We all dream of having luscious, healthy and shiny hair. It may seem impossible to achieve, but with a bit of effort and care, your hair can be beautiful and soft.
Taking care of hair requires a few steps and a bit of knowledge about the topic. Let’s start with explaining what exactly hair is (sounds obvious, we know) and why it even grows.
Hair is made up of two parts: the hair follicle and the hair shaft. The hair follicle anchors the hair into the scalp, keeps it in place and is made up of the papilla and bulb, which are located beneath the scalp. The bulb can be found at the bottom of each strand and contains active cells which grow the hair around the papilla. The papilla provides the blood supply to the hair follicle for healthy hair growth.
The hair shaft is the hair you can see that grows out from the follicle which is made up of a hard protein called Keratin and a protective layer called the cuticle. There are around 100,000 hair follicles on the scalp, so it’s totally normal and okay to lose up to 100 hairs a day.
Hair grows in three cycles:
- The Anagen phase – this is the period of growth. The cells in the hair bulb divide very quickly and create new hair growth. It actively grows from the roots for an average of 2-7 years before hair follicles become stable. The hair can grow anywhere from 18-30 inches. The length of this phase depends on your hair type and maximum hair length.
- The Catagen phase – the second phase of your hair growth cycle. It’s quite short and typically lasts about 2-3 weeks. In this phase hair stops growing and detaches itself from the blood supply and is then called a club hair.
- The Telogen phase – this is the final stage. This phase starts with a resting period, where club hairs rest in the root while new hair begins to grow beneath it. It lasts for around 3 months.
After this cycle, the resting club hairs fall out and allow new hair to grow. Each follicle is independent and has its own growth cycle at different times.
There are some rules you should also follow that will help you achieve your hair goals.
Sulfates are in the ingredient lists of 90% of hair products and are known as skin irritants, hormone disruptors and suspected gene mutagens. They are common because they’re inexpensive and effective at cutting through oil. Look for SLS, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate or ammonium laureth sulfate in the ingredients and avoid them as much as you can.
Don’t wash your hair too often
Wash your hair every 2-3 days to keep your natural hair oils at a normal level. It has more volume and body when it isn’t washed as much. If you have hair that gets oily quickly, try to get your hair used to not washing it and wait about two weeks for your oil levels to be regulated. If this doesn’t work, try using dry shampoo for the days when you don’t wash your hair.
Avoid colouring hair
Hair dyes can be pretty damaging to the hair. They damage the hair and strip it of its natural oils. For natural lightening use lemon, honey or chamomile tea. You can also add some lemon juice to water and mist it all over your hair. The tea can be used to rinse your hair, while the honey can be added to the water you use to wash your hair. Don’t repeat this too often though since it can dry out the hair.
Always use heat protectant
If you use heating tools a lot, you should always use some type of protectant that keeps your hair from being damaged and prevents split ends. Heat protectants are usually available in spray form, serums or lotions. They also add shine and silkiness to your hair. If you can, try to avoid heat products in general.
Avoid hot water
Wash your hair with warm water, or even cold. Hot water can make your hair dry and brittle and strips it from its protective oils. Water temperature should be a bit warmer than your body temperature. A good idea is to rinse your hair with cold water after washing it and rinsing out the shampoo.
Visit your hair stylist once every 3-4 months to trim off your damaged ends. Split ends are super common which is why you should be trimming them at least a few times a year for healthy and strong hair. Split ends occur because of heat damage and improper hair treatment. If you like cutting your hair at home, remember to use special scissors for this purpose.
Conditioning the hair
Conditioners work by smoothing down your hair so it looks smooth and shiny again. Shampoo opens the hair’s cuticle, while conditioner seals it back up – this is what locks in nutrients. Conditioners also prevent breakage, split ends and even hair loss. They allow you to easily brush through your hair and leave the hair smelling and feeling healthy. By not using conditioner, you leave your hair dry and prone to breakage.
Proper application of condition:
Step 1 – Take a tiny bit of conditioner on your palm.
Step 2 – Start applying it from your neck’s nape all the way to the ends of your hair, using your fingers to comb it.
Step 3 – Leave the conditioner on your hair for a few minutes. Some conditioners are leave-in conditioners which means they shouldn’t be rinsed off.
Step 4 – Use warm water when rinsing out your conditioner.
Step 5 – Once you’ve washed out the condition, use cold water to rinse the hair and to add some extra shine.
Step 6 – Never squeeze the hair too hard when drying it. Blot it gently with a towel.
Try to air-dry your hair instead of blow-drying it.
Harmful ingredients to look out for in hair conditioners:
- Sulfates : their job is to make products foamy and they work as emulsifiers – they keep oil and water from separating in conditioner. SLS and SLES are known skin and eye irritants. SLS is not a cancer-causing ingredient, but the ethoxylation process used to make SLES causes the ingredient to release 1,4-Dioxane, a carcinogenic contaminant. Sulfates are also penetration enhancers that change the epidermis. This means other chemicals in the product can more easily penetrate the skin’s surface, making their way into our organs and bloodstream
- Ehtanolamines: MEA, DEA, and TEA are used in hair care as emulsifiers and foaming agents, but have been associated with cancer in animal studies. They also pose accumulation risks and form carcinogenic compounds when mixed with other cosmetic ingredients. They mainly cause skin inflammation and irritation
- Synthetic preservatives: Most hair conditioners contain some sort of synthetic preservative. Parabens have been shown to mimic estrogen in the body and accumulate in breast tissue. They are also shown to have the potential to cause fetal impairment and fertility issues. Methylisothiazolinone is even linked to allergic reactions and may also be a neurotoxin. If a product claims to be “paraben-free” do not assume it contains no synthetic preservatives
- Dimethicone: This one is commonly found in conventional hair conditioners, and it does make hair silky and shiny. Until the product is washed out and you are left with more dryness and damage to your silicone-dependent hair. Silicones coat strands and prevent the hair from drawing in moisture. It also traps sebum on the scalp, resulting in irritation, flaking, or itchy scalp
- Synthetic fragrance: These ingredients are linked to irritation, headache, dizziness, eye irritation, allergic reaction, and hormonal disruption. Watch out for these ingredients in products: benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP), di-n-butyl phthalate or dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), and sometimes “fragrance”. It is important to note that the terms “fragrance” or “parfum” sometimes occur on an ingredient listing which contains natural fragrance ingredients and no chemical ingredients, so you must watch out for this
When looking for a conditioner to buy, aim for ingredients like argan oil, aloe, green tea, coconut oil, rosemary oil, tea tree oil, etc.
Josh Rosebrook Balance Conditioner
This is a light, volumizing conditioner formulated for all hair textures, especially for those will a normal to oily scalp. Pure plant oils and active herbal infusions effectively soften and increase volume. Aloe vera and rich fatty acids seal in moisture, smooth, add shine and protect the hair shaft, scalp and follicle.
Nurture My Body Nourishing Conditioner
A sulfate-free, gentle conditioner that works amazingly on all hair types including dry, color-treated and damaged hair. It contains 16 certified organic botanicals and essential oils that help maintain a healthy scalp. It’s great for curly hair since it controls frizz and detangles hair that is hard to manage. It also provides antioxidant benefits and protects hair while adding softness and shine. Let’s not forget that it’s fragrance-free and contains only vitamins and organic ingredients.
St. Tropica USDA Certified Organic Coconut Oil Conditioner
This truly potent USDA certified organic deep conditioning treatment works amazingly for curly and ultra-dry hair. To use, you simply heat the packet up to temperature and then apply the formula to your hair. Leave on for at least 20 minutes (overnight works best) and rinse. Made with coconut oil, biotin, horsetail, hibiscus, green tea, and coconut butter.
100% Pure – Yuzu & Pomelo Glossing Organic Conditioner
A nice lightweight conditioner suited for all hair types. It adds just the right amount of shine and hydration without weighing hair down or making it oily (perfect for curly hair types). Works great as a detangler and leaves hair feeling silky, smooth, and easy to run your fingers through. Best of all, it is made without any sulfates, synthetic fragrances, or harsh detergents. Features organic aloe juice, yuzu fruit, coconut oil, and avocado.
Organic conditioners are the best option for maintaining smooth, soft and shiny hair. Test them out and see how amazing they are. You’ll never go back to your old conditioners filled with toxins and harmful ingredients.