What do a lion, a Shetland pony and Fabio have in common? A gorgeous mane the ladies (of their respective species, at least) love.
All right, we can't vouch for the romantic effect on big cats and small horses. It obviously works for Fabio. And there's hope too for the average guy who doesn't have a legion of "grooming professionals" armed with hair spray and feathering razors to ready him for his photo shoot. Head-turning hair is healthy hair -- and for that, we can learn as much from the animal kingdom as from a supermodel.
Intrigued? Then read on. We'll explore five ways to show your hair some love.
Treat Wet Hair with Special Care
Hair's main component is a protein called keratin. Water stretches and weakens keratin molecules, so hair is more fragile when wet.
Unfortunately, this is just when hair gets its roughest treatment: washing, drying and the application of all kinds of "care" products.
To minimize damage, wash hair only as needed. If you have naturally oily hair, that may be daily, but most guys can go longer. Overwashing can actually dull hair by stripping away protective oils.
Make your routine as gentle as possible. Use warm water, not hot water. Massage the scalp rather than scrubbing, and blot hair dry with a towel instead of firing up the blow dryer. Ease out tangles with a wide-toothed comb.
Next: Waxy buildup isn't only on floors.
Watch the Greasy Stuff
From slick to spiky, gels and other styling aids create looks that your hair left alone would never accomplish. Gels work their architectural feats using polymers -- that is, plastic -- dissolved in alcohol. Alcohol can weaken keratin and strip hair of moisture and oils. That damages keratin, leaving hair weak and brittle. Use gels sparingly, preferably those that are alcohol free.
Pomades and waxes, on the other hand, contain heavier ingredients like petroleum jelly and beeswax. Removing them may take repeated washings or a stronger shampoo than you would otherwise use, which can also damage hair. Newer, water-based formulas help avoid this problem. But remember: A little goes a long way.
Match Your Shampoo to Your Hair Type
Formulating different shampoos for different types of hair isn't just a marketing ploy. These products contain specific ingredients to remedy problems like dryness and excess oil in hair.
Shampoos for dry hair contain fats or oils, humectants (water-drawing ingredients like glycerin or glycerol), and panthenol, a form of vitamin B5. Clarifying shampoos treat oily hair with degreasers, including tea tree oil, rosemary and chamomile. Brittle hair that frizzes and splits easily might benefit from proteins, such as collagen, keratin, and wheat and silk proteins.
When comparing brands of shampoo, don't judge by price alone. The most expensive products and the cheapest sometimes contain the same active ingredients. Find the one that works best for you.
Our next tip: You can't get a shave and a haircut for two bits these days, but it's still a steal if you want healthy hair.
Get a Haircut
Once hairs sprout from your scalp, it's no longer growing -- they're just growing older. Hair on the end of a strand, or shaft, can be up to six years old. It's seen a lot of wear and tear. Also, hair naturally loses moisture with age. The protective outer covering (the cuticle) can split at the ends, which can move farther up the shaft and lead to further weakness, dryness and damage.
A regular trim helps nip the problem in the bud. Hair strength varies with genes, washing routine and other treatments, and exposure to sun and heat, so some guys can go longer between cuts than others. Because the cuticle reflects light, dull hair is a sign that the cuticle is cracking up. Act soon to avoid a head full of frizzies.
Our last piece of advice is something most people agree on.
Eat Right and Exercise
Eating a healthy diet is the only way to truly nourish hair. Substances applied from the outside can only improve appearance and texture.
Hair needs the same spectrum of nutrients as the rest of the body, and some are especially beneficial. For example, hair is largely protein. Meat and dairy foods pack the most protein punch, with soy foods running a close second. Biotin, a B vitamin, promotes softness and strength. It's found in brown rice, leafy greens and eggs. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish and nuts are especially good for the scalp. Getting enough fluid in both food and drink is also essential to handsome hair.
And exercise? It increases the blood flow, delivering all those nutrients to your scalp -- which, you'll remember, is where healthy hair starts.
After a certain age, a lot of men start growing hair in places they don't want it — and stop growing it where they do. HOwStuffWorks looks at why.
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