Is your hair looking dull and unhealthy? Are you getting more hair fall lately? Maybe it’s because you aren’t taking care of it enough, or maybe you are taking care of it the wrong way.
Shampoo commercials always exaggerate how beautiful your hair will be when you use their product, but these commercials will remain what they really are: exaggerated. The truth is that naturally beautiful hair cannot be achieved by just using one product; it requires patience and a few simple steps.
Wondering how to build an effective natural hair care regimen? Here are 5 steps anyone can do to achieve naturally beautiful hair.
Step 1 – Apply oil to your hair regularly
Applying oil regularly can help promote healthy hair strands and also boost hair growth, as well as protect hair from dandruff and pollution. There is a wide variety of oils that can be applied to hair but beauty experts recommend using coconut oil, preferably organic and cold-pressed. Other oils that can be used are macadamia nut oil, neem oil, and even olive oil.
Oiling hair is popular because of the following benefits:
- It prevents moisture loss from hair.
- Using coconut oil can help make hair more resistant to breaking during washing or styling.
- Oil enhances softness.
You can oil your hair by following these steps:
- Heat about 3-5 tablespoons of coconut oil. If using a microwave, set the timer to a maximum of 10 seconds.
- Massage a moderate amount of oil onto the scalp before going to bed. Don’t forget to wear a shower cap so the oil won’t soak into your beddings.
- Leave the oil on your hair overnight. This gives the oil enough time to work its magic.
- After waking up, leave the oil on for another 30-40 minutes before rinsing it off in the shower.
- Towel dry your hair. Brush it once it’s dry to evenly distribute the oil.
If you don’t like the idea of leaving oil on your hair overnight, it’s best to let the oil soak for 1-2 hours before washing it off. If your hair tends to be greasy, it’s also best to not let your hair soak in oil overnight. If you do decide to leave the oil overnight, washing your hair twice can help prevent greasiness.
For sensitive hair, it’s best not to use tea tree oil or neem oil as it might cause reactions on sensitive scalp.
Step 2 – Brush your hair using a wooden brush
While it may sound insignificant at first, but the way you brush your hair and even the type of brush you use has a dramatic impact.
Wooden brushes are sworn by many because of their quality and how effective they are in distributing natural oils evenly on the hair. The following are a few more benefits of using wooden brushes.
- Wooden brushes have bristles that are very porous, effectively absorbing natural oil from the scalp and distributing it to other parts of the hair.
- Using a good quality wooden brush massages different pressure points along the head, improving blood circulation, and therefore promoting healthy hair growth.
- Compared to metal or plastic brushes, wooden brushes don’t produce static.
- A wooden brush is made from smoothened wood, so hair glides easily over it. This means lesser chances of hair getting tangled and lesser chances of breakage.
- Wooden brushes have rounded bristles, which is more ideal for sensitive scalp.
- The wood and rubber materials of wooden brushes make it a sustainable hair tool. Wooden brushes also last longer compared to plastic brushes, which are harmful to the environment.
To make brushing smoother, comb out any tangles or mats using your fingers or a wide-toothed wooden comb. People would normally brush their hair from scalp to ends, but some people recommend brushing from the ends to the scalp. Others find it relaxing to flip their hair over and brush from the nape of the neck down to the ends.
Step 3 – Avoid (or minimize) any heating
Heat styling has been a popular go-to styling method for most hair enthusiasts, as heat makes hair easier to shape. It’s also the easiest solution to straightening out those unruly waves or adding bounce to an otherwise volume-less hair. Because of its convenience, more women prefer the instantaneous effects of heat styling rather than sitting long hours on a salon chair.
However, as hair becomes continuously exposed to heat, the higher the chances of it becoming dull and lifeless. This is why avoiding (or minimizing) the use of heat styling is recommended for natural, well-maintained hair.
Here’s what you can do about heat styling.
- Start in the shower
Use good-quality conditioner in the shower to strengthen and moisturize your hair, then rinse in water that’s between normal to slightly cold. Avoid brushing when hair is still wet; towel dry your hair first before using a wide-toothed comb to remove the tangles before brushing.
- Always protect your hair before styling
Before using heat tools, make sure to use products that are specially formulated to protect the hair from heat. A heat protectant spray will likely be sufficient as it creates a shield of heat protection on each hair strand. Others recommend using a heat protectant cream as its effect can last up to four days without the need to reapply.
- Use tools that have adjustable temperatures
There are lots of generic heat styling tools being sold that do not have adjustable temperatures. Every person has hair that’s different in thickness and texture from others. This is why you should only use tools with adjustable temperatures.
- Avoid heating for too long
Stylists use heat tools quickly, only allowing their clients’ hair to stay under the heat for a few seconds. This is because hot irons have the tendency to burn hair when left on for too long.
- Switch to air-drying your hair
To reduce the amount of time your hair spends under a heated blow-dryer, try air-drying your hair and only resort to blow-drying if you absolutely have to.
Step 4 – Use natural hair products
The best rule of thumb when looking for natural hair care products is to look for those with the fewest ingredients. This would mean examining the labels not only to look at what the product can do for your hair, but to read the list of ingredients. If you want an all-natural hair care product, you might want to be wary of the following ingredients:
- Artificial fragrances
- Diethanolamine (DEA), momoethanolamine (MEA), and triethanolamine (TEA)
- DMD hydantoin and imdiazolidinyl urea
- FD&C color pigments
- Mineral oil
- Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
- Propylene glycol (PG)
- Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Other than the fact that they negatively impact hair growth, these ingredients are known to cause allergic reactions, slow cell development, and some are even carcinogenic. While some symptoms may not display up front, most people wouldn’t risk waiting until the long-term effects appear.
On the other hand, here are what natural hair care products should have:
- Aloe vera – a natural ingredient that can help treat some scalp problems and also promote hair growth
- Avocado / avocado oil – contains vitamins A, D, E, and potassium
- Castor seed oil – a humectant (aids in moisture retention) and also has anti-fungal properties while aiding in hair growth
- Coconut oil – aside from acting as an emollient, it also improves shine and strength
- Extra virgin olive oil – another emollient that helps lock in moisture in the scalp and hair
- Honey – a humectant that is also anti-bacterial
- Jojoba extract – helps balance the production of oil in the scalp, preventing the hair from turning greasy
- Shea butter – high in fatty acids and acts as an emollient, locking in hair moisture.
- Tea tree oil – an anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic in one. It helps treat dryness of the scalp.
- Vegetable glycerin – known for retaining moisture in the hair
Step 5 – Maintain a healthy diet
The last and most important step of all is to maintain a healthy diet that’s full of nutrients. It is true when they say what is seen on the outside is a reflection of what’s inside. Brittle and dull hair may be caused by dehydration or a deficiency in nutrients, which is why food and supplement intake is just as important as the previous steps mentioned.
Below is a list of important nutrients that will help you maintain naturally beautiful hair.
- Vitamin A – helps produce sebum—an oil-like substance that helps moisturize the scalp and aid in hair growth. Foods rich in Vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and some animal products such as eggs, yogurt, and milk.
- B-vitamins – aids in biotin production, which helps boost hair growth. Other B-vitamins like vitamin B3 can improve blood circulation, while vitamin B5 can help prevent early greying. B-vitamins can be sourced from almonds, whole grains, fish, meat, and dark, leafy greens.
- Vitamin C – this is a powerful antioxidant that helps eliminate free radicals from the body. It creates collagen, which is an important part of hair and skin structure. It also helps the body absorb iron, which is a vital nutrient for hair growth. Vitamin C can easily be found in citrus fruits, strawberries, guavas, and peppers.
- Vitamin D – deficiency in this vitamin leads to alopecia—a medical condition where hair falls out in large patches. Vitamin D helps create the follicles on which hair would grow. Aside from direct sunlight, Vitamin D can be sourced from cod liver oil, mushrooms, fatty fish, and other fortified foods.
- Vitamin E – also considered an antioxidant that boosts hair growth. Vitamin E is found in avocados, spinach, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
In addition to these vitamins, it’s also helpful to maintain a diet rich in iron and protein—two more nutrients known to keep the hair healthy.
Each person’s hair is different so following these steps to the last detail doesn’t guarantee fast results. Maintaining naturally beautiful hair requires patience and commitment to following the first four steps and more importantly, the fifth and final step. As long as you follow these steps, you won’t have to rely too much on salons just to achieve those naturally beautiful locks.