In a recent study, some helmet wearer reported occasional itchiness that becomes so severe that it temporary distracts them whilst riding. Not a good idea! So how can helmet wearers ditch the itch? What's available and do 'membranes' or bandanas help? Let's start from scratch (no pun intended!)
Helmet linings contain a gradual build-up of bacteria - no matter how hard you try to remove it. You would never wear a shirt or blouse over and over again without washing it. Helmet wearers subject themselves to very high concentrations of bacteria by placing the lining of their helmets in direct contact with their hair and scalp.
This is the cause of itchiness and irritation, as the bacteria infiltrates microscopic lesions in the surface of the scalp; a helmet wearer scratches with their finger nails or another utensil. The micro-lesions become worse and so too does the problem; usually whilst the helmet is being worn or immediately afterwards.
The purpose of a shampoo is threefold:
To cleanse the hair and scalp;
To improve appearance of the hair; and
To improve and facilitate management of the hair.
Unfortunately, shampoos are good cleansing agents but not particularly good at maintaining optimum hair appearance or facilitating hair management. This is where the need for a conditioner arises.
Different shampoos contain different surfactants (cleansing agents); often more than one. These vary in their effectiveness as cleansing agents, but even more so in the condition in which they leave the hair. Sometimes shampoos are too effective and remove all the sebum or natural oil. Conditioners are then used to replace this lost oil to a certain degree with various artificial substitutes which remain on the hair.
Not All Shampoos Are The Same
Shampoos are made for normal hair, fine hair, dry hair, greasy hair, damaged hair, sunny climates, swimmers, and even medicated for such conditions as dandruff.
Others may be made for the exacting needs of Afro-Caribbean hair. It is most essential that you select a shampoo for the right hair type - normal, dry, greasy or damaged (over processed). If in doubt, your hairdresser will tell you which class you belong to. (There is just a possibility that some hairdressers will be slightly biased when it comes to admitting that hair is over-processed!)
Market research has shown that opinion on shampoos is very subjective. A shampoo which one person regards highly will be instantly rejected by someone else. Often, the shape of the bottle, the perfume, or even the colour is the deciding factor, and manufacturers know this. From the consumer's point of view, this really is not very sensible. You should choose your shampoo carefully and reject it if it does not suit completely. Do a little experimentation and then stick to the one that suits you best.
There is no need to keep changing your shampoo once a satisfactory product has been found.
Lather is an issue not well understood at all. People like lather, and shampoos often contain substances to stabilise the lather. Lather is not essential to effective cleansing.
What Do Shampoos Contain?
Shampoos are fairly straightforward products, although some appear to have many more ingredients than others. Generally, a long list of ingredients merely suggests duplication of ingredients (for example, three preservatives instead of one). The major ingredient is always water.
Shampoos will nearly always contain two surfactants for cleansing purposes, and possibly a separate lather stabiliser. There will usually be one or more humectants, the function of which is to attract moisture and impart this to the hair.
There will be a number of substances the principal function of which is to coat each hair, making it smooth and shiny whilst also keeping the moisture in.
These vary from simple oily or waxy substances to complex chemicals which attach themselves to the hair electro-statically. In recent years, silicone compounds such as dimethicone have become very important for this purpose. And finally there will be perfume and preservatives. It is not unusual for a shampoo to contain several preservatives.
Shampoos are amongst the safest of all cosmetic products, partly because they are diluted, and partly because of their short contact time. Their ingredients are generally remarkably safe and unlikely to cause allergy or sensitisation.
If a given shampoo does cause allergic problems, it will almost certainly be due to the preservative(s) or perfumes it contains. If this is the case, then you are just as likely to be allergic to many other shampoos on the market, and you must seek expert advice - preferably from a registered trichologist.
Shampoos can cause eye irritation, and all such products should be kept out of the eyes. Lack of obvious irritation does not mean that no actual eye damage is occurring, but few shampoos are entirely safe if they get into the eyes. Very occasionally, problems such as matting of the hair can arise because of interaction between your shampoo and other hair care products, or even other shampoos. Such reactions are extremely rare.
You are advised to try to obtain all the hair care products you require from one manufacturer's range. When some strange and often distressing reaction involving hair damage occurs due to simple cosmetics, it nearly always involves the use of products from more than one manufacturer, each quite safe if used on its own or within the manufacturer's own range.
How Often Should You Shampoo Your Hair?
How often you should shampoo your hair is a matter of debate. How often you wash your hair is a purely personal decision. If you are in very dirty employment, or you perspire profusely from physical activity, you will obviously wish to wash your hair frequently.
Hair itself cannot be washed too often (it is up to you), and shampoos certainly do not cause hair loss though some do help reduce the amount of daily loss that occurs. You will often notice lost hairs when shampooing, but these are simply natural losses which would occur anyway.
Help For Helmet, Hat And Headgear Wearers
M-GEN Shampoo has been formulated by trichologists specifically with wearers of helmets, hats and headgear in mind. M-GEN uses a high-quality; low irritancy surfactant which gently cleanses the hair and scalp without removing the lipid barrier (which protects the scalp from infection).
M-GEN also contains an anti-irritant and anti-dandruff agent which is highly effective yet very gentle. Additionally M-GEN contains no synthetic colours and only organic preservatives.
Regular use of this product achieves optimum condition of the hair and scalp.
Two-in-one products (a shampoo containing conditioning agents) are an attempt to address today's busy lifestyle and the increased frequency of shampooing. At best, two-in-one products represent a compromise dictated by the market demand. There is absolutely no doubt that better conditioning is usually achieved by the application of a separate conditioner or cream rinse.
However, this does not imply that a good two-in-one product is unable to provide a satisfactory level of conditioning for many people. Modern ingredients such as silicones have enabled satisfactory two-in-one products to be formulated. The choice is dictated by your needs and the expert advice you receive. Price should not be a consideration.
In most instances, the common belief that two-in-one products cause a build up of deposits on the hair is false. The principal conditioning agent in most products cannot be deposited in a film more than one molecule thick! Silicones, which are often blamed for causing such deposits, are for the most part thin, oily liquids and quite incapable of causing such a problem.
Shampoos are occasionally employed as a vehicle for medication, although this is generally limited to anti-dandruff or anti-psoriasis medications. Generally, the aim is not to cure but to control the condition. Most medications applied in this way, including antiseptics, take time to act. You may be advised to leave medicated shampoos on your scalp for up to 15 minutes before rinsing off. (This refers, of course, to the diluted shampoo after it has been worked up into a lather.) M-GEN shampoo mentioned below takes only three minutes to be effective.
When micro-organisms on the scalp are reduced by medication, the numbers are generally restored within a matter of days. When using a medicated shampoo such as an anti-dandruff preparation, you will obtain a far better response if you use it initially every night for five to seven nights, and then revert to a normal frequency of use (unless you are instructed otherwise by your doctor, trichologist or pharmacist).
Generally, this intensive approach is perfectly safe for products bought off the shelf, but should not be adopted without specific advice if the product is sold to you by a pharmacist or prescribed by a doctor. (Such medication may contain stronger or more dangerous ingredients.) Do not adopt this intensive approach (shampooing for several nights in succession) if your shampoo contains coal tar or salicylates, or is recommended for psoriasis.
Shampooing Technique Using your shampoo
Let your hair hang naturally when shampooing. Do not pile it up on top of your head. Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water in preparation for shampooing.
When shampooing, use only the minimum amount of water. This is particularly important when using medicated shampoos. You are likely in any event to dilute the shampoo (and its ingredients) some 15-30 times. Getting this right is largely a matter of practice.
There is no need to apply shampoo twice as some people do. Modern shampoos are formulated to keep the removed dirt in suspension, and rinsing will then remove all dirt.
The most important aspect of shampooing is to ensure adequate and thorough rinsing. Always rinse your hair under running water and rub it as little as possible at this stage. (Lather performs an unintentional but useful function in helping to ensure adequate rinsing, as lather is difficult to remove completely and takes much rinsing out.)
Always keep shampoos out of the eyes. The danger is not simply one of irritation (stinging). Certain shampoo ingredients can actually harm the eye. Because a shampoo does not sting does not necessarily mean it will not damage the eye.
Professional opinion used to recommend two applications of shampoo. This is perfectly safe but, as stated above, it is not usually necessary with modern day shampoos. Only if the hair is very dirty indeed, or 'loaded' with hairdressing products such as setting gels or oily pomades, should double shampooing ever be necessary.
If your hair is heavily coated with hairdressing products and a film has built up, special stripping shampoos with greater cleansing power are available. These should not be used too frequently.
Drying Your Hair
Using a clean dry towel, carefully pat your hair dry.
Whilst the hair is still damp, carefully untangle the hair with a wide-toothed comb.
If possible, allow further drying to occur naturally.
Only use a dryer on damp, towel-dried hair, and use the lowest setting.
Always switch off the dryer before your hair is completely dry.
If blow drying, keep the dryer moving continuously and do not concentrate the heat in one spot.
Conditioners Why a conditioner?
A conditioner makes the hair shinier, smoother to the touch, more easily comb-able, minimises fly-away hair, and helps to maintain the moisture content. Modern products also dissipate static electricity and may protect the hair from the harmful effects of excessive sunlight. (The addition of UV - ultra violet - screens is currently very fashionable.)
At a more professional level, conditioners may be used before hair processing, and possibly after, to minimise the slight damage which all hair processing produces to a certain degree.
Many people do not appreciate that even combing and brushing can be damaging to normal hair, and even more so if hair shaft defects or excessive fragility are present.
The longer the hair is the more vulnerable it is and the longer it will be exposed to these procedures. Conditioners leave the hair smoother and reduce the friction occurring during combing. By preventing matting and knotting of the hair they make combing and brushing an altogether easier and safer procedure.
Long hair takes more force to comb and longer to comb. Because of the time it remains on the head, any damage caused is cumulative and is worse towards the end of the hair. Long hair should always be conditioned.
What A Conditioner Will Do For You
In addition to detangling hair (rendering it more manageable), a conditioner will give hair a sleeker, healthier appearance. The conditioner coats the hair shaft, causing the cuticles to lie flat, enabling it to reflect light. The hair appears shinier. The conditioner also serves as a protectant to the cuticles and hair shafts, while sealing in moisture. Many will attract moisture from the air. Conditioners reduce combing friction and the force required when combing.
M-GEN Shampoo is the creation of Ahead Solution who specialize in inner-helmet science and is available from www.menthogen.co.uk