Taking care of your hair

Hair may be dead, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't care for it. You should wash it regularly. Actually, what you really need to be sure to wash is your scalp. The best way to get your hair and scalp clean is to:

  1. Get it really wet.
  2. Use a small amount of shampoo. A squirt about the size of a quarter is enough.
  3. Massage the shampoo into your scalp. Don't scrub the scalp too hard.
  4. Rinse really well, until you don't see any more bubbles or suds on your head or going down the drain.
  5. Gently dry your hair with a towel.
  6. Comb it out carefully with a wide-tooth comb, especially if it's curly. Don't yank or tug on it, because that can break the hair or pull it out.
  7. Let your hair air dry whenever you can. Hair dryers can be tough on hair.

If your scalp is itchy, dry, and flaky, it could be because you aren't rinsing all of the shampoo out. Or it could be because you have something called dandruff. If you have dandruff, when you scratch your head, the skin flakes off and lands on your clothes. It's really noticeable if you're wearing dark colors. You can use a special shampoo that your parents can buy at the store. There are many to choose from. Talk to your doctor or a skin doctor (dermatologist) to help you decide on the best shampoo for you.

How often you wash your hair depends on what it's like and what you do during the day. If your hair gets oily quickly, it needs to be washed more often. Straight hair can get oily quickly. Very curly hair is not as oily and can be washed less often. If you have very curly, kinky or thick hair, it might be too dry and look frizzy. Using a conditioner after you wash your hair might help, but that doesn't make it healthier. Remember, hair is already dead, but conditioner can make it look better.

All kinds of things can damage hair and make it break off or get too dry. To protect your hair, be careful around:

  • The sun (which is one reason why you should wear a hat when you go outside).
  • Chemicals (such as chlorine) in pools (so you should wash your hair after swimming in a pool).
  • Products and treatments that make hair curly or straight or change its color.
  • Things you use to style your hair, such as curling irons, flat irons and hair dryers (so don't use them too much, especially if your hair seems to be getting drier or breaks easily).

One of the common types of hair damage is split ends. Look really closely at the end of a hair, and you might notice that the end is split apart. Because hair is dead, though, you can't repair split ends. All you can do is cut them off.

If you're worried about your hair or scalp, ask your parents to take you to your doctor or a skin doctor, who also cares for hair.

Next: Losing hair.

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