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Ten Tips for Healthy Hair

Updated on July 4, 2013

How to get Healthy Hair

Hair is a barometer of good health - shiny, bouncy hair is an outward signal of vitality and of course, vitality esentially comes from good diet and exercise, so if you really want good hair, eat well and move!

From a scientific perspective, hair is a filamentous biomaterial - which basically means it is a chain of proteins. A single strand of hair has three layers:

  • The cuticle - overlapping, flat cells
  • The cortex - rod-like clumps of keratin(a protein) within the cell
  • The medulla - the empty, innermost layer of the hair shaft

The cuticle is the most outwardly vulnerable part of the hair, as it can be easily damaged by rough treatment, heat, chemicals and overexposure to the elements. However, poor nutrition, hard living(drinking, smoking etc) and ill health can have a deleterious effect on the the cortex, causing limp, brittle hair and other problems, which is why good hair health begins first and foremost on the inside. Good nutrition will promote stronger hair and faster growth. Similarly, lack of activity means less blood flow to the head, while exercise promotes good circulation and thus a better movement of essential nutrients to the hair.

In addition to food and exercise, there are some handy tips and tricks to increase shine and make those crowning locks look their best, so read on for some tried and tested advice!

Source

#1 Foods for Healthy Hair

Fresh food, rather than supplements is the best way to deliver nutrition to the body and some of the best foods for hair health are rich in omega 3 - fish, walnuts, ground flaxseed, olive oil and avocado. For vitamins A and C, which help with healthy sebum production, go for spinach, tomato, broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and citrus fruits. Lastly beans, lentils and all the legumes will provide protein for strength and growth.

# 2 Go Easy on the Shampoo

Most commercial shampoos are essentially detergents, so overdoing the washing could strip your hair of its natural oils. When you shampoo, only lathering the roots, where it's needed and not the ends, will minimize over-washing and harsh rubbing of the delicate tips. When you rinse, the shampoo will run down to the ends anyway and provide all the cleaning your hair will need. This small adjustment to your routine can really make a difference.

Avocado for healthy hair
Avocado for healthy hair

#3 Conditioning

it's important to use conditioner after a shampoo, not so much for the exaggerated claims made on the bottle but simple because it facilitates easy combing of wet hair and thus less breakage. However the biggest mistake people make is to use too much - when it comes to conditioner less is best. You only need a tiny dab, applied to the ends off the hair.

If your hair is a little dry and lacklustre, it's worth doing a weekly rich conditioning treatment, however, avoid rich conditioners if your hair is oily as they will be likely to weigh it down and worsen the condition. Oily or dry - try the home made treatments below for a conditioning boost.

Dry Hair Conditioning Treatment

cup of coconut milk
over-ripe banana
an avocado

Blend banana and avocado in a food processor until smooth. Mix in coconut milk and gently rub the mixture into hair. Cover the hair in plastic wrap and wait for 10 to 15 minutes for the hair to absorb the mixture. Shampoo out and notice the difference in softness and shine.

Oily Hair Conditioning Treatment

cup of flat beer
one egg
teaspoon of sunflower or canola oil

Mix ingredients together and apply to hair for 10 to 15 minutes. This treatment will add bounce and shine to oily hair without weighing it down.

#4 Brushing and Combing

Always comb hair when it is wet - never brush, as it causes breakage. If you condition properly after shampooing the comb should glide relatively easily through the hair. Wide toothed combs are best. It's fine to brush hair when it's dry but don't overdo it - that old tale about brushing your hair 'one hundred times a day for shine' is a myth. The truth is, the more stress and pressure you put on your hair, the more likely you are to do damage.

Pure bristle brushes set into a rubber cushion are very good but some stylists recommend a brush with both nylon and bristle, mixed together - the bristles are good for stimulating the scalp and the nylon for detangling.

#5 Cutting and Trimming

There is no better thing you can do for your hair's healthy appearance than to have it trimmed regularly. It doesn't have to be much, even a 1/4 of an inch every six to eight weeks will help keep split ends at bay. If you're trying to grow your hair long, trimming is still advisable to promote healthy growth. Since hair grows on average at a rate of one quarter to half an inch a month, with a 1/4 inch trim every six to eight weeks, you'll still be ahead, whereas letting it grow without trims will lead to inevitable breakage and in the long run, impede growth.

Long, healthy hair requires maintenance
Long, healthy hair requires maintenance | Source

#6 Heated Appliances

Overuse of heated appliances such as blow dryers, curlers, straighteners etc can damage the delicate cuticle over time, so minimise the use of these where possible. The hotter the appliance, the more likely the damage. If you invest in a good cut, you really shouldn'y need to do to much fussing and styling with your hair, however if you must use heated stylers regularly to maintain the style you want, there are a number of protective products on the market which coat the hair and minimise the rough effects of heat.

#7 Environmental Protection

The elements can also have a damaging affect on hair - wind, sun, salt water etc. Wearing a hat outdoors will prevent damage and help save your skin as well. If you spend a lot of time in the surf and sun, there are products available which contain sunscreen to protect hair from overexposure to the sun.

Chlorine can be a problem for those who regularly use swimming pools, especially if you have colour-treated hair. Short of wearing a swimming cap, the best thing you can do here is to buy one of the protective products, purpose designed to protect hair. Avoid swimming for at least a week after you have chemically processed your hair to minimise a reaction with the chlorine and always rinse hair thoroughly after swimming.

#8 Using Hair Product

Don't be persuaded to think you must use hair product on your hair - sometimes it looks better without it. Healthy hair shouldn't require loads of help. Remember, the hair product industry is a multi-billion dollar one - using all it's considerable advertising power to convince you that their gel, spritz or lotion is a must-have. Well, not necessarily. It may help but it's not essential for great looking hair.

As with conditioner, many people make the mistake of using way too much styling product on their hair, making it gluggy and dull. Better too little than too much. You only need a very small amount to cover the hair and always rub the product in your hands first, to emusify.

Shine serums, waxes, gels and mousses can all enhance your hairstyle but not if you overdo it. Also be sure to use the right product for your hairtype. If your hair is very oily for example, you're not going to benefit from applying a greasy gel. Better no product at all than the wrong one.

#9 Scalp Massage

You know that relaxing feeling when you are getting your hair professionally shampooed? You just lay back with your head over the basin, while the hairdressers hands move gentle over your scalp, massaging and rubbing.

A gentle head massage is a great thing to do for hair - not only is it relaxing but it helps to relieve tension, boost circulation and stimulate healthy growth. You do it yourself every time you shampoo but there's no reason why you can't do it while you're watching TV . Hold the hands like a claw and move your fingers in a circular motion around the scalp - including the base of the neck and low on the forehead.

#10 Quick Fix Shine

For hair that is looking particularly dull and lifeless, here's a few on the go tips for a fast solution:

  • Try adding an egg to your shampoo for a quick protein lift.
  • Gently rub your hair in a downwards motion with a pure silk scarf to get some shine happening
  • A quick rinse in the shower with apple cider vinegar will remove any product build-up that may be causing dullness
  • Add a teaspoon of baking powder to shampoo for a squeaky clean, shiny finish
  • For hair that is excessively oily, try a small amount of cornflower or talcum powder rubbed into the roots, then brush to disperse.

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