Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hair Cleaning and Conditioning Hair Cleaning

To combat this appearance of dirty hair, and to remove actual dirt and other contaminants and external substances like sweat, the hair may be washed. Often hair is washed as part of a shower or bathing with a specialized soap called shampoo. Those with damaged or curly hair, or sensitive scalps, may benefit from cleansing with a light conditioner instead. However, this requires that only water-soluble products are applied to the hair and scalp.

Shampoo is helped by warm temperature water, which helps open the cuticle of the hair and release any oils or other substances beneath. Pure water has a pH of 7, and when shampoo has removed the slightly acidic sebum from the hair, the pH on the surface of the scalp is raised. Freshly shampooed hair can feel tangled or rough, and hair which is left to dry after a shampoo only can be excessively dry and coarse. To smooth the hair, conditioner is often used. Conditioners may employ ingredients of an acidic nature to balance the hair and scalp pH. Many modern conditioners also contain plant oils or synthetic ingredients such as plastics to coat the hair shaft and smooth it out. Acidic rinses or chemical conditioners can help with hair de-tangling and manageability, which helps prevent damage.

The sebaceous glands increase or reduce their secretions in order to maintain proper skin protection and pH. When the skin is regularly stripped of its natural sebum, the sebaceous glands respond with an overproduction. People observe that they “must” wash their hair, for example, once every other day, otherwise their hair becomes oily; however, their sebaceous glands have simply adapted to their hygienic cycle. Changes to the hygienic cycle result in changes to sebum secretion.

Modern shampoos and conditioners are not necessary to maintain clean and healthy hair, and indeed, many cultures do not have these products at all. Different methods are available for those people who wish to return to this “natural” hair state, where healthy hair can be maintained with scalp massage, water-only washes, or using cleaning agents very rarely. Natural baseline sebum secretion varies by individual, and returning the scalp to this state takes time. This process may often include using cleaning agents, but is generally geared towards leaving the sebum on the scalp and hair for as long as possible to reacclimatize the scalp to producing less sebum. This process may not be for everyone, as some who try this method never reach a point where they feel their hair can be clean for any extended period of time without washing with conventional shampoo. Using cold water as a final rinse can help close the scales of the cuticle, and can help constrict the openings of the sebaceous glands to help moderate sebum production.

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