Featured Image: Shay Mitchell
Article By: Shealynn Waller
Between cleaning, laundry, chores, running errands and taking care of the family, who has time for self-care? When everyone else needs our help, we forget to take care of what our own body needs. Our hair is sometimes our pride and joy and can hold much of our identity. The color, texture and overall look have an effect on how we see ourselves, how others see us and in turn how we interact with our world. If our hair is so important, why don’t we give it the attention it needs? Life gets insane in a hurry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have beautiful hair. Here are four easy ways to help you get healthier hair.
Organic or Natural Shampoo and Conditioner
Instead of buying a cheap shampoo with a pretty bottle, look for a shampoo that has essential oils and proteins like Keratin. The oils help build back up your hair’s natural oils and assists with hair growth, while proteins moisturize and protect against damage from styling products.
The main purpose of shampoo and conditioner is to clean the hair from excess oils and bacteria and then condition it to be soft. The problem is that most products also come with preservatives and chemicals to help the product last longer. Your hair may feel good after, but in the long run, your hair will break easier and become brittle faster. Split ends will be more of a common occurrence which can only be fixed by a hair trim. If you’re trying to grow your hair out, you may find that it gets to one length and then stops. This is because the hair is not getting it’s necessary nourishment on the scalp to help it grow. By switching out for a more natural based product, your hair is more likely to grow and stay healthier overall.
The way we dry our hair can be one of the most damaging parts of our daily routine. Scrubbing with a towel can pull moisture from our roots making them weaker, and scraping our hair against each other makes it brittle. Blow drying hair can do even more damage. Any moisture or natural oils are fried away under heat, leaving the hair dry and more likely to fall out.
Try squeezing the hair with a towel instead of scrubbing it. Allow the water to leave the hair slowly, starting from the scalp and moving down to the ends. If you are in a rush and need to blow dry, use a lower setting and separate your hair into three layers and blow dry starting at the bottom layer and moving to the top. Use your fingers to brush through the hair instead of an actual brush.
What if I don’t have time to shower?
Another way to dry your hair without adding unnecessary damage is by sleeping with damp hair. Shower at night and pat until it is only damp and not wet. Then braid the hair back in big braids. While you sleep, your hair will soak up the moisture and be soft, clean and shiny in the morning. There are also great instructional videos online for different ways to braid at night that, when taken out in the morning, produces naturally wavy or curly hair without needing to style. Experiment with different things and find what techniques work best with your hair.
Leave in Conditioner
Instead of showering every other day, try using a leave-in conditioner. When the hair begins to get too oily and heavy, wet your hands and run your fingers through the hair, focusing mostly on the roots. Apply small amounts of leave-in conditioner to your hands and run them through your hair again. Make sure to focus on the roots since that’s where most of the oil your hair produces comes from. Afterward, either let the hair dry on its own or pat dry with a clean towel.
The conditioner cleanses and nourishes your hair without the time commitment of a shower. When looking for a product, check the ingredients again and try to find something with either protein or essential oils in it. However if the product is primarily oil based, use it sparingly. If you add too much to your hair, it will only drown your roots in oil. The results could be a sticky or “gross” feeling to your hair. Leave in conditioner should be used in small amounts to give your roots a “pick me up”, not a baptism in moisture.
The most damage we do to our hair happens when styling. Some women have horror stories of their hair burning off from an iron left on too high of a setting or fried hair because of a straightener. Using heating products like straighteners and curling irons fries away moisture and leaves the hair dry and malnourished. It may be soft for a day or so, but the long-term effects can lead to split ends, brittle hairs and dried roots.
Instead of styling your hair, try to learn different ways of braiding, different kinds of buns and other twisting techniques. There are countless tutorials online for ways to style your hair without ever picking up a straightener. The purpose is not only to help you discover creative ways to style your hair but also to help your hair grow and heal on its own. You don’t want to do up-does every day as it puts a strain on your roots, but by taking a break from heated devices, your hair gets a break.
What if I have to style my hair?
If you don’t have the option of not using some kind of styling product or you like the way it looks too much to not use them, try doing a deep conditioning treatment every two weeks to fight the damage. Most stores that carry beauty products have hair masks, treatments or products specifically for damaged hair. There are also recipes available online for DIY treatments. One of my favorites is a mixture of yogurt, honey, and olive oil. The oil helps with nourishment for my roots while the yogurt and honey provide proteins, a soft after-feel, and a great smell.