Healthy Hair Naturally
When I was a little girl, I had lovely, thick, straight, shiny, long hair. Most kids have pretty nice hair because we haven’t tortured it with color, perms, straightening, curling irons, hair dryers etc.
I was in 6th grade when I decided to get my hair cut into a short, feathered style (oh so 80’s). I happened to be just going through puberty at the time. This was very bad timing on my part-I just didn’t know it. Overnight my beautiful hair became one giant ball of frizz. I remember being with my mom’s best friend and she was playing with my hair saying, “there must be something we can do to fix this.” It took 33 years.
I tried every product on the market. Once my hair grew out, it wasn’t much better. It was like pubic hair around my face, curly on the sides, wavy in the back and straight underneath. It also generally had a large halo of frizz. In high school I resorted to getting perms to even out the textural differences in may hair. Thank goodness big hair was in when I was in High School.
I went to college in Arizona and my California friends introduced me to the straightening iron. (Thank you Stephanie, Karen, and Melissa ). I will never forget sitting in their apartment and getting my hair flat ironed. It took me a while to get the hang of it but it was a game changer-until I went back to Ohio for the summer and the humidity just frizzed it out again.
Post college, mid 90’s, I found Japanese straightening treatments. I had very flat, very straight, very damaged hair. I continued these treatments regularly (about every 6 months), along with blow drying, straight irons, and toxic products. The treatment would change every few years from the japanese straightening to the Keratin straighteners. Little did I know that these treatments were not only loaded with toxic chemicals but how much they would damage my hair.
In my 30’s my hair began to break, was frizzier than ever, wouldn’t grow past my shoulders, and was incredibly fragile and dry. It was pretty much a disaster.
When I finally started learning about toxic chemicals in products, I stopped getting my hair professionally straightened and I stopped using toxic products. It has taken at least 2 years (my hair has always grown incredibly slowly) to get my hair to where it is now. While it isn’t the lovely silky straight hair of my youth, it is certainly healthy, thick, shiny and soft. I can actually wear it curly without it being a frizzy mess. I still straighten it with my flat iron but not as often. It lasts longer between shampoos because it is so much healthier. And my hair is actually growing and not breaking. My hairdresser is astonished every time I sit down in her chair. She can’t believe the difference. Want to know my secret to naturally healthy hair?
Ditch the toxic products. All of them. From shampoos, conditioners, product, straighteners and color. There are great alternatives!
Most shampoos contain sulfates. Sulfates (SLS or SLES) are what makes shampoos foam. Sulfates are incredibly toxic. But they may also cause hair loss, damage, dryness and reduce the ability to grow hair. They often cause skin irritation and trigger allergies. They can also cause depression and diarrhea. If you get your hair colored, they strip the color too. What the heck are these things doing in shampoos?
Silicones like dimethicone and other ingredients ending in -cone are found in many frizz controlling products. Silicones are endocrine disrupting chemicals. "Silicone will weigh the hair down making it limp, lifeless, and with time, very dull. It prevents moisture from penetrating the hair shaft and becomes like a magnet for dirt and other ingredients. So in essence, we get a good shine for a couple of days, but over time it will attract more buildup on the hair. With time it will dry the hair out because it won't allow in the conditioner and it ends up sitting on the surface. Due to lack of moisture, the hair will become very brittle and could lead to frizz and breakage.” —Shai Amiel, Celebrity Hairstylist & Owner, CAPELLA Salon.
Formaldyhyde releasors are found in most straightening treatments. They may not be listed on the ingredient labels because they occur when a product is made or mixed. They are dangerous to inhale and dangerous to put on your scalp and hair. I am sure by now you have heard about the issue with these treatments.
There are tons of other toxic chemicals to avoid in hair products. Please read my article on toxic chemicals to avoid to learn more. These chemicals are not only bad for your hair, but bad for your health.
My favorite products:
Shampoos and conditioners:
Clarifying shampoos. Acure Organics.
This is the sweetest smelling, safest, clarifying shampoo I have found. I do a lot of oil treatments and I need this to remove an greasiness without stripping my hair. It is only $9.99 too!
All around great shampoos and conditioners:
I generally rotate between Pure Haven Shampoo and Conditioner and BeautyCounter Smooth and Control Shampoo and Conditioner . I also mix in some Acure Organics Shampoo and Conditioners occasionally. All of these brands work on pretty much all types of hair. I have found that most safe shampoos and conditioners last longer than their toxic counterparts. This is not only because of the better ingredients but because most drug store products are filled with water so you need to use more-not so with any of these. A little goes a long way with these products.
Dry shampoos: I go back to Acure organics for this one too. It works great and is inexpensive too. They have one for darker hair too.
Styling Products: I was loving the Pure Haven styling cream but alas it is no longer. I have been using the Beautycounter repair and nourish split end serum and then I rub Argan oil through my hair once its styled to help prevent frizz.
If I wear my hair curly, I apply pure haven detangler (it's also a leave in conditioner) and some argan oil when my hair is wet.
My 4 year old and 19 year old daughters both use the Pure Haven Detangler regularly. It is great at detangling and as a leave in conditioner.
If you need more volume (try beautycounters volume shampoo and conditioner) or want a sexy, slept in look or beach look, I recommend Beautycounters' Sea Salt spray or the volume mist.
I have been obsessed with the magical power of essential oils and we use them around our home everyday (but that is a whole other blog post). I do make my own oil treatment using EO’s. The base of my treatment is Organic Unrefined, hexane free Castor Oil. Castor oil is naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal and is high in Vitamin E, minerals, proteins, and Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids. It’s unusually high ricinoleic acid ratio makes it beneficial to skin and hair. The ricinoleic acid help increase scalp circulation, helping hair grow. It’s antibacterial and anti-fungal properties help combat dandruff and other scalp issues. It is extremely moisturizing and can help reduce frizz and make hair stronger and healthier. It can also be used on eyelashes and brows.
In a bottle with a nozzle tip, I fill the bottle half way with Castor Oil. Then I squeeze in some Organic Pomegranate Seed oil, Organic Jojoba oil, and Organic Argan Oil. I buy a lot of these great oils at Mountain Rose Herbs. You can pretty much add whatever oil you like. The oils I chose are all known for their benefits for skin and hair. From there, I add in my EO’s. EO’s are very concentrated and should be used carefully. A few drops of them is all you need. I add Rosemary, Tea Tree, Lemon, and a bunch of others. You can use the oils based on what you are looking for-growth, dandruff treatment, damage etc.
I apply it using the little nozzle right onto my scalp first. Then I really massage it into my scalp with my fingers for maximum blood flow. I usually do this when my hair is dry. Once it is in my scalp, I get some into the rest of my hair-especially the ends and gently comb it through. It goes up in a non damaging pony tail and I usually am on my way out to my favorite hot yoga class at Harbor Yoga. Yes, I go to yoga with oiled up hair. The heat in the room and the body heat I produce in class make the oil really penetrate my hair much like a hot oil treatment. Plus, yoga is actually good for hair too. Doing inversions has been proven to help with scalp circulation thereby helping hair growth. I also always do an oil treatment if I am going into a sauna and especially before I get into a swimming pool. Another great time to do the oil treatment is before bed. Put it on and put a towel over your pillow case. You can also mix the oil in with your favorite too.
If your scalp is oily but your hair is fried, avoid putting the oil on your scalp and just really massage it into the rest of your hair. You will need a clarifying shampoo to remove any left over residue. This oil is thick. Using the Acure Organics Clarifying Shampoo will not take away the benefits of using this fabulous treatment either.
Boar Bristle Brushes:
Remember in the olden days when they used to tell you to brush your hair 100 times before bed? It is probably because they had the benefit of a natural boar bristle brush. These brushes really help distribute the oils on your scalp and into your hair. They increase circulation, remove dead skin (exfoliation of the scalp) and actually help you go longer between shampoos. Try to avoid brushing your ends and really get into your scalp. Make sure you don't pull or tear through your hair. Slow, even pressure is key. If you have a lot of hair, section it off and do a section at a time. It feels really really good.
Silk pillow cases: Silk pillow cases actually help keep your hair style in place because they cause less friction than cotton pillow cases. Cotton pillow cases absorb moisture while silk pillowcases keep the moisture in your hair so you hair doesn’t dry out. Super added bonus-silk pillowcases help prevent wrinkles too.
Try to avoid washing your hair everyday and try going at least 3 days between washes. Use a dry shampoo and brush with the boar bristle brush.
Don't scrub your hair dry with a towel when you finish showering. This rips, pulls and tangles your hair. I gently wrap my hair in an aquis hair towel which helps absorb the moisture and reduces drying time.
Never use a hair brush on wet hair! Your hair is incredibly vulnerable to damage when wet. Use a wide tooth comb and if you hair is tangled, start slowly from the bottom in small sections and work your way up through the angel. Never pull it. I also like a wet brush for when I brush or style my hair. While they are designed for wet hair, I try to avoid using them when my hair is wet and use them on damp hair during blow drying or when styling.
Always check with a medical professional before starting supplements. While I prefer to get my vitamins from eating whole foods, it just doesn’t always happen. A healthy diet is key if you want healthy skin and hair. If you eat garbage all day long, no matter what supplements you use, your hair and skin will suffer. For my hair, I focus on a few great supplements besides a good multi vitamin. The bonus is that the vitamins that work for your hair are also great for your skin and nails too!
Collagen: Collagen During aging, hair and nails gradually become more brittle, hair breakage occurs, nails are thinner. This is, in part, a result of the reduced collagen production in the body. Collagen is a key component to new hair growth and hair quality. Supplemental collagen can increase the hair shaft, improve hair and nail growth, and improve its quality to reduce breakage during the life of the hair. Look for type I and Type III collagen. What you may see with regular collagen supplementation: Improved skin texture and firmness. Reduced appearance of cellulite. New hair and nail growth and improvement in quality and strength. Improved circulation which helps with hair growth. Liquid Collagen is my favorite source. It is more bio-available than a pill or even the powder. I take 1 tablespoon of liquid collagen twice a day. I use Modere Life Liquid Collagen. There is a skin version too but it contains wheat and I am gluten free. Both the Life and Skin version contain all the good ingredients for skin and hair plus its great for joints It not only has collagen but hyaluronic acid, resveratrol and other great ingredients like acai, noni, and mangosteen that are great for skin and hair and overall health. Use this link for $10 off your fist order www.modere.com/7977212. I also like to make sure I am getting a good vitamin C (bonus is that it is supposed to help boost immunity too) to help with absorbency of the collagen.
A hair multi vitamin:
This is a combination of vitamins and minerals that are good for your hair. Things such as Biotin or Silica. My go to is MegaFood Skin, Nails and Hair. It is a vegetarian whole food supplement with lots of great extras. I buy mine at Vitacost which has great prices on supplements.
A Fish Oil: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil capsules can also benefit your hair, making it shinier and stronger. Omega-3s are a healthy fat, helping to reduce skin dryness that can lead to dandruff or an itchy scalp. The natural oils that lubricate the scalp, hair and skin tend to lessen as we age. Again, fish oil also benefits your skin and has added heath benefits. I like Nordic Naturals brand because they don’t make you burp fish flavor all day. I am also loving Rosita Brand cod liver oil. Cod Liver oil is exceptional and high in vitamin A and D too.
My last hair supplement is Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Growth Supplement. I order mine from Target. It is clinically proven to thicken hair and help with hair growth. It does not contain any drugs. I ahve read many good things about Nutrafol but I have not tried it.
The transformation from damaged hair does not happen overnight. You may not see any new growth or even the start of healthier hair for at least 3 months. Do not give up! It will happen.