I took Mom to have her hair cut last week and I must say, I am amazed at what they’re not teaching in cosmetology schools these days.
Face it folks, the hair you see is dead once it leaves the follicles in your scalp. If it weren’t, the entire world would be walking around with their hair dragging on the ground. It would be entirely too painful to cut it! Once the hair shaft is damaged there’s not much you can do to repair it. Split ends must be cut off. All those products on the market for split ends are nothing more than “glue” to hold the splits together.
It’s very normal to lose 50-75 hairs per day. The follicle goes through a regeneration process every 2-7 years and even though the hair falls out, a new one is growing in its place (pushing the old one out). As you get older, some of the follicles naturally stop producing hair which is why many older people have thinner hair than they did in their younger days. Alopecia (pattern baldness) is hereditary and you can delay or stop hair loss by keeping healthy before it starts. The healthier the hair as its growing, the healthier it’s going to look when it comes out of the follicle. You also have sebaceous (oil) glands in your scalp which keep the hair lubricated. Oily hair is really oily scalp – simply too much oil being secreted by these glands and traveling along the hair shaft. You do want some oil to keep the outer cells of the hair shaft smooth so don’t try to get rid of all of it.
So, as your mother has been telling you for years, beauty begins on the inside. As always, drink plenty of water and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, ensuring you’re getting enough Vitamins A and E – two very essential vitamins for the health of your skin, hair and nails.
Outside, there are several things you can do to have a nice head of hair:
1. Cover your hair when you’re outside. Sun, wind and air pollution are all damaging to hair. Hair, although very strong for as thin as it is, can be easily damaged by the elements.
2. Use a comb, not a brush, on wet hair. And, don’t yank the comb through the snarls! This will simply stretch and break the hair and cause a split end. Work the snarl out with your fingers (or very gently with the comb) from the bottom up.
3. Try not to blow-dry your hair. This has the same effect as sun and wind … drying. If you must blow-dry, try to dry to damp instead of all the way dry and let nature take care of the rest of it. However, if you use a curling iron or hot rollers, be sure the hair is completely dry before curling or you’ll literally cook the hair shaft.
4. Vanity aside, coloring your hair is bad. Especially bleaching. Not only will you damage the hair shaft but over time, the chemicals will kill the follicles in your scalp. If you must color, go darker and use a vegetable-based dye such as henna. No, it’s not going to last as long or cover as completely but you’ll maintain a healthier head over the long term. (A bonus for not coloring … once you do go gray, it will be gray or white, not yellow.)
5. Use the mildest shampoo you can get away with. All commercial shampoos are detergents and not only will they get rid of the dirt, they’ll strip off the natural oils your scalp produces. Unless you have a very oily scalp, baby shampoo with some essential oils added should work fine. Wash your hair as little as possible – every other day or less if you can.
6. If you have dandruff, try to isolate the cause. It very well could be something in your diet. A food allergy is a very common cause. A good B-complex vitamin (including biotin) will help.
Like many, I would love to make my own shampoo but don’t have the time to do so. Adding a few drops of essential oils to store-bought shampoo can counteract some of the effects of using a detergent on hair.
Make your own hair rinse. If you have dark hair, you can make an infused cider vinegar rinse (blonds and grays, don’t use this unless you want to go darker). The herbs will help your hair and the cider vinegar will get rid of the last of the detergent shampoo without drying your hair out. Once you’ve got your infused vinegar, dilute it 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water before use. (I use a sports water bottle so with the nozzle, I can get it all the way down to my scalp.) Leave the vinegar in as a final rinse to dry – the smell will dissipate on drying. If you don’t want to smell like a salad dressing for a few hours, duck your head under the water once to get rid of most of the vinegar smell. Be sure to use an old, dark-colored towel to dry your hair. The cider vinegar will stain it over time.
If you don’t want to use vinegar, make an herbal tea to use as a final rinse.
Sage is a good conditioner
Fennel is another good conditioner (leaves my hair just like cream rinse – no tangles)
Parsley good for dandruff
Chamomile helps promote hair growth and will brighten light-colored hair
Rosemary great for dark hair, conditions the scalp and lessens oil production
Nettle treats dandruff; is also used to treat baldness
Lemon a good scalp conditioner and will lighten hair
Thyme a good dandruff treatment and will cut down oil production
Mint energizes the scalp
Calendula great for redheads – makes the hair gleam
Lavender can help condition the scalp if your hair is dry (not enough oil being produced)
Geranium same as Lavender
Mint Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) is good for dandruff
If your hair is damaged, try one of these once a week to somewhat smooth the hair shaft and encourage stronger growth:
Mayo pack: add about 5 drops of Lavender or Clary Sage essential oil to 1 cup mayonnaise (the real stuff, not salad dressing). Massage into the hair and scalp and let it sit for about 20 minutes before washing your hair.
Avocado conditioner: mash up an avocado (or put it in a blender) and use that as a conditioner prior to your final rinse.
Protein Gel: mix 1/2 ounce plain gelatin and 1 cup mineral water until the mixture is smooth. Allow it to sit for a few minutes until it becomes gel-like (it won’t be completely “set”). To that, add 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, 3 drops Carrot oil and 3 drops Clary Sage essential oil. Massage into the hair and scalp. Leave it on for 10 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
In closing, bear in mind that hair grows about 1/4″ a month (less in some people, more in others). So, it will take some time to see results of nourishing your hair follicles.