Timeless secrets to gorgeous hair. Rediscovered.

Timeless secrets to gorgeous hair. Rediscovered.

Common Indian Hair Problems and Misconceptions

Straight from the expert: Dr. Rashmi Shetty

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By the Hairsutras Team

Dr. Rashmi Shetty’s office in Santacruz (West) is very unlike your regular clinic. Its delightful decor and high ceilings are instantly refreshing. Dr. Shetty is one of the most popular dermatologists in the country: pictures of celebrities from across India frame the hall, and the clients trooping in seem to have a long standing relationship with the Doctor. As someone who is an expert on Indian hair and skin, we rounded up a list of questions to find out what India has been asking her:

Hairsutra: What are the most common Indian hair problems? What are most of your patients complaining about?

The commonest problems Indian’s face is hair texture. While Caucasians have fine, straight hair and African-Americans have curly hair, the Indian hair texture falls somewhere in between. People complain about the flat, wavy, frizzy texture of their hair.

Historically, Indian women have had thick, strong hair. Our scriptures, mythology and art depict women with strong hair. Tirupathi, the temple famous for accepting hair donations, is known to collect the longest, darkest and thickest hair. But over the years, that has changed. There has been a loss in texture, hydration levels have gone down, modern hair care methods have taken over,and almost all my patients have issues with frizzy hair. It’s very simple to counter this, by oiling twice-thrice a week and drinking enough water. The quality of our hair was far better when we took care of the basics in our hair care.

Another very common issue amongst clients is hair fall, teenagers also have hair-fall which is surprising. Premature greying is also very common.

Hairsutra: What are the most common Indian misconceptions when it comes to hair care?

Indian Mundan! Scientifically, there is no reasoning behind this. Sardars and Sardarnis never cut their hair, and they are known to have thick, long hair. So, the superstition that it promotes hair growth makes no sense. However, they may have had another reason for this, which is to see the scalp sutures.

Another misconception is that grey hair can be treated, which it cannot. Greying is not a process that can be reversed: which brings me to another common Indian misconception, that when you pull out a grey strand, two more grow in its place.

People also believe that when you keep cutting your hair, you get rid of split ends. That is when you’re treating the symptom, and not the reason. When the split-end happens, yes, you can cut it off. But going on cutting your hair is not going to help with the split ends. Split-ends are usually caused by a Vitamin A Deficiency and need to be healed with hair packs and the right dietary supplements.

Hairsutra: As Indians, our hair quality is getting worse by the generation. But, how much of one’s hair problems are genetic?

50 percent of your hair issues are genetic, and 50 percent are lifestyle. There is a term called andro-genetic alopecia (which is male-pattern baldness).They don't call this andro-genetic anymore, since recent studies have proved that this has nothing to do with genes. Nutrition and lifestyle have a lot to do with common problems that people think they have inherited: like hair fall and greying. These hair problems can be resolved by proper and timely care.

Hairsutra: In Indian climates and environment,what are the cardinal rules to follow when it comes to hair maintenance?

Hygiene is very important for hair and scalp health, with increasing levels of dust and pollution. Also, knowing what type of scalp you have- oily or dry, and picking the right shampoo according to that, will really help you maintain your moisture balance.

There are no rules when it comes to how often you wash your hair. To shampoo everyday, twice a week or thrice a week: this depends on your hair type. But, also listen to what your hair is telling you. If you ride a bicycle on a dusty day, you would wash your hair afterwards, right? It’s just like washing your hands and your face. Many people feel washing everyday makes your hair fall.This only happens if you’re using the wrong product, or too much of it, or too many rinses in the same wash. Then excessive washing may lead to dryness.  If you have a greasy scalp, please wash often and keep it clean as yeast thrives on excess sebum.

Whatever your hair texture or hair care needs may be, it is important to have your scalp clean, your skin clean  (as acne-prone skin leads to excess scalp sebum), and your hair well-hydrated through the lost Indian ritual of regular oiling.

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