If the lockdown has convinced you to cut your own bangs, tie-dye your clothes and bake focaccia bread, whipping up DIY hair masks and oils in the kitchen is another fan-favourite. But, before you mix up your own elixir, here are some common mistakes you might be guilty of already. We spoke to Dr Harshna Bijlani, Medical Head of the Ageless Clinic and Delhi-based dermatologist Dr Kiran Sethi for the most common issues that may crop up, and the best ways to solve them.
You’re not doing a patch test
Here’s an important rule to go by when it comes to your hair as well as your skin—always test a new ingredient or product on a small patch of your scalp or skin first. This same advice stands for natural ingredients like aloe vera too—one that may seem harmless at first glance. “While aloe vera is a natural ingredient and commonly used in skincare, what we don’t realise is that a considerable fraction of the population could be allergic to it and could get dermatitis from it. So if you’re going to start anything new, as natural as it may be, please do a patch test or check with your doctor beforehand,” confirms Dr Bijlani.
You don’t dilute too-strong ingredients
Tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar and essential oils are all pretty popular components of a good hair mask, but only when diluted properly. If not, these too-harsh ingredients can lead to burns, irritation or even more hair fall. “People are literally burning their scalp with apple cider vinegar. It is a dilution of 1 tablespoon in a glass of water—always follow this,” says Dr Sethi.
You’re using ingredients that may not work for most hair types
While lemons or oranges are popular DIY haircare remedies, both doctors suggest that it can cause irritation to sensitive skin. Since they’re so acidic in nature, they can disturb the natural pH of your scalp, leaving hair brittle and dry in the process. Another side effect? It can lighten areas of your hair too, leaving you with an inadvertent and patchy colour job. Honey, another popular addition, may not work for those with fine or thin hair, as it can weight them down, leaving it looking more stringy than lush. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are also common offenders that can cause redness and irritation.
You’re not paying attention to your hair type while oiling your strands
“While oiling your hair is not a bad idea, you need to first understand your scalp. If you have an oily scalp, then your hair does not need this extra oil—all it will do is block your pores,” confirms Dr Bijlani. “If you have a dry scalp then you can use oil but don’t overdo it to the extent where you have to use excessive amounts of shampoo to then remove it. Over-shampooing your hair and the constant friction caused by it can lead to further hair fall and damage your hair quality,” she says.
You’re getting too overzealous with the massage
A stimulating scalp massage once or twice a week is all you need to step up blood circulation, which will result in stronger and healthier hair growth. “If you aggressively massage the scalp, your hair will fall. A gentle massage involves more stimulation than rubbing and should be no more than 5-10 minutes,” advises Dr Sethi.