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Hair Systems | Preventing Dry, Damaged Hair

The processed human hair in your hair replacement system needs more care and attention than you may be used to giving your growing hair. Because the hair in your system is not exposed to the natural oils in your scalp, it’s not continuously moisturized the way growing hair is. When you add in exposure to things like shampoo, hot water and chlorine, the integrity of your hair system can deteriorate rapidly.

Long hair (about 10 inches or longer) needs even gentler care and consideration. The extra length makes your hair more susceptible to breakage and damage, so it’s important to be mindful of the basic guidelines below. Over time, practices such as keeping hair flowing in one direction when washing and wearing a braid to bed will become second nature.

The following are general rules to follow when caring for a hair replacement system. Whether you are washing, conditioning, blow drying or combing your hair, always keep it flowing in the same direction — usually back or down — to avoid tangling. This is especially important for long hair and wet hair of any length.

Avoid hot water

Hot water opens the hair shaft. Although this is helpful in allowing the hair to absorb shampoo or conditioner, it also causes dryness over time. Washing with hot water may also contribute to tangling. On the other hand, cool or cold water closes the hair shaft, resulting in smoother, glossier hair. It’s for this reason we recommend using the coolest water tolerable in the shower, and cold water when washing your system in the sink.

When in the shower, wash your hair with warm water, and rinse with cool water. When shampooing your system in the sink, wash and rinse with cold water. Unless a treatment calls for it, avoid using hot water.

Avoid chlorine

The chlorine in water damages your system by drying and oxidizing the hair. When chlorine is not filtered out of water, the hair in your system gradually changes color and becomes prone to breakage, frizzing and tangling.

The water in an average home is more chlorinated than a swimming pool. Shower filters are an affordable way to filter out chlorine; they work well, and are easy to install. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for your chosen product to properly maintain the filter throughout the year.

To lessen the effects of chlorine in swimming pools, wet your hair with filtered water prior to swimming and liberally apply leave-in conditioner. The hair absorbs the conditioner and can better withstand the chlorinated water.

If you have long hair

Follow the steps above before entering the pool; in addition, put your hair in a braid or wear a swim cap. Chlorine, along with the movement of your hair in the water, can cause excessive tangling in long hair.

Shampoo infrequently

Because your hair system is not exposed to your natural scalp oils the way your growing hair is, the hair in your system won’t need to be cleaned as often. The downside is that it won’t be naturally moisturized the way growing hair is.

Because of these variables, you don’t need to shampoo your system very often. You will find a washing schedule that works for you, but usually shampooing once or twice a week is perfectly acceptable. To avoid tangling, remember to comb the shampoo and conditioner through the system with a wide-tooth comb with the hair flowing in the same direction.

If you have long hair

Always comb through your dry hair with a wide-tooth comb before entering the shower. Once you’ve rinsed your hair, apply shampoo to your growing hair first, to make sure your hair and scalp are thoroughly cleaned. Lastly, apply the shampoo to your hair system.

Condition as often as possible

You can never condition your hair enough. You may condition your system daily when in the shower and occasionally between washings. If your hair is curly, wavy or blond, we recommend you condition every day.

Use a leave-in conditioner one to two times a day to help keep your hair soft and tangle-free.

If you have long hair

Deep condition your system each time you remove it, or at least every two weeks.

Always comb before you brush

If you plan to brush your hair, work the tangles out with a wide-tooth comb first. While this is recommended for both long and short hair, it may not apply to very short hair systems that a vent-style brush can easily pass through.

If you have long hair

Use a wide-tooth comb before brushing to release knots or tangles. When brushing, use a brush with flexible bristles, like a poly tip blow-dry brush or detangling brush. Avoid dense bristle brushes (like boar bristle brushes) and vent brushes, which can easily pull and snap the hair.

When combing out knots or tangles, apply leave-in conditioner. Then start at the ends and work your way up the length of the hair.

Wide-tooth combs

Wide-tooth combs are great for releasing tangles and dispersing product through wet hair. A wide-tooth comb is recommended for hair over 6 inches long. For a comb that’s very gentle on your hair, try a seamless “bone” comb. Made from resin, authentic bone combs will not have seams on the teeth or tines. The seams on traditional combs drag along the hair and cause damage. When purchasing, inspect the comb for seams on the sides of the teeth, as standard combs are sometimes advertised as bone combs.

Use safe hats and head-wear

If you wear a helmet for work or recreation, it is most likely safe for your hair. However, to provide an extra level of protection, consider wearing a bandana or scarf over your hair and under the helmet.

Athletic caps, like baseball hats, are safe to wear. For the most part, any hat with a smooth interior should be safe for your hair.

Avoid knitted or crocheted hats because natural fibers, like wool or cotton, rub and catch on your hair, causing friction, tangling and frizzing.

Never wear a hat of any kind over wet hair.

If you have long hair

All of the above rules regarding hats apply even more so for long hair. Additionally, be mindful of the material of your winter coat, as your hair will hang down your back and catch on wool fibers. Also, if it has a hood, your hair will scrunch up inside of it and tangle.

Use safe hair accessories

You have many options for hair accessories. Items like scrunchies and plastic jaw clips are easy on hair. Be aware that repeated use of tight hair bands or barrettes will break the hair. Use hair bands that do not have any metal, as metal can cause damage. Metal duckbill and double-prong clips are safe when used with care.

Heat styling

Because each system is made of different donor hair, the quality can vary from one order to the next. Therefore, not all systems are able to handle heat styling the same way. For consistent results, limit heat styling — including blow drying — and try to develop a routine that doesn't require it on a daily basis. When you need to blow dry, set the hair dryer to the coolest setting. Other heat-styling tools should always be on the lowest setting. Remember to protect your hair with a thermal protection product before heat styling.

If you choose to blow dry or heat style often, your hair systems will need to be replaced more frequently.

For proper blow drying, put your hair dryer on the coolest setting, and use a diffuser to keep the hair from blowing around and tangling. Blow dry down the hair shaft, in the direction the hair falls. If using a round brush while drying, don’t pull on the hair to minimize breakage and shedding.

Protect your hair while you sleep

We suggest you use silk, satin or high-thread-count Egyptian cotton pillowcases that will not absorb moisture from your hair or cause it to tangle or mat while you sleep. These fibers don’t pull on hair cuticles like traditional cotton can. Don’t sleep on a flannel pillowcase, as this will ruin your hair system over time, causing it to excessively tangle, mat and dry out.

If you have long hair

Apply leave-in conditioner and comb out all the tangles before bed. If your hair is curly, you may find it helpful to braid it, or wear it in a side ponytail to keep it from moving around and tangling. For long, curly hair, hold your hair on top of your head in a loose ponytail with a scrunchies, so you don’t crush your curls in your sleep. For the best protection, sleep in a silk head scarf.

Protect your hair from sun and oxidation

Sun and light exposure will gradually oxidize your hair to a lighter, warmer color. Protect your hair by using products with UV filters. Wear safe hats during prolonged sun exposure, such as when gardening or at the beach.