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Myth or Fact:

Does hair build ‘tolerance’ to products?

It is a common belief that hair and skin grow tolerant, and in some ways immune, to the topical products we place on them daily. Some believe that the solution is to switch products regularly to reactivate our curls and the way they react to products. 

The Verdict

"Hair can't tell the difference between brands or build up tolerance to any product," says London-based hair and scalp expert Philip Kingsley.

And since hair isn’t actually “living,” it can’t really build a tolerance or an immunity to products you use. However, there are certain factors such as product build-up and the weather, changes in eating and exercise habits, living conditions, and even, stress, can make for changes in how products react when you use them.

“Dry, humid or wet weather can change the way your hair feels and behaves, and an accumulation of chemicals on the follicle and hair shaft (if you color, relax or use thermal styling tools) may make it seem like your shampoo and conditioner aren't doing their job,” says NY dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD.

What to do now? First off, and most important, you must use products that don’t strip your hair of it’s natural pH balance. According to Essensuals Hairstylist Joanna Barrientos, a natural pH balance for hair is a 5-5.5.  When your hair becomes brittle or too dry, products will react differently. Keeping hair moisturized and healthy is vital.

Use a gentle, clarifying shampoo to exfoliate once a week so you rid of product build up and massage your scalp well too. “If you do this occasionally, you can go back to the shampoo and conditioner you loved and will likely see restored results,” states Dr. Peredo.

Next, pay attention to changes in your working and living enviormnents as well as changes in the weather and seasons. When the warmer weather is upon us, you should take into consideration the humidity and sweat your body produces. During cooler months and colder temperatures, there’s more dry heat in our surroundings and a need to give our hair more moisture and assistance in replenishing natural oils.

If you have any chemical processing done to your hair, you should also consider these as factors for using products and possibly noting changes. “Coloring, highlighting, relaxing and perming all affect the fundamental properties of your hair, says Gray. If you’ve had one of these chemical processes, you may need to add deep-conditioning treatments, including masks, to keep your hair in tip-top shape,” says hair expert, John Gray.

Maintaining a healthy diet and getting the necessary amount of water, rest and regular activity, in addition to these suggestions will aide in keeping your hair looking it’s best.

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