Healthy habits lead to healthy hair
The next time you visit your hair stylist, you may find yourself on camera, or rather, your scalp may be center screen. Hair professionals have gone high tech in search of comprehensive diagnostics when it comes to hair health, which begins with the scalp, and extends to lifestyle, diet, and stress management.
According to stylist Ryu Shin, early assessment combined with small lifestyle changes goes a long way to prevent hair loss and scalp issues, which are more common than people think.
“Most people never consider their scalp, and most people don’t care, though the scalp influences the hair condition and everyone wants great hair,” he said. “An unhealthy scalp is one way that nature tells us we have an unbalanced lifestyle.”
Ryu is the owner of "Funny Hair Style" salon, located near Hongik University in northern Seoul, commonly referred to as Hongdae.
Although he is often sought out for his award-winning techniques in creating funky Reggae-inspired braids or “dreds,” Ryu has developed his own regime for scalp care, which he says is the first step to healthy hair.
"We assess clients using a device that is essentially a powerful webcam that magnifies the scalp," Ryu said.
He added that there are distinct patterns among clients.
“Men tend to have excessively oily hair, whereas women often suffer conditions involving a dry scalp. Koreans in general are less likely to suffer from hair loss than Caucasians, who often have extremely dry hair.”
Ways to improve scalp health
Ryu explained that there are simple ways to improve the health of the scalp, many of which can be achieved outside of a salon.
“Maintaining a diet rich in proteins and folic acids is vital. Legumes are one of the best sources of nutrients for hair. Others include soy, fatty fish and leafy vegetables,” he said.
Ryu emphasized that while changing eating habits can have a positive effect on the hair, dieting does not.
“Nutrition is always great, but drastic dieting is a direct route to hair loss”, he said. “In addition, excessive alcohol, smoking, sun exposure and heavy use of chemical products contribute to scalp issues. Wearing a hat every day or putting the hair up constantly is also detrimental. When it comes to hair, gentle is always best,” he said.
According to Ryu, it isn’t necessary to invest a fortune into hair products, but there is a right and wrong way to wash and brush hair.
“Your stylist can help you select a suitable shampoo,” he said. “Hair should be washed as needed, and everyone’s different. Water temperature should be slightly warm, but never hot, and it’s best to let the shampoo sit on the hair for three to four minutes before rinsing thoroughly”.
Ryu added that letting the hair drip dry at night may lead to bacterial build up.
“Some people shower at night, towel dry and go straight to bed, which is a bad idea. The best way to dry the hair is with a towel, followed by a drier that uses mostly cool air.”
And not all hairbrushes are created equal, though technique is more important than an expensive hairbrush.
“Choose a brush with wide spread, rounded teeth, and gently brush, massaging the scalp,” he said. “Avoid brushing wet hair; this leads to breakage and puts stress on the scalp”.
Salon scalp care generally involves camera diagnosis, a “scaling” or scrubbing process, ampoule treatment, and at Funny Hair, one of Ryu’s signature “air massages” to improve blood circulation and unclog pores.
“The most important thing is to remember that the body is a connected system,” he said. “A healthy lifestyle leads to radiant hair.”
The writer is a guest columnist from Ontario, Canada, and is currently living in Seoul. She welcomes topic suggestions from readers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org