Beauty And The Bath

Get Good Hair

Get good hair days everyday, try these tips to help you enjoy hair with more volume, luster, and shine.

Have Good Hair Days - Characteristics of Great-Looking Hair

Despite the changeable trends that make one color or one type of cut the popular favorite of the day, great-looking hair has always come in an endless variety of shades, styles, and textures.

Sadly enough, the two characteristics to get good hair that women seem to obsess over the most—are namely, color and curl—are also among the hardest to alter because they are inherited traits.

Our own view is that you should see what magic you can work with your hair's natural color and texture to get good hair before you resort to processes such as dyeing, waving, or straightening.

All of these may contain harsh chemical treatments that not only undermine hair health but also require constant upkeep (if you do it yourself) or expense (if your hairdresser or stylist does it for you).

We will have more to say on the subject of chemical treatments later, but for now, let's examine the characteristics to get good hair that can be improved through intelligent yet routine care.

By our count, there are four such characteristics: volume, lustre, length, and softness. Get these out, and you'll be well on your way to get good hair and enjoy a succession of good hair days.

1. Get Good Hair With Volume

The impression of hair volume—or fullness—is created by the thickness, not the total number, of individual hair strands you possess.

The way this works in practice seems to defy common sense: Those of us with fewer hairs typically tend to enjoy a fuller look because the individual strands are thicker; and those of us with more hairs often have to cope with a sparser look because the individual strands are thinner.

So in this particular case, you could accurately say that "less is more," at least in terms of how full your hair appears.

Since we possess all the hair follicles we will ever own at birth, the only way to achieve a fuller look is to plump up individual strands artificially so that they appear thicker than they really are.

And though the diameter of a hair shaft cannot be permanently enlarged, certain hair care products do cause it to swell temporarily.

These include protein-rich shampoos, protein-rich conditioners, volumizers, and hair dyes, all of which not only bind chemically to the exterior of the shaft and thus fatten it.

Maureen Mccormick Long Layered HairstyleThey also saturate the shaft internally for a short-term plumping effect.

Because body-building hair care products are generally effective at enhancing fullness, it's tempting to race straight to the drugstore to pick up something that you hope will "pump up the volume."

A quick cure is always so appealing!

However, a trade-off is involved: What you gain in fullness by using these products can often be more than offset by what you lose in terms of lustre, length, and softness, as we'll see momentarily.

Here's why: Even the healthiest head of hair is composed of non-living material, and so lacks the recuperative powers of the skin, which receives a constant flow of nutrients, water, and oxygen by way of the blood stream.

Your hair, then, is extraordinarily sensitive to—and easily damaged by—the chemicals that come in contact with it. As a result, you'll want to exercise both caution and moderation in choosing the number and types of products you use on a regular basis.

2. Get Good Hair With Lustre

Maureen Mccormick Soft Curly HairstyleLustre, or shine, describes the glossy, vibrant appearance of healthy, undamaged hair.

The key word in the previous sentence is "undamaged."

In healthy hair, the cuticle covering that protects the cortex presents a smooth, even surface of interlocking, transparent cells.

Such a surface is ideal for reflecting light, and thus produces the attractive "lustre" or "radiance" that shampoo and conditioner manufacturers would like you to believe occurs solely from using their products.

Natural oils on the hair shaft also promote lustre by filling in minuscule cracks, chips, and other irregularities on the surface of the cuticle.

The cells of stressed or damaged hair shafts, on the other hand, form a jagged, uneven surface.

This type of surface tends to swallow up light rather than reflect it, resulting in hair that lacks lustre and thus appears dull and lifeless.

The built-up residue from sprays, setting lotions, mousses, gels, dyes, and other hair-care products can also diminish shine by attracting tiny flecks of dust, dirt, grit, and grime, which attach themselves to the cuticle and thereby exaggerate existing surface irregularities.

While conditioners, low pH shampoos, and pH-balanced shampoos can all help to restore your hair's lustre by filling in the cracks and crevices of damaged hair shafts, it's important to note that the improvement is temporary and strictly cosmetic.

Here again, keep in mind that hair does not function like live tissue. Once a shaft has become damaged, it's damaged for keeps—or at least until it has been shed and replaced by a plump, healthy new hair from the same follicle.

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Updated February 22, 2012

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