Keeping your hair healthy and helping it grow thick and long is not just a matter of knowing when to wash it, condition it, and cut it. How you wash it, what products you use, and how you style your hair are also important. The following will detail some easy tips and tricks you can use daily to help you grow healthier, thicker, and longer hair.
To Wash or Not to Wash?
Although you need to wash your hair on a regular basis, washing it too frequently can be just as harmful as not washing it often enough. Shampoo contains a detergent designed to remove dirt, oil and other hair products from your hair. Washing your hair too frequently will strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry, brittle, and prone to easy breakage. Because you need some natural oils to remain in your hair to protect it, you should only wash your hair every two to three days. The exception to this rule is if your hair is very oily or if dirty from like an intense workout at the gym. In this case, you should use very mild hair products.
Using a conditioner can help replenish your hair’s natural oils and leave it feeling smooth and looking shiny. Conditioners contain oils, which help hold your hair’s skin cells and seal the hair’s cuticles together, forming a smooth surface. This makes the hair look shiny and prevents it from frizzing or tangling.
For the best effect, you should use your conditioner every time you use your shampoo. Leaving your conditioner for two minutes while you shower is enough time for your hair to soak up nutrients and get all the benefits of conditioning. Leaving your regular conditioner in longer than 2 minutes can sometimes cause irritation. If you feel as though your hair is still dry after using conditioner, consider using a deep conditioner.
Deep conditioners with oils like jojoba, argan, and coconut helps to restore moisture and promote healthy hair growth. Deep conditioners are specially formulated to be left on for up to ten minutes. Experts recommend you also use a deep conditioner from time to time. Deep conditioning will add life to your hair, improving its elasticity and trapping moisture into each hair shaft. If your hair is colored, permed or artificially straightened, then a deep conditioner is essential to prevent damage to the structure of your hair. How often you use a deep treatment will depend on the overall condition of your hair. For example, if your hair is damaged from coloring or from using styling tools such as a hair dryer, flat iron, or curling wand, then you should deep condition once a week. If your hair is in relatively good condition, you can deep condition every other week.
Bear in mind that not all shampoos and conditioners are equal. Many of today’s haircare products contain harsh chemicals that can damage your hair and scalp, and may cause other health risks. For example, shampoos and conditioners that contain parabens (a form of synthetic preservative) which may affect the balance of your endocrine system. Over time, parabens build up in your body’s fat cells. This can have several negative effects on your health, including disrupting your body’s natural hormone secretions. For this reason, you should avoid hair products that contain chemicals such as parabens and phthalates. Instead, use products that contain all-natural preservatives such as essential plant oils, which can also help support healthy hair growth.
Many over the counter shampoos also contain harsh detergents called sulfates that strip away oils and moisture from your hair and scalp. They are very irritating and can cause inflammation leading to less than ideal hair growth. These detergents are often listed as sodium lauryl sulfate under the ingredients section. If your shampoo has this ingredient we recommend that you utilize a high quality conditioner afterwards with argan, coconut, or jojoba oil to restore moisture and support hair growth.
How you rinse your hair can also affect its condition. Rinsing with warm water has a different effect than rinsing with cold water. Warm water opens each hair’s cuticle, allowing your shampoo and conditioner to do its job. Rinsing with cold water helps to close the cuticle, sealing in the moisture from the conditioner and keeping your hair hydrated. So, ending your hair routine with a cool rinse will ensure you’re making the most out of your hair products.
Essential Oils for Hair Growth
Essential oils not only contribute to restoring your hair but also support healthy hair growth. Natural oils, such as sage, rosemary, and cedar wood, can help promote thicker hair because they help smooth hair cuticles, prevent the scalp from becoming dry, and improve the circulation of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles, all of which will result in healthier, shinier, thicker hair. It’s good practice to give yourself a weekly scalp massage using essential oils. Castor oil, olive oil, argan, jojoba, and coconut oil are also good carrier oils, and will help condition your scalp.
Healthy Haircare Practices
Along with taking care of how you wash and condition your hair, you also need to practice a healthy aftercare routine. Once you step out of the shower, don’t be too quick to reach for the towel to wrap your hair. It’s okay to gently pat your hair with a towel to remove the excess moisture but wrapping it in a towel or turban will put undue weight on your hair’s roots and can cause breakages. It’s much better to let your hair air dry naturally. If you have long hair and you must use a hair dryer, use it on a cool setting, avoid holding it too close to your hair, and don’t over-dry it. If you use a flat iron or curling irons, the best thing to do is to use a heat protectant.
Heat Protectants and How They Work
Most heat protectants contain silicones like dimethicone and cyclomethicone. These substances coat hair strands and protect them by lowering heat conduction while inhibiting water evaporation. Apply your heat protectant to your damp hair after deep conditioning. This will allow the protectant to penetrate the cuticle and bind with the hair shaft before you begin to style. Bear in mind that a protectant cannot completely save your hair from heat damage—it can only reduce the harm by up to 50 percent.
How to Untangle Your Hair with a Brush
How you brush your hair is also crucial for overall hair health and condition. If you have coarse hair that is prone to tangling, then you certainly do not need a densely-packed bristle brush. A paddle brush is the gentlest option for all hair types because the teeth are well spaced so they can get through your hair without tearing or breaking hair strands. Avoid brushing your hair when it is wet, because your hair is weaker when it is wet and brushing damp hair can break the hair shaft. If you’re in a hurry and you really must put your post-wash hair in order, then use a wide-tooth comb, as this is less likely to cause damage.
When you do brush your hair, you should brush from the bottom of your hair and gradually work your way up to your roots. This allows you to slowly untangle your hair along the shaft without yanking the follicle out from the root. The best way to do it is by separating your hair into horizontal sections and taming each layer until your hair feels smooth and silky, then moving on to the next layer.
While you’re brushing, pay extra attention to your roots and scalp. Don’t drag your brush or come across your scalp. When you get to the hair’s roots, gently draw the natural oils down from the scalp through the rest of your hair to disperse them evenly.
Hairstyles and Hair Health
Avoid tight hairstyles at all costs. Tying your hair into tight braids or ponytails during the day or at night will soon lead to traction alopecia, a form of hair loss caused by the weight or pulling force applied to the hair roots. Traction alopecia may be caused by tight braids, dreadlocks, hair extensions, weaves, and hats or helmets. Teasing is also bad for hair because it goes against the natural direction of the hair’s cuticles and can completely strip them from the hair shaft.
Regular trimming is another essential part of healthy hair care. Although they won’t make your hair grow faster, regular trims will certainly improve the way your hair looks and feels. Trimming removes split ends and reduces hair breakages, and makes your hair look thicker and shinier.
You may not realize it, but your pillow could be adversely affecting your hair health. If you wake up in the morning to find your pillow case covered in loose strands of hair, then your pillow case might be to blame. A linen or rough cotton pillow case can cause your hair to break during the night, especially if you’re prone to tossing and turning. Using a satin or silk pillow case will allow your hair to move more smoothly against your pillow and reduce breakages.
It’s not just your pillow that affects your hair health in the bedroom. The amount of sleep you are getting (or not) can also affect hair growth and condition. Sleep is the natural restoration period for your body, allowing it time to repair and rejuvenate. Sleep deprivation is a form of stress, and stress can cause hair loss.
Stress and Hair Loss
While it’s normal to lose around 100 hairs a day (on your pillow, brush, or in your shower), if you are losing more hair on a regular basis, you may be experiencing telogen effluvium (TE), a condition where stress causes the hair roots to enter the resting state of the growth cycle prematurely, which then leads to diffuse hair loss all over the scalp. In its acute form, the condition lasts less than six months. The onset of hair loss usually occurs quite rapidly. Stresses that can cause TE include pregnancy, change in diet, starting a new medication, and immunizations. Talk to your doctor if your hair is thinning all over in this manner.
Healthy Hair Nutrition
If you are keeping up with your healthy hair practices but still find it difficult to maintain healthy hair, you need to look at what you eat. Hair growth and condition has a lot to do with your diet. There are several nutrients that are vital if you want to maintain a healthy head of hair. A deficiency in any of them can result in hair thinning, breaking, and splitting.
Biotin: One of the most important nutrients for your hair is biotin. Biotin supports hair health by improving your hair’s overall structure. If your hair has suffered damage from hair styling tools, UV rays, and harsh chemicals, or if you are noticing that your hair is thinning, you may have a biotin deficiency. Food sources of biotin include whole grains, nuts, eggs, meat, and legumes.
Omega-3 fatty acids: This form of fat is vital for hair nutrition. Not only are omega-3s important for your scalp’s health as they promote circulation, they also support a healthy inflammatory response. Your body does not make omega-3 fatty acids, so you must obtain them from your diet. Food sources include avocado, flaxseed, eggs, walnuts, vegetable oils, and fish.
Protein: Your diet should also contain protein from diverse sources such as eggs, poultry, soy, lean beef, and legumes. Each strand of your hair is made from protein fiber. Without adequate sources of protein in your diet, your body will not be able to maintain a healthy hair growth cycle because your hair follicles will not be getting the nutrients they need. This can result in hair thinning and weakening.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is crucial for the development and maintenance of every cell in your body. It also plays a key role in the production of collagen, which helps to maintain your hair’s elasticity and prevents breaking and splitting. It can also promote fast hair growth. Food sources of vitamin C include cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits, guava, and strawberries.
B-Complex Vitamins: B vitamins, particularly niacin (vitamin B3), support several important bodily functions. It helps healthy hair growth by strengthening the hair shaft’s keratin structure. Food sources of niacin include chicken, turkey, peanuts, liver, tuna, and lean beef.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A supports healthy hair growth by promoting circulation to the scalp. Food sources of vitamin A include lean beef, carrots, spinach, kale, butter, eggs, and sweet potatoes. Bear in mind that too much of this vitamin can have negative effects on your hair by overstimulating hair follicles, which pushes hair to the end of its growth cycle prematurely. Too much vitamin A causes hair to thin and fall out because your hair follicles are unable to create new hair quick enough.
Iron: Your body needs iron to produce red blood cells. Iron deficiency leads to anemia, which reduces the ability of red blood cells from transporting oxygen throughout the body efficiently. Because your hair depends on iron to deliver oxygen to the hair follicles, iron deficiency can lead to hair loss.
The Value of Nutritional Supplements for Hair Growth & Thickness
Getting the right balance of nutrients to support hair growth and overall health can be tricky, especially if you are following a special diet, if you are trying to lose weight, or if you have recently been ill. The best way you can ensure you’re getting all the essential nutrients you need for hair growth is by taking a daily nutritional supplement. When you’re choosing a supplement for hair growth, there are three important factors to bear in mind:
- Quality: Make sure the pills are made by a professional manufacturing company.
- Additives: Make sure that the supplement contains no artificial preservatives, flavorings, or coloring.
- Spectrum: Make sure the supplement has a full range of nutrients combined in a proprietary formula that will support total hair growth.
No matter how many shampoos, conditioners or styling products you use or how many haircuts you have, not one of these is an all-inclusive solution for hair growth. If you want the best results you need to combine healthy hair care practices with an appropriate diet. Hair follicles need nutrients to grow strong and stay healthy. If you’re not getting enough of these nutrients, then your hair will soon be adversely affected. Therefore it’s important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and/or take a daily nutritional supplement, so you can provide the nourishment your hair follicles need to grow stronger, longer, healthier looking hair. Check out our HairOmega® line of hair care products for optimal hair growth.