Photographs: L'Oreal ad campaign
With the rainy season upon us, Dr Parul Kolhe discusses monsoon haircare and recommends products available in the Indian market to cope with frizzy, dull, lifeless manes.
Every change of season throws up a new challenge for the hair and we need to change haircare products accordingly. The warm and humid monsoon months make hair maintenance a challenge, but with the right care your mane can look lustrous and glam even in this 'bad-hair' weather.
Boils and dandruff
Hair itself, being dead tissue, is immune to infections -- but the scalp it grows out from is not! The presence of dense hair allows heat and moisture to get trapped next to the scalp, which encourages infections in the monsoons.
Whereas children mostly suffer from fungal infections, the scalps of healthy adults secrete protective substances that makes them resistant to fungi. But grown-ups tend to develop painful boils (due to bacterial infections) or seborrhea, commonly known as dandruff.
Shampoos containing ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione or ciclopirox olamine are effective against dandruff and fungus, although persistent infections do need oral antifungals as well. Medical shampoos like Scalpe (Rs 105) or 8X (Rs 155) or KZ Lotion (Rs 150) are far superior to commercial antidandruff shampoos in efficacy. However, the dryness caused by them is more, so conditioner is a must after these shampoos.
Boils with pus in them need antibiotics to be prescribed by a dermatologist. To avoid these infections it is most important to keep hair dry. The longer it remains wet, the better chances for micro-organisms to grow -- so it is advisable to quick dry the roots and scalp at least with a hair dryer every time you shampoo. The shaft/ body of the hair can be left to dry slowly.
Dr Parul S Kolhe is an MBBS and holds a DDV & DNB in dermatology.
Photographs: Valerie Macon/Getty Images
Lice infestations are also unfortunately very common during this season. Lice can jump from an infected scalp to a healthy one over 60 cms away, so one can catch this infestation from others very easily, simply being in overcrowded buses or trains, for example. Lice multiply rapidly in damp conditions so again, keeping the scalp dry is of paramount importance.
The treatment is to use a one per cent Permethrin solution in a shampoo base (eg Perlice, Rs 70), but it's necessary to repeat the application after a week to kill larvae that hatch from eggs left on the scalp by adult lice.
Photographs: Cover of InStyle Magazine, December 2009
Since hair is a complex protein, it behaves like a nylon fibre -- it tends to scrunch up when exposed to moisture. The cuticle or outer covering becomes rough and this makes hair look frizzy and become difficult to comb or set smoothly. The problem is aggravated if your hair is chemically treated by colouring , perming or rebonding.
It's necessary to use smoothening shampoos and conditioners. L'Oreal has the best products available in India for this purpose -- you can identify your hair type and opt for those that match up. Several other foreign brands are also available nowadays in select stores and salons, like Schwarzkopf or TiGi (Toni & Guy), which are excellent.
Controlling unruly locks
Photographs: Courtesy Perfect Relations
For control of unruly locks, a daily serum is also advised. Anti-frizz serums are available aplenty in the hair care section of all malls and departmental stores. A few ml needs to be applied daily on the lower half of the hair (excluding the scalp). These smoothen the rough cuticle and also neutralise the electric charge that builds up on hair due to humidity, so hair doesn't frizz, detangles easily and doesn't stick out unmanageably.
L'Oreal scores again with their Smooth Intense Instant Smoothing Serum (Rs 240) for doing the job without a trace of stickiness, Wella High Hair Gloss Serum (Rs 475) and Garnier Fructis Long & Strong Serum (Rs 199) are a close second, the latter at a more pocket-friendly price.
If nothing is at hand , you can use a few drops of baby oil mixed with a few ml of water and pat it into your locks.
Post washing routine
Photographs: Garnier ad campaign
Trim hair regularly, as weak shafts tend to develop split ends. Postpone permanent hair treatments like straightening till after the monsoons. Never detangle your hair when it's wet, as you'll end up dislodging the weaker roots and losing hair. Towel-dry gently, then blowdry for a few minutes till damp, detangle with a wide-toothed comb, then work in your serum or styling product and gently finish drying on low heat till set.
Photographs: L'Oreal ad campaign
As always, eat healthy for a good, healthy growth. Protein is the single most important nutrient for hair growth. Have plenty of sprouts, channa, soyabean, dals, egg-whites, chicken and fish. Essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements add shine to hair. You can eat flaxseed or sunflower seeds or ask your doctor for an EFA supplement.
With due care, your crowning glory can continue to be your most prised beauty asset -- even during the monsoons.