1. Start at the scalp
“Flaking, itchiness and redness could be signs that your scalp is in a state of disrepair,” says Jensen Yeung, Medical Director of Dermatology at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. You can usually treat dandruff with an over-the-counter shampoo. But other circumstances can also cause flaking, including sensitivity to hair products or skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, says Dr.Yeung. So if the shampoo doesn’t work you may need a prescription for a topical steroid or anti-fungal product. “There’s no cure for dandruff: You can treat your current episode, but it won’t prevent further flaking,” says Dr. Yeung. To keep it under control, he recommends adding an over-the-counter dandruff product to your hair-care routine.
2. Assess the damage
“You need to analyze your hair,” says Alain Larivée, Canadian Creative Consultant for John Frieda. Start with an elasticity test by pulling on an individual hair: “If it breaks immediately, that’s an indication that your hair is damaged.” says Larivée. He also recommends examining its appearance and texture — unhealthy hair looks flat and drab.
3. Get a quick fix
Choose products that are formulated for your hair type. Naturally curly hair tends to be dry, says Susan Boccia, national trainer with Schwarzkopf Professional in Toronto, so it should be treated with moisturizing products. If you have fine hair, look for ingredients that add volume and strengthen without weighing hair down, such as bamboo extract. Product build-up is more common when you have thick hair, says Larivée, so use a clarifying shampoo weekly, as well as a moisture-rich serum. For a colour-treated coif, pick products with colour stabilizers to help seal the cuticle shut and prevent fading.
4. Treat yourself
To revive your hair, try a conditioning treatment. “Just like shampoo, these products are designed to target each hair challenge,” explains Boccia. Dry, frizzy, uncontrollable hair needs a moisturizing mask, while damaged, colour-treated or chemically-processed locks benefit from repairing and strengthening formulas. To avoid weighing down fine hair, Boccia says, “Treat the mid-length and ends, avoiding the scalp.”
5. Avoid the heat
If you can’t live without your curling iron, blow-dryer or flat iron, Boccia says a thermal-protection product is a must. “Hot tools can damage the hair’s structure, so take a break from heat styling every once in a while,” she recommends. As the weather gets warmer, let your hair air dry and go natural. “If your hair is long, tie it in a braid. If you have a short cut, style with sculpting products,” says Larivée.