If you've been tangled up in your social media feed, enviously scrolling through an endless stream of photoshopped models with shiny tresses, you're probably wondering how you can ever get rid of your dry, damaged and dull bedhead.
While genetics plays a key role in the appearance of your hair, things like diet, weather, pollution, hair care, overconsumption of alcohol and excessive stress can all have an impact on the state of your crowning glory.
It's not all doom and gloom, though: With a proper hair care routine, you can bounce back from your bad hair day and take the next step on your journey to a sleek, bouncy and manageable head of hair. Even if you're hiding your face behind a mask, with a bit of nourishment and nutrition, you can flaunt your flowy locks and be the mane attraction at every gathering!
NATURAL HAIR CARE 101
First things first: toss out the toxins and jump on board the natural beauty train as I guide you through a crash course on natural hair products.
Although conventional shampoos and conditioners may clean the hair effectively, their harsh chemical ingredients can strip your scalp's natural oils and cause skin irritation, dryness, deterioration of the hair follicles and hair loss. Natural cleansing products are gentle on the hair, scalp and skin, and can be used without the concern of these potential side effects.
Due to the absence of synthetic foaming agents, natural hair products won't produce as much lather as conventional shampoos. However, that doesn't mean your hair isn't being properly cleansed; rather, it is an indication that your natural oils aren't being stripped from your scalp. While the initial switch to natural beauty products might not make your head feel as squeaky clean, the long-term use of gentle formulas may help your hair to hold on to its natural oils for a softer feel and an enhanced natural radiance.
Natural ingredients in hair products can gently provide the vitamins, minerals, oils and botanical extracts your scalp and hair follicles need. From stimulating new hair growth to enhancing overall texture and hydration, common naturally moisturising ingredients like almond oil, ginseng oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil and aloe vera are especially great for enriching your hair with a generous helping of nutrition.
Natural shampoos and conditioners are also environmentally-friendly. The harsh synthetic chemicals found in conventional hair products are replaced with eco-friendly, natural and biodegradable ingredients that won't pollute our waterways or cause damage to natural ecosystems. Natural hair care products are mostly also:
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Made with a pH-balanced formula (this ensures that the product isn't too acidic or alkaline)
The transition period can take a few days, a couple of weeks, or a few months before your hair adjusts to the feel of the new natural formula and stops feeling waxy or weighed down. Initially, your scalp will over-produce natural oils to compensate for the oils that were stripped when you were using conventional chemical shampoos. After your hair adjusts and the residue of the old products is long gone, your scalp may end up producing less oil than it did before switching to natural beauty products, looking healthier, bouncier and glossier.
Now that I've covered the benefits of natural hair care, let me jump straight to the hairy bit: how best to take care of your hair!
Summer is here, and after a long year you might be feeling more than ready to let down your hair and have some fun in the sun. Here are a few hair care dos and don'ts to help your luscious locks stand a head above the rest…
- Wash your hair regularly. The frequency of shampooing depends on your hair type and texture, the level of your physical activity, and personal preference. If you have oily hair or an oily scalp, wash on alternate days; if your hair is extremely dry, try to wash two or three times a week.
- Opt for chemical-free products. Try to buy gentle shampoos and conditioners that are free from sulphates and parabens, and that are well-suited to your unique hair type.
- Apply conditioner. This hydration hero is a crucial step after every shampoo wash, and can help to protect against environmental aggressors and heat styling.
- Mask up. Not only should you wear a mask on your face, but your hair should also be nourished with a conditioning mask once a week. A hair mask can offer deeper hydration and repair, leaving your hair looking lush and shiny. Leave in a heavy-duty conditioning product for up to an hour before rinsing.
- Be gentle with wet hair. Wet hair can be extremely fragile and prone to breakage. Use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to gently detangle the knots. Traditional towels are rough on your hair cuticles, which is why towel drying can cause plenty of damage over time. One of the latest haircare hacks is to use a soft old t-shirt to scrunch up the excess moisture from your hair gently. You can wrap your hair in the t-shirt and leave it in for a while to dry naturally. This method causes less damage to your hair, and is a great companion to air drying.
- Treat your hair to pre-wash oils. Coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil, and argan oil treatments contain nourishing minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids that help strengthen your roots and restore the moisture content of your hair to help combat split ends.
- Get regular trims. We all hate this piece of advice, but that won't make it ring any less true. Regular trims keep those split ends that make your hair look frizzy and damaged in check, making your hair healthier in the long run.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet with nutritious foods and plenty of water will help to boost your hair and scalp health and lock in the moisture and hydration that comes from within.
- Give your hair a break. Every once in a while, going an extra day or two without washing or blow-drying can do wonders for your hair.
- Support your hair with supplements. Omega 3 fatty acids and zinc can help to improve your scalp and hair follicle health.
- Protect your hair at night. You can protect your hair from breakage at night by wrapping it up in a satin or silk scarf or bonnet. A satin pillowcase will also do the trick if you prefer to leave your hair free while sleeping.
- Shower in water that’s too hot. Extremely hot showers can strip your scalp of its natural oils and be damaging to the hair shafts.
- Go overboard with product quantities. You don't really need that much shampoo to cleanse thoroughly. Try to keep your quantities conservative by only using enough product to cover your hair – usually about a two-centimetre-wide blob.
- Style excessively with heat. Allow your hair to air dry or t-shirt dry whenever possible. Also, avoid pressing your hairdryer too close to your hair or scalp in an attempt to make it dry faster or straighter. This will cause the hair shaft to inflate and the outer layers to curl up, giving your hair a frizzy appearance.
- Eat too many fatty foods, or drink too much strong tea or coffee. A diet rich in fatty foods can make your hair look greasier, while strong tea and coffee may contain stimulants that increase the activity of the sebaceous glands.
- Brushing your hair spreads the sebum on your scalp down the length of your hair, making it appear greasy. So, if you want your hair to stay cleaner for longer, avoid overbrushing your tresses. However, it can be good to brush the natural oils from your roots to your tips for natural moisturisation before washing your hair.
- Use harsh chemical ingredients. Shampoos and conditioners with harsh ingredients like ammonium lauryl sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate should be avoided like the plague.
- Be fooled by product prices. Remember: just because a product costs more, doesn't necessarily mean that the quality of the hair care formula is superior. Do your research on proper hair care products and ingredients to look out for or avoid before shopping for your washing winners.
ECO HAIR CARE
When you're shopping for natural hair care products, it's good to have peace of mind that your range is not only good for your hair, but also for the planet.
Love it or hate it, dry shampoo remains a good choice for those days when you really don't feel like washing your hair. Plus, it's a great water saver, making it an environmentally friendly option to stretch out the time to your next wash.
One of the biggest critiques of dry shampoo is that it leaves a light greyish powder residue that's especially visible in darker hair. Luckily, there are tons of hair products on the shelves these days, and you can find your fit by purchasing a dry shampoo for dark hair. Remember to read the ingredient list to check that it's cruelty-free, palm oil-free and 100% natural (free from parabens and sulphates).
The great thing about shampoo and conditioner bars is that they're consciously produced with reduced impact personal care packaging, and are gentle on both your hair and the environment. Moreover, if you travel often, you can say goodbye to liquid restrictions and cosmetic bag spills! Wellness Warehouse has a number to choose from, based on your personal hair care needs, and caters to normal, dry and oily hair types. From the soothing scent of Grapefruit & Rose Geranium to the creamy caress of Cacao Butter & Coconut, there's a shampoo bar to match your mane.
The naturally nourishing ingredients in these beautiful bars are also:
- Sodium lauryl sulphate-free
- Sodium laureth sulphate-free
- Artificial fragrance-free
- Artificial dye-free
- Artificial colour-free
- Proudly local
- 100% natural
- Eco-friendly (reduced water usage in production)
If the jump from liquid to solid shampoo and conditioner is a bit too much for you, Wellness Shampoo and Conditioner are also great all-natural, consciously produced, vegan and cruelty-free products to nurture and nourish your hair – they even come in travel sizes!
By Liesl Lamprecht