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For those who would like to improve the look and condition of his or her hair or the health of the scalp, a hair steamer can be a handy tool to use. Traditionally used in hair salons to give customers smooth, shiny hair, there are smaller and generally more affordable units available for home use as well. The hair steamer emits hot, but not scalding, steam through a hard-shelled bonnet that fits over the user’s head, leaving the hair soft and smooth in a matter of minutes.
A cap is sometimes recommended when using a hair steamer, but whether or not to use one is largely a matter of personal preference. Some users find the steam too hot without some type of protection, while others claim that the cap interferes with the steam's ability to penetrate to the roots. As a general rule it is usually recommended to use the steamer without a cap if possible for the best results, but the choice remains largely a matter of personal preference and comfort.
To operate the hair steamer, water is added to a reservoir before the steamer is plugged in. This water is heated to produce the steam that comes out through the bonnet, providing steam and moisture to the user’s hair. Only distilled water should be added to the reservoir, as tap water can have chlorine or other minerals in it that can leave sediment, possibly shortening the life of the equipment.
Clean hair is recommended when using a steamer, to help make the hair as moist as possible without layers of hairspray or other products that can get in the way. Hair steamer manufacturers generally suggest that the user apply a moisturizing product such as coconut or other oil to enhance the efficacy of the treatment. The heat from the steam allows moisture to penetrate deeply into the hair and scalp, aiding in the control of dandruff and dry, flyaway hair.
The first part of the steam treatment uses only hot steam, opening pores and follicles and stimulating blood flow to the scalp. During the final 10 minutes of the treatment, the steamer temperature is reduced, allowing cool mist to blow onto the user’s head. This helps to close all the open pores and follicles and hold in all of the extra hair and scalp moisture from the initial steam treatment. Upon completion, the user is typically left with smooth, shiny hair. Dandruff problems may be controlled or even eliminated with consistent use of a hair steamer.
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