For many cultures around the world and throughout human history, hairstyles very much depended upon the wealth, age, and social status of the individual. Whether worn long or short, bald or full, up or down, with a preferred curl or straightness, hair was a message sent to others about both status and individual personality. Even hair color was seen as a sign of certain traits in the wearer, positive or not, and this is something that has been passed along from generation to generation.
To this day it remains such. Perhaps hairstyles and healthy heads of hair are seen as even more important now, more so than the outward appearance of makeup and clothes, due to mass media and the advent of so many sciences devoted to the beauty of the tresses.
For more on the cultural histories of hair, click here: Global History of Hair
The Use and Abuse of Hair
Hair is one of the easiest things to dramatically and instantly change about a person, and that one major reason is why it sustains such massive amounts of abuse. From natural stressors like sun and wind damage to more modern inventiveness like perming and a wide range of dyes, human hair is put through the ringer fairly often. The average person using a permanent or semi-permanent hair color will dye their locks every 4-6 weeks, for a grand total of 8-10 times per year.
Brushing and braiding and curling and heat styling all take their tolls as well. Plus, many modern styling aids on the market are just as likely to do harm as opposed to good, especially if the consumer isn’t made well aware of what key ingredients constitute a truly beneficial product.
Personal Health and Hair
Aside from the stressors and severely damaging factors that are under personal control, there are also aspects that affect the wellness and fullness of hair which fall outside of that realm. Many fairly common health conditions, which impact the look and health of hair, affecting millions of people today can include but are not limited to:
- Alopecia (also known as androgenetic alopecia)
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Emotional Stress
- Pregnancy (usually experienced in later stages or after birth)
- Severe allergic reaction
- Psoriasis (when on the scalp)
- And certain medications
The Latest in Grooming and Hair Care Options
Science has brought the personal care and beauty industry a long way, and today there are more options than ever before for quality and healthy hair care. Costs for these options can range from as little as $10 to well into the thousands.
Some of the most recent and least invasive innovations include treatments such as a protein packs and masques, hot oil treatments, coconut oil immersions, raw shea moisture, and even ojon restorative oil treatments. Many salons are now also offering keratin hair treatments.
Keratin is a protein made up of amino acids, and it helps recover hair strength, along with elasticity and moisture that have been lost and/or destroyed over time. After the keratin is applied to the hair, the stylist will seal it with a protective mask, and then blow dry or flat iron the hair. This has been shown to be very effective in dry and brittle hair, particularly tresses suffering from over-dyeing, over-styling, and severe sun and wind damage.
In years past, there were health concerns about the safety of keratin treatments, despite effectiveness, due to the presence of formaldehyde in some products. But, now the latest in science has made the benefits of keratin available without the same amount of potential risk.
However, for those who have suffered irreversible hair loss, the options are different but still many. For those who have alopecia, hormonal imbalance, or who have suffered through chemotherapy only to find their hair did not return to be the same as it once was, there is hope.
The latest offerings in the medical and salon worlds include: bio-identical hormone therapy for hormonal imbalances, diet and mineral based therapies, minoxidil (commonly known as Rogaine), androgen receptor inhibitors along with various other prescription medications, a whole host of holistic options (which are currently shown to have mixed results), surgical hair transplants, human hair wigs and additions, and synthetic hair wigs and extensions and covers.
Beautiful hair needs not be a birth right. With all of the possibilities available on the market today thanks to numerous scientific advances, healthy and vibrant hair is also now the domain of the explorer.