s coming.” But, if you keep these five habits in mind, you can preserve your precious pelt and buy some extra time before the inevitable retreat.
Scrub Your Scalp
It’s logical to think that any intense scalp scrubbing leads to hair loss. After all, if you scratch your nails across your head, you inevitably see a few strands fall to the ground. But, it’s this intense scrubbing motion that is actually keeping your hair follicles strong: In fact, gentle scratching increases the blood flow to the cells on the scalp, which in turn improves circulation and the delivery of nutrients to these cells. This keeps everything energized, fueled, and strong so the hair follicle is fortified — and less likely to fall out.
More Conditioner, Less Shampoo
It’s obviously important to wash your hair and scalp. But, if you’re shampooing every day, you need to cut back. A daily shampoo adds far too much detergent for your hair to handle and more cleaning than it needs. Over-shampooing dries out the hairs (and the follicles). It can make them brittle, thus susceptible to snapping or falling out entirely. So, swap out the daily shampoo for a hydrating, fortifying conditioner, and then use the shampoo every two-to-three days instead. Use shampoo before conditioner, and never together, since the conditioner’s job is nullified if you use it alongside an oil-stripping shampoo. Where shampoo removes excess oil on its deployment (and any good natural oil, at that), condition restores it to a nourished, sturdy state. Translation: Stronger follicles, less hair loss.
Take Colder Showers
You’ll notice a theme here: Keep the follicles clear, keep the hair hydrated, and keep both clean. A steamy shower will compromise the middle rule: keeping things hydrated. Hot, scalding water dries out the scalp, leaving hair parched and sometimes irreparably damaged…or gone completely. Instead of a scorcher, settle on a cooler temp — even a warm one will be fine — to avoid totally flushing the natural oils away from both scalp and hair. This natural oil keeps everything nourished and fortified, and, in turn, prevents hair loss.
Use a Lightweight Styler
Products like gel and wax can really weigh down your hair, and should especially be avoided f you’re already losing your hair. The greater their promise — “All day hold! Mega grip!”— the worse they are for your wear. Your hair’s strength and durability is already compromised, so stick with lighter products, like a texturizing paste or low-hold cream. Paste can go in wet hair for higher hold (perfect for combed-over business pomp) or dry hair for an artfully disheveled finish. Cream can tame flyaways or give direction with barely-there hold for medium and longer styles.
Wear a Hat (But Wear It Loosely)
Chances are you’re pretty well-versed in the how UV rays can mutate the cells in your skin and leave you with a nasty burn. The result is peeling, flaking, itching, and irreparable cell damage. Imagine this on your scalp, especially if the hair is thinning out to appoint where your scalp has exposure to the sun. Don’t risk any burn to the scalp, because its health is directly connected to that of your hairs. So, keep a hat on when you go outside, but wear it forwards, and make sure the hairs are falling in their natural direction when you put it on. You don’t want to pull them against the grain, which might pluck them right from their precious plots. So, pick a loose fitting (but still snug) hat, and spare yourself any strain.