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Hair Care FAQs

Some common questions about hair care answered

Author: Mickhael Cannon November 23 2006


Some hair facts:

  • Human hair grows about 6 inches per year.
  • Hair grows faster in summer than in winter.
  • It is estimated that 75% of American women color their hair.
  • The only cure for split ends is a trim.
  • Blondes typically have the most hair.

Q. Can I dye my hair blonde for a day?

A. Not exactly... the term "dye" causes a lot of confusion, but dye generally means making the hair darker. To make the hair lighter you must use a special bleach. Hair bleaching is permanent and cannot be rinsed away. It can be dyed back to it's original color however, but the bleach does damage to the hair. In extreme cases, where the hair was dark brown or black and is bleached to blonde, the hair becomes very thin and resembles the texture of cotton. You can lighten hair temporarily by using theatrical hairsprays. These come in every color of the rainbow including white, grey and blonde. These color sprays actually sit on the outside of the hair strand, and can be shampooed completely out after brushing the hair.

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Q. When buying Professional hair products, are there different ones for men and women?

A. There is no practical difference in men's or women's hair. What works on men's hair works equally well on women's and vice versa. Products that are marketed specifically for one sex or the other usually differ in the fragrances they add.

Q. What is the difference between permanent and semipermanent haircolor

A. Semipermanent haircolors do not damage the hair and last from 4-6 weeks. They gradually fade out until the hair is the same shade it started from. These haircolors are deposit only, that is, they may temporarily darken but wont lighten the color of your hair. Since they do not damage the hair, you may reapply them as often as needed. The only downside is their limited ability to cover gray hair.

Permanent haircolor permanently changes the haircolor. Your own haircolor must grow out to fully remove this process. It can be reapplied as substantial outgrowth of original color becomes noticeable. However, each application damages the hair further, so it is preferable to apply the color only to the new hair growth. Permanent colors can either lighten or darken the original shade. They also cover gray hair extremely well. The downside is that you must grow the hair out and trim it off to remove it. It can sometimes be dyed back to match the original color although it is extremely difficult to match the shade exactly. This is when a professional colorist really earns their money!

Q. Do Perms damage your hair?

A. Yes. But this is usually considered desirable damage. Perms are used to add curl and body to straight hair types. The hair is wrapped around perm rods, broken down chemically, and then chemically reassembled. The result is a curly pattern to the individual hairs and an increase in volume and body. Perm damage can cause the hair to be brittle, and dull. The damage can often be minimized by conditioners and reconstructors.

Q. My hair is falling out in one spot on head! What should I do?

A. Always check with your doctor whenever you notice something unusual such as this. Usually, there is no cause for alarm. When hair falls out of circular areas on the head, it is normally a condition known as alopecia areata. The bald spots can be from the size of a dime to the size of a half dollar. There is no known cause or cure. Some researchers feel that stress may aggravate or cause the condition. The good news is that it is almost always temporary. and the hair will eventually grow back in.

Q. I am tired of my curly perm, can I get my straight hair back?

A. If you simply want a looser curl, apply a "hot oil" treatment. This can be done as often as needed. If this doesn't relax the curl sufficiently, a perm may be reversed by applying another perm. Instead of the hair being wrapped around perm rods, it is gently combed straight while the chemicals are applied.. After processing, the hair is neutralized in the straight position.

When straightening out hair with a permanent wave, you will not get bone straight hair. The curl, however can be reduced. Buy a perm for your hair type (resistant, color treated, bleached etc.) Be sure to read your perm directions before applying. Shampoo hair and towel dry. Apply the solution to the hair. Comb through, smoothing the hair out as straight as possible, do not comb it continually, just sit quietly without much movement until the suggested time has past. Rinse and towel dry, and apply the neutralizer with one combing and rinse after 5 minutes. Do not use conditioners until 2 weeks afterwards. You can use Phinish by KMS. It will not undo all your work and can help condition and remove perm odor.

The disadvantage of this process is additional damage to the hair strand. Permed hair may be porous and dry. The damage may be further minimized by treating the hair with conditioners and reconstructors (after two weeks.) You may need a trim on the ends if for nothing else than unevenness from the straightening. Warning! Do NOT try to straighten a perm by using a chemical straightener! These products may contain lye and will melt your hair! Chemical straighteners are designed for natural curly hair (corkscrew pattern)or ethnic hair types. They are best left to a professional!

Q. How often should I change my shampoo brand?

A. If you are using professional shampoos, you may never need to. On the other hand, water conditions can affect how some products react with your hair. Differences in water condition may prompt you to change to a different kind shampoo. If you travel frequently, you may need several different products depending on the local water conditions. Also, medication you take orally comes out in the hair. If you have changed prescription drugs recently, you may need to switch shampoos and or styling products. If you find that your shampoo is fine for a few days and then your hair becomes weighted down or coated, you are using a poor quality shampoo and/or conditioner that is unsuited for your hair type! Even the time of the year can affect your hair. In severe climates, many people spend the winter months in dry, heated homes. Other times of the year it may be humid. Ask your hairdresser for recommendations.

Q. My blonde hair becomes green when I use the public swimming pool.How can I prevent this?

A. Green hair makes it's appearance every summer. With more and more spas and Jacuzzi's becoming popular, it is starting to be a year round event. The green color is most noticeable in blonde hair although it can coat and damage any hair type.. Most people assume it is from the chlorine used to purify the water in pools and spas. Chlorine itself is colorless, but greenish compounds form in the pool/spa environment and are readily absorbed by porous hair strands.

To remove it from the hair you will need to use products that are made for this purpose. Your hairdresser can recommend some chelating and clarifying shampoos. In unusually difficult cases, where the hair is extremely porous (such as bleached hair) your hairdresser may need to apply a color stripper chemical treatment.

To prevent it's reoccurrence, you have to keep your hair out of the pool! If that isn't possible then you can minimize the hair's porosity by wetting the hair thoroughly before entering the pool. A good conditioner before swimming may help too.

Q. Is mayonnaise a good hair conditioner?

A. NO! Mayonnaise is primarily vegetable oil, eggs, and/or lemon juice or vinegar. None of those ingredients belong in your hair. It can cause matting, tangles and knots in the hair which must be cut off to remove! (Besides, your hair would smell like a salad!)

Q. I am losing my hair rapidly, can anything be done?

A. Hair loss for no apparent reason should cause you to check with your doctor. Assuming that checks out OK, there are a few reasons why we lose our hair. Heredity is a big one. If your are male, you usually inherit your hairline from your mother's father. Men's tendency to lose hair with age, is known as male pattern baldness. There is no way to permanently stop its progress, but there are things you can do to slow it down.

Many bald men have shiny heads, almost as if they had waxed and buffed them to a shine. In fact, the scalp secretes a waxlike substance called sebum. It is that substance that causes the shine on bald heads. It is present on all heads and if you are losing hair, it is possible that excess sebum is choking off hair follicles. Have your hairdresser recommend a shampoo for you that contains sebum emulsifiers.

Another thing that has proved to be helpful is any form of scalp stimulation. By massaging the scalp, increased blood flow causes moderate hair re growth. Get a quality, boar bristle brush to use. These natural bristles are good for your hair and stimulate the scalp nicely. Spend a little more time massaging your scalp as you shampoo and condition. Try a vibrating hair brush! They feel wonderful! Try Minoxidil to stop hair loss and regrow hair. It is now available without a prescription, and there are generic versions on the market which are less expensive. It doesn't work for everyone, but it is the only hair grower on the market that has been clinically proven to work!

Q. My hair is dry, but when I use a conditioner it weighs it down, what should I do?

A. Studies show that most people list dry hair as their biggest hair problem. But that may not be the problem at all. What you are calling dry hair may be fine, limp hair, without body. If you do not have a permanent wave, or permanent color and you wear your hair short, you may need a volumizing conditioner! A bodifier may be a better choice, such as a mousse or root lift (Graham Webb, Root Infusion). If your hair is weighted down, skip the conditioner, get a lighter conditioner like a spray leave-in, or a bodifying conditioner such as Rusk Sensories Invisible, FAT CAT Body Booster Fine Hair Volumist, or Biolage's Leave-In Conditioning Spray, . You don't have to use the conditioner every day, try it every other day or once a week.

Q. I have dark hair but I want to dye it like grey or mink white. How do I do that?

A. Lightening dark hair is the most difficult of the color changes. It does the most damage of any of the hair color changes. For this type of service we strongly recommend a professional hairdresser! However, If you are intent on trying it yourself, here is what you can expect. Hair grows 1/2 inch per month (on average) so your dark roots will show in one week and will need a touch-up by two weeks.

Your hair will need to be bleached twice to achieve this color change. The first bleach will leave the hair a nasty shade of orange. The hair must then be dried completely and the second bleach applied. When the hair reaches pale yellow, the bleach must be removed. If you attempt to continue bleaching beyond this point, your hair may melt and break. Some hair is too dark to be bleached successfully before complete breakage occurs. An experienced hairdresser can usually tell this by examining your hair.

When the hair is lifted to a pale yellow, a toner may then be applied achieve a platinum shade (usually a toner with a blue or blue violet base). The scalp may burn and get blisters after two bleach processes. A good hairdresser can avoid this and perhaps would even suggest a color "weave" for you, to lighten your hair without such a root maintenance schedule.

Q. When my hair is short (under 2 inches) I have a problem with my "cowlick" sticking straight up. Is there a way to relax the hair so that it will not do this?

A. Unfortunately not. The hair grows out from the follicle on the scalp, in one direction only and this can not be changed. A good strong gel or leaving extra length on the cowlick area or both are the best bet.

Q. Is it true that after you've bleached your hair it wont grow back the same as your color before?

A. This is folklore! Perms, bleaches and haircolors only affect hair above the scalp. The hair will grow back exactly the same color that it was. The new hairs that are "growing in" may appear to be darker in color than you remember your natural hair, but this is an optical illusion. Also new hair growth has not yet had a chance to be lightened by the sun or alkaline processes such as shampooing.

Q. Can you make your hair lighter by using lemon juice?

A. Not exactly, Lemon juice by itself will not lighten the hair. Lemon juice AND the ultraviolet rays of the sun will lighten your hair. (similar to a product called "Sun-In" ) The drawback here is dryness and if your is dark to begin with, it will turn orangutan orange! This job is better done by a professional. I also would like to suggest a "Weave". The weave (unlike the allover color) will not show such an extreme outgrowth line (dark roots). If you are already a dark blonde or very light brown you can probably use the lemon juice and sun method. Be sure to buy a really good "conditioning pac" for after. Also the lemon, sun method needs about 5 hours in the sun. (not good for the skin so wear sun block!)

Q. I am trying to find the right products or a solution for my thick, naturally curly hair. I am looking for a gel, spray, or mousse that will define my natural curls more into ringlets. Should I consider a chemical hair relaxer?

A. KMS has a new product line called Flat-Out that is a nonchemical straightener. It is used with the heat from a blow dryer to relax the curl until the next shampoo. This is also a very successful product. ($16.00 per 8oz.) Chemical straightening is very hard on the hair and usually is a disappointment even if it is done by a professional. It is the alternative before madness in my opinion. Definitely try the others first.

Q. I have black hair and I was wondering how would I get it light brown or blonde? What kind of product would I use?

A. Black hair is the most difficult to lighten. A very strong product must be used. Because the hair is so dark it will go through an orange stage during the process and this is a tough stage to get through. First the hair must be strong and in good shape. Then a cream bleach product for on the scalp must be chosen such as Clairol Compliments Gel Lightener or Wella Speedlight. An all over bleaching is not my first choice, I suggest a "Frost" or a "Weave" to reduce the amount of damage. Also, a "Weave" or "Frost" only needs to be redone every 4-8 weeks. An over all bleach will show dark roots in 2 weeks!

Frosting kits usually come with everything you need. I also think a professional is the best person to do a frost or a bleach. At home, frosts are chancy. Strands of hair are pulled through a frosting cap. Usually, lots of holes with small strands of hair through them make the prettiest weaves, but some prefer large chunks of hair pulled through. Hair is pulled through the cap with a crochet hook. This process is very uncomfortable on long hair.

Frosting bleach is applied over the cap to the exposed hair, and a plastic "shower" cap is placed over the hair, bleach and frosting cap. Process about 40 minutes. Don't remove the cap until you like the color of the hair that has been bleached. Shampoo the bleach off. If it is an ugly orange color, the hair needs to be completely dried (Don't take the frosting cap off!)and the bleach remixed and reapplied. Hair will not take any more than 2 bleachings so hopefully the hair will lighten enough on the second bleaching. Do not leave the bleach on any longer than necessary on the second bleaching. Get a really good conditioner (like Redken Extreme Pak.)

Q. I'm a teenager that wants to dye my hair, alot of the boys at my school are bleaching their hair white and I would too but I am afraid of the damage it might do to my hair, what should I expect if I bleach my hair?

A.Yes,hair bleach will damage your hair. However, it is usually considered intentional damage. The darker your natural hair is, the longer the bleach must remain on your hair to lift out the natural color. The longer the bleach is on the hair, the more damage is done. Your hair may stop resembling hair, and take on a texture that is more like cotton. Bleach is capable of melting the hair completely off, so you may want to have a professional do your lightening for you. On the other hand, if you accidently melt it off with too much bleach, it will grow back just fine. Be sure to use a hair cream bleach that is designed to be used against the scalp. Weaving or frosting bleach may be too harsh and cause blistering or soreness.

Q. I got a spiral perm and I am tired of it. I was wondering if there is a natural way to remove the perm from my hair?

A. Sorry, no natural way to remove the perm, but there is a chemical way that is not too awfully damaging. Take another perm (a gentle one for color treated hair) Comb the solution through the hair (not continual combing, just enough to saturate the hair) then let the hair process while you sit quietly for the 15 or 20 minute time. (follow timing directions) Rinse the hair and towel dry, apply neutralizer, combing through only until it is covered, leave on the hair 5 minutes and rinse out. The hair will need a good conditioning pack, Redken makes one called Extreme pack and Nexxus makes one called Keraphix. Any good pack that has moisture plus protein in it will do. Pack it on the rinsed and towel dried hair and put under a plastic cap for 20 minutes. Rinse and style as usual and the hair should be back to your normal curl or non-curl pattern.


About the Author

Mickhael has been a licensed Cosmetologist for over 20 years, including ownership of quality salons across the U.S. for over 15 years. He has worked as a platform artist and educator for several haircare companies, and was awarded the prestigious Paul Mitchell Medal of Honor. Mickhael used these experiences in formulating & producing the Oasis Haircare line, as well as, the Fat Lip Makeup Company, which he promotes in his beauty products supply stores & online.

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Posted on 03/05/07 06:40 by: julianna

I got my hair permanently straightened 2 years ago and its never been the same. My hair falls out, its dry, and dull. Is the process reversable?
Posted on 02/07/07 16:27 by: Charlie Kuchinsky

My hair seems to fall out by the handfuls these days. I'm doing nothing different so I'm not sure why. But it is depressing.
Posted on 10/08/07 18:06 by: racquel hines

I have half of my head bleached w/toner on top. I want to perm my hair, is there something out now that I can do this with? Possibly a perm solution made for this?
Posted on 22/09/07 00:12 by: sarah

what's a pixi cut?
Posted on 22/09/07 14:09 by: Jon

See examples of a pixie cut here:
Posted on 11/09/08 16:49 by: Tanya

I have had my hair scalped bleached for a while now to a platinum color and my hair is in good condition considering! However, I would like to grow this out now but I was wondering the best way of doing this so it looks like natural re-growth without blatant roots! Is it best to get my salon to put highlights and low lights in to help the re-growth process?

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