1. Clarify: Wash your hair properly with shampoo
To rule out the possibility that a product or product build-up is the cause, wash your hair well with shampoo from root to tip. It is best to use a special clarifying shampoo, but sometimes even washing with a mild SLS-free shampoo can work.
It is important not to use any products after washing. Only then will you get to see the true state of your hair, without products, and you can discover what your hair needs. By adding products to your routine one by one, you can identify the culprit.
2. Wash your hair with mineral water
Our tap water contains lime. Some of us have soft water with little lime coming out of the tap, but others are less fortunate with hard lime water. In the Netherlands, we have fairly soft water, but a little bit can even cause problems with some hair types. Lime is very hard to wash out, it dries out your hair and even makes products work less well. Together with lime, ingredients from products can mix to form a strange build-up layer on your hair.
By washing with mineral water you can rule out the possibility that the problem lies with hard water. The best thing to do is to clarify if you suspect that lime is the problem, this will wash all the lime out of your hair.
3. Write down your hair routine for yourself
Make an overview of what you do and what products you use. Is there any of those things that you could blame? Maybe you use a hairdryer a lot, maybe you brush a lot.
If you don’t know very well, go and exclude things one by one. But there are often 3 types of causes of damage/problems: thermal (due to heat), mechanical (brushing, hair accessories) and chemical (hair dyeing, permanent, but also the use of care products).
4. Keep track of changes in your hair routine (and changes in your life that affect your hair).
The question I often ask when someone knocks on the door with a problem is: when did it start?
Sometimes there is an identifiable moment, but sometimes you need some help to remember it. You may have started using a new product, or you may have entered a stressful period or moved to a place with hard water (without even realising it).
If you suffer from hair problems quickly, it is good to write down changes for yourself anyway. I keep a hair growth chart every month and write down when I’ve switched to another product. If my hair suddenly starts to look weird or is completely happy then I know better why.
5. Moisturise or protein treatment?
Whatever the cause, many hair problems consist of having too little fluid or too little protein in the hair. And fortunately, you can make up for those shortages.
How do you recognise a protein deficiency and how do you treat it?
It’s often the result of hair dye and can be seen in very damaged hair. If your hair is very stretchy but also breaks very quickly and looks dull when it’s wet, your hair may need a protein treatment. You can use a commercial hair product for this, but if you’re more of a homemade treatment you can use gelatin. Avoid egg, because those proteins are too big to be absorbed by your hair. Be careful, because too much protein doesn’t make your hair happy.
It is also possible that many of the connections between the protein chains, the so-called sulfur compounds, are broken down by, for example, dyeing or bleaching. A very good product, in that case, is Olaplex. Always ask your hairdresser if you have your hair dyed and bring home a jar of No. 3.
How do you recognize a lack of moisture and how do you treat it?
Lint, static hair, dull dry but shiny when wet, all signs of dehydrated hair. I say dehydrated here because this is really about lack of moisture and not the opposite of oily hair (too little oil). A good recipe to give your hair a hydration boost is the SMT, which consists of warmed honey, aloe vera and silicone-free conditioner.