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How to Achieve Healthier Hair

Updated on April 19, 2013

Is it even possible to have healthy hair?

Let me start out by saying yes! Every one can achieve healthy, manageable locks. Growing your hair long or just trying to improve the well being of your hair is a journey. It won't happen miraculously overnight. But don't let that discourage you. It is easier than you may think. In this article I will share with you the things I have learned over the years that have dramatically improved the health of my hair. With just a few simple adjustments, you can obtain the healthy locks that you desire. So let's get started!

This is a photo of an unhealthy hair strand, next to a healthy hair strand under a microscope.
This is a photo of an unhealthy hair strand, next to a healthy hair strand under a microscope. | Source

Should I really go sulfate free?

Sulfate free. It's been a term that has been tossed around the media recently, and it's leaving a lot of folks wondering, "What does that even mean?" and "Should I be going sulfate free?" Sulfates are detergents placed in shampoos and soaps to get rid of grease and oils, as well as to produce that lovely, soapy lather that we all enjoy in our shampoo products. So you're more than likely thinking, "Well it gets rid of grease and oil, that's good in a shampoo product right?" Well yes and no. And here is why. Your hair produces natural oils to coat your hair cuticles. That is the reason your hair starts to feel greasy if you don't wash it for a few days. When you wash your hair with a shampoo that contains sulfates, the sulfates work hard to strip that oil and grease from your hair. The problem is, if you are someone with drier hair like myself, you desperately need those natural oils to give your hair the moisture it needs. If you happen to be one of the fortunate ones who don't struggle with naturally dry hair, than a shampoo containing sulfates won't destroy your hair. But if you are prone to dry, brittle hair, than a shampoo with sulfates in it will continue to reek havoc on your precious strands.Sulfates strip your hair of those oils and leave your cuticles frayed and damaged. Whether you have to battle with dry hair or not, I would recommend a shampoo that does not contain harsh sulfates. When purchasing a sulfate free shampoo, most bottles will have the words "sulfate free" written plainly in sight. If you aren't sure if a product is sulfate free or not, read the ingredients on the back. The most common form of sulfate is probably Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, but anything with the word "sulfate' listed with it contains a sulfate. In my personal experience, making the switch to sulfate free has healed my hair tremendously. I used to dye my hair frequently, straighten it every day, and not take very good care of it. After years of putting my hair through hell, it was absolutely terrible. It was lifeless, damaged, and drier than the Sahara, My hair felt like hay, literally. I desperately wanted to grow my hair long, but it wouldn't move an inch past my shoulders. So I decided to cut it to just above the nape of my neck, and start from scratch. The first step was changing my shampoo from sulfate loaded to sulfate free. Let me tell you, if you walk away from this article remembering only one thing, remember that this is probably the thing that changed my hair the most. After just one use, my hair was full of life! Being a skeptic, I doubted that just one product could make a difference on my hair. But I was absolutely shocked with the results, My hair looked and felt healthier, moisturized, and manageable. You can find sulfate free shampoos where ever you can find regular shampoo, and it's usually around the same price. I would very highly suggest switching to a sulfate free shampoo as soon as you possibly can!

photo of a wide tooth comb.
photo of a wide tooth comb. | Source

Rethinking how we brush our hair.

Brushing our hair has become so routine, that we don't even think about how we're brushing our hair. If we want to restore our hair from the inside out, we have to start with the basics. There isn't anything terribly wrong with using a brush, but it isn't exactly great for our hair either. Hair brushes tend to tear roughly through the hair, causing breakage and split ends. Instead of using a brush, try using a wide toothed comb. They glide through the hair much easier, thus reducing breakage and damage. They also help coat your hair strands with those lovely natural oils we talked about earlier. Brushing our hair is also a huge no-no when our hair is wet. Hair is the most vulnerable when wet, so brushing it in the shower, or right after is going to cause damage to the hair. I would recommend just leaving it alone and letting it rest after a shower, but if you must detangle during or immediately after a shower, I would use a wide tooth comb. How we brush our hair can be imperative to the overall health of our hair. Most people start brushing at the scalp, and drag the brush downwards through the ends. Brushing your hair this way will result in frayed ends, and dry looking hair. When brushing your hair, brush downwards starting from the ends, then gradually moving closer and closer to your scalp. This will help reduce breakage and split ends.

Hair straighteners.
Hair straighteners. | Source

Is using heat to style my hair really that bad?

Um, YES! If you've heard from countless hair stylists, beauty blogs, and hair care experts to stay away from heated styling products, it's because it is entirely true!!!!!! Heat does an extreme amount of damage to your hair. Hair is very, very delicate, so a high amount of heat on your tresses will harm them. Your hair is vulnerable to damage at 200 degrees. So if you are using your straightener or curling iron any higher than that, it's getting more and more damaged each and every time. And even if you're using your heating tool at a lower degree setting, your hair is still getting damaged. There is no way around it. Heat+your hair= damage. If you use a heat protectant ,that reduces the damage a little. But in the long run you are still causing some level of destruction to your hair. I know what you're thinking, because I thought it as well. "There is no way I can stop using my straightener." This was the toughest step in my hair care journey. My hair is naturally frizzy and wavy, so I felt that my hair looked unacceptable if it wasn't straightened. But once I stopped straightening, I noticed an immediate difference. My hair wasn't as frizzy and out of control as it had previously been in the past. The texture of my hair had improved to the point where straightening wasn't necessary every day. Every now and then I want the straight look, so I'll straighten it using a heat defense spray. But the less I straightened it, the more I realized that having my hair natural wasn't as catastrophic as I had imagined. I didn't start out going natural 24/7. I just wouldn't straighten it once or twice a week here and there, and let myself adjust to the change. Now I love just letting my hair do it's thing. If you're like me, you will benefit from using a frizz control serum to help tame the frizz and fly-away's. I also apply some mousse when my hair is damp, so that when it dries it has some controlled waves without having to use heat. I would suggest staying away from the styling tools for just two weeks, and seeing how much your hair improves. Experiment with some mousse or serums; try to find a way to make your natural style work.Trust me, your healthy hair is worth the effort.

hair, skin, and nails vitamins
hair, skin, and nails vitamins | Source

Vitamins.

Vitamins are another thing that can help the health and growth of your hair. Taking vitamins such as Biotin, Folic Acid, or Hair, Skin, and Nails, will definitely give your hair the health boost it needs. I recommend the Hair,Skin,and Nails vitamin, because it contains multiple ingredients including Biotin and Zinc that will benefit your hair. It is always a good idea to consult your doctor before you decide to consistently take any vitamins. I have been using Hair,Skin,and Nails for 6 months now, and it has increased the speed in which my hair grows. Before taking this vitamin, my hair would grow about 2 inches every 3 months or so. After taking this vitamin, my hair steadily grows 1/2 to 1 inch every single month. My friends and family, even my hairdresser are surprised by how fast my hair has been growing. I highly recommend taking a daily vitamin containing Biotin, Zinc, or Folic acid for hair health and growth. Just make sure your doctor gives you the go ahead.

In and after the shower.

There are a few things that you can do in the shower that will help you achieve your healthy hair goals. The first thing is washing your hair with cool water. Washing your hair in cold water is good for your hair because it helps lock in shine and moisture. It doesn't need to be uncomfortable cold, just a little cooler than lukewarm. Here's what you do. Apply and rinse your shampoo, (sulfate free remember!) in cool water. Once you are ready for your conditioner, apply it like usual. When you are ready to rinse, begin rinsing with warm water. About 30 seconds or so. Then switch to the cool water while you rinse out the rest of the conditioner. This is why this works: rinsing with warm water opens up the cuticles of your hair, while cold water seals them. So if you rinse out your conditioner in warm water for a few seconds it will open up the cuticle, encouraging the cuticle to soak up every ounce of moisture. Switching to the cool water seals the cuticle and adds shine, while keeping all that moisture locked away inside your strands.

The second thing is deep conditioning. Deep conditioning about once or twice a week will give your hair that extra moisture it requires to stay healthy. After applying shampoo and conditioner, massage in a deep conditioner at the ends only. If you apply any kind of conditioner to the scalp, it will weigh it down and make it feel oily. I try to apply my conditioner to the area next to my ears and down to my ends, paying the most attention to the ends of my hair. I recommend leaving in the deep conditioner for about 5 minutes. If you are trying to save money, using your regular conditioner and leaving it in 5 to 7 minutes will work just fine. If you prefer to purchase a separate deep conditioner, you can find them pretty much anywhere you can find hair care products. Most Deep conditioners will say "Deep Conditioner" right on the bottle. So they aren't hard to find at all.

I recommend doing two things after you get out of the shower as well.The first thing is not towel drying your hair. Drying your hair using a towel can dry out your hair, cause fly aways, and draw out all that moisture that you just worked so hard to get in your hair. After I am done showering I just tilt my hair to the side, and gather all my hair to one side. Once all my hair is to the side, I grab my hair in one hand, almost like I am about to put it into a side ponytail. Then I slowly pull down my hair, pushing further and further down my hair until i get to the ends. I do this about 2 to 3 times. This usually gets most of the excess water out of my hair.

The second thing I advise you do after a shower is apply some type of split end repairing serum. I recommend using the Diamond Shine split end remedy serum. Once my hair is damp, I apply a pea sized amount of the split end serum to my ends. Using a split end product on your ends will dramatically reduce the appearance and occurrence of split ends. I have been using a split end product on my ends for about 4 months, and it has kept my ends very healthy. Even my hair dresser noticed that my ends had very few split ends.

If you follow the above recommendations to the best of your abilities, you will notice your hair becoming healthier in no time at all!

Final thoughts.

I hope I was able to provide you with some helpful tips on getting the healthy hair you've always wanted. I have been doing all the things I've recommended you to do, and I swear by them. I was so frustrated with my dry, damaged hair, and I was convinced that it was hopeless and that there wasn't anything I could do about it. After I adopted these hair care principles into my life, my hair has improved drastically. I finally have the easy to manage, healthy, gorgeous hair I have been striving after. Getting your hair to grow or get healthy takes time and patience. You won't see miraculous results over night. Don't get discouraged if you don't see progress immediately. Just do what you can to assist your body in growing healthy hair, and let your body take care of the rest. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you have. Good luck on your hair care journey!

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      Chid 3 months ago

      What does one do if you are forced to use sulfate shampoos because of psoriasis

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