When it comes to hair care, advice is often contradictory and confusing. Unfortunately, most promises to ‘repair’ damaged hair are marketing myths. Products and treatments may temporarily cure the appearance of damaged hair, but they will not get rid of split ends. In fact, damaged hair decreases the hair’s elasticity, making the hair even more prone to damage. The good news is, once you’ve trimmed off the split ends and shed a few tears, you can begin to make your hair healthy and excel growth.
In the constant rush of modern life, day-to-day activities and timesaving routines can have a detrimental effect on our hair.
Ammonia in hair dyes breaks through hair cuticles in order to penetrate the hair shaft. Peroxide (bleach) completely strips the inner strand to break down pigment and often results in damaged, broken hair. Consider choosing darker dye instead of lighter to remove peroxide from the equation. Always see a licensed hair professional—box dyes may seem cheaper but are damaging and sometimes unreliable. Wait for hair to recover before dyeing it again and continue to use deep-conditioning treatments regularly.
See also: What You Need to Know About Head Lice
Too much heat can damage the keratin proteins that give hair its strength, breaking the hair cuticle. Keep heat below 210C and use heat protectant when styling. Never apply heat to wet or damp hair, as it is more fragile in this state. Reduce the amount of heat that you use on your hair, or avoid it by trying some heat-free styling techniques, like foam rolling or braiding.
Over-washing strips the hair of its natural oils and will also tempt you to use heat more often. It is recommended to wash your hair once a week with a sulphate and silicone-free shampoo and conditioner. Brush hair from the bottom, working upward to prevent breakage. Drying the hair with a soft, cotton t-shirt, can also help to protect it. Avoid over-wearing tight hairstyles and rubber bands.
Let the inside shine out
As hair is made of the second fastest-growing cells in the body, it makes sense that general health and nutrition can greatly impact its quality.
Like the rest of the body, hair responds best to a diet that is balanced. Eating healthily and incorporating more fatty acids and proteins can help make hair strong and healthy, as well as promote growth and decrease hair loss. Some rumoured foods for hair growth include eggs and (thankfully) dark chocolate.
According to Healthline, the five best vitamins for your hair are: vitamins A, C, D, E and B vitamins such as biotin. Iron and zinc are also recommended to prevent hair loss and promote growth. There is a wide variety of hair-specific supplements on the market.
It is well known that sleep deprivation is related to stress—one of the most common causes of hair loss. Getting enough sleep and putting your hair in a hair-protective style before bed can help protect against loss and breakage. Some experts swear by silk pillowcases, which reduce friction.
Regularly nourishing your hair can help to maintain strong, moisturised locks and prevent damage.
Whilst there are countless products on the market, coconut oil, castor oil and argan oil are all natural hair favourites. Apply a little to wet or dry hair after washing.
Hair masks often contain nourishing ingredients to hydrate your hair. Let them sink in for some time before washing. Natural ingredients such as avocado and honey can be applied to the hair for a deeply nourishing pamper session, which may reduce stress (and hair loss) at the same time.
Dry, flaky scalp?
- Avoid using harsh products and wash hair with a gentle shampoo that targets the scalp
- Massage the scalp with your fingers to stimulate blood flow
- Finish your wash with a cold water rinse to close pores from bacteria
- Try tea tree oil for a natural cure
This article was originally published in Live to 100 with Dr Hilary Jones. Read the digital edition, here.