Heat and humidity can be tough on your hair. Here are some simple tips to keep hair healthy and shining.

While short hair is ideal for our hot humid climate, most women opt for the traditional long haired look. But summer is a time when one has to take extra care of hair, whether long or short. Long hair has certain specific problems, which can be dealt with if you take a little extra effort.

Long hair problems

Split Ends: Travelling to work with the wind rushing through your hair might leave you with hair like a haystack. This causes tangling, matting and dries out the hair. Split ends are also often caused by mineral deficiency.

The Sun: Sun exposure damages the hair's natural protective film. A recent study showed that, after just three days of sun exposure, the scale-like cells that cover each individual hair shaft begin to pull off. This makes hair, dry, dull, fragile and brittle.

Humidity: The higher the humidity, the more hydrogen bonds are broken. Hence, the more moisture in the hair, the more the hair will stretch.

What you can do: Cover your hair with a scarf while travelling. Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins. Include a lot of proteins in your diet like palak, paneer and milk.

Chemical Treatment: Hair that has been dyed or highlighted is especially prone to UV damage. Colour-treated hair is already damaged and the sun will make the cuticle even rougher.

What you can do: Stay away from hair-lightening products as most contain some form of peroxide or metal.

Water sports: Both chlorine and salt water dry and discolour hair. Chemicals in pool water bind to the hair and give it a greyish or greenish cast. Mineral deposits in salt water, in combination with sunlight, severely dehydrate hair and turn it brittle.

What you can do: Wet your hair and apply a conditioner before you get into the pool. Wash your hair with a daily scalp cleanser as soon as you finish swimming.

Loose Anagen Syndrome: This is related to diet and shows up as a white tip on a fallen hair. The root or white bulb indicates that the growth cycle is normal, but the root is not strong enough to sustain the pressure of a fully-grown hair. The longer your hair, worse the problem.

What you need to do: Change your diet after consulting a doctor.

Regular maintenance

One of the most common causes for a bad hair day is poor maintenance or lack of good hair care. With proper care, simple techniques and the right products, anyone can have beautiful and healthy locks.

Finger Raking: Upon waking, run your fingers through hair to remove tangles.

Brushing: Bend forward, allowing hair to fall. Using a wooden base natural bristle brush, work your way from the nape of the neck over the head down to the ends. Then, stand straight with hair falling normally and brush from the underside of the hairline down the strands to the ends. Finally brush the top layers into place with long, even strokes. After each stroke, smooth hair with hands to reduce static. Increase the number of strokes every week, starting with five and increasing by one a week until you find a comfortable routine. If oiliness develops, reduce strokes. Brush only when hair is dry because hair is weakest when wet. Even when hair is dry always comb before brushing.

Combing: Separate hair into small sections. With a wide-tooth comb, carefully work from the ends in a downward direction only. Use only a wooden or tortoise shell comb; never rubber or iron. Make sure the ends are not pointed. Do not pull or yank hair.

Shampooing: The scalp produces an oily substance called sebum, which coats each hair, and keeps it looking shiny and soft. Choose a shampoo that removes the right amount of oil. Use a scalp cleanser designed to remove toxins like chlorine as well as pollutants. Daily shampooing is not a problem as long as the shampoo is meant for daily use. Try not to use a dryer. After washing, gently squeeze excess water from your hair and blot it with a towel. Never comb or brush wet hair, as it is more susceptible to stretching and breaking when wet. Finger-comb gently and wait until it is damp before styling.

Conditioning: Oil your hair regularly. The traditional oiling routine was responsible for lustrous quality of hair but with lifestyle changes and dictates of fashion, it is losing popularity. Oil your scalp every alternate day to stimulate blood flow and relieve stress. Sluggish blood flow and stress can cause hair loss. Use Jaborandi hair oil to massage your hair once a week, leave overnight and wash off the next day.

Styling: Your hairstyle is a reflection of your personality and individuality. But conventional styling products contain alcohol or other harsh chemicals, which keep the hair in place and give an appearance of shiny healthy hair. Avoid excessive dry heat, such as that from blow dryers and curling irons.

Sleeping: Even the way you sleep can affect your hair. Restless sleepers may actually break hair as they sleep. Putting hair up while sleeping is also helpful; use rubber bands wrapped in cloth.

Remember that hair is a man-made fibre and a natural reflector of your health and well being. So if you are unhealthy, it will show in your hair. Treat your body with care, follow a proper hair care programme and supplement your diet with balancing vitamins and your hair will look good and feel great.

Quick tips

Before going to the beach or pool, comb conditioner through the hair. This helps to protect hair from the sun, chlorine, salt water.

Invest in a hair conditioner that contains a sunscreen. The sun's heat will activate the conditioner, softening your hair, while the sunscreen will prevent UV rays from causing damage to the strands.

If your hair is colour- treated, be especially sure to use a leave-in conditioner with sunscreen to prevent the colour from fading out.

Wear a hat, cap or scarf to protect hair from over-exposure to the sun, salt or chlorinated water, wind and air pollution.

Eat a balanced and sensible diet to ensure you are getting essential nutrients.