3 Phases of Healthy Hair
Improving your hair health may sound like a lot of work but it’s as easy as 1,2,3!
1. Internal care: Feed your hair with the right food and nutrients
2. External care: Prevent hair damage
3. Address stress
This is where diet plays a key role. Here’s the deal, if you have fine hair, you will never have super thick individual strands of hair but improving your diet can make a huge difference. Your hair’s inherent texture and thickness is mostly based on genetics, which as we all know, cannot be changed but fortunately, it is possible to make the best out of what you already have.
First, you need to embrace your hair for the way it is naturally, whether it is curly, wavy or straight, whether its black or blonde or whether it’s fine or thick because such characteristics cannot be changed without styling treatments, so if you got it, flaunt it!
But what about the damages, the hair fall, the thinness, the lack of luster and the dryness that is preventing your hair from being oh-so-sexy?
All of this can be addressed by simply modifying your diet and making a few additions and subtractions here and there. No, this is not going to be like a typical diet. Eating healthy is not synonymous to dieting or completely getting rid of foods you love from your life. Eating healthy revolves around having foods that make you feel good and help satiate you. Yes, eating chocolate cake feels good too but this is not the “feel-good” I’m talking about.
Have unhealthy foods you love moderately.
For example, I love chocolate but I don’t have a giant slab of chocolate in one go. Commercially bought chocolates are often rich in sugar and trans fat which as we all know are bad for the body. Chocolate stimulates the release of feel good hormones and is rich in antioxidants and is hence, good for the hair but this only applies to dark chocolates, which taste really good too.
Dark chocolate is good for you but have it in small amounts, for example, in the form of shavings on top of your Greek yogurt or pancakes or as a dip for your strawberries or bananas. Or you could add it to pancakes.
Reward yourself with a cheat meal every week.
Refined carbs such as sugar and white flour are bad for you and your hair and skin but this doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a slice of pie or a doughnut ever again. A cheat meal or a reward meal every week will keep you sane and will help you stay motivated to carry on eating healthy and clean.
However, it is important that you enjoy it without guilt! Nourish your hair by having the right nutrients.
Other than genetics, there are many factors that may affect your hair health negatively. Some of them include hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, overconsumption of sugar and an improper diet, an underactive or overactive thyroid gland, inadequate scalp circulation and emotional stress.
However, consuming the right nutrients that target the above issues will ultimately aid in promoting hair health as well. If you was to know what you should eat for sexier hair, you know the drill: carry on reading:
1. Have more foods rich in essential fatty acids
Essentially, fatty acids, also known as good fats, are vital for the optimal functioning of the body. Since you cannot produce these fatty acids in your body on your own, you need to consume foods containing them.
Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for hair and skin because they nourish them and prevent dryness. Consumption of foods containing essential fatty acids helps in promoting scalp health and making hair silkier and softer.
Some of the best sources of omega 3s include walnuts, Brazil nuts, flaxseeds, salmon, whole grains, eggs and avocado.
Here are some great ways to start your morning with an omega-3 kick with oatmeal!
2. Go nuts
When it comes to enhancing hair health, nuts really pack a punch. Perhaps the most popular beautifying nut is walnut. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid that condition and hydrate the scalp and promote hair growth. Walnuts are among the key sources of zinc, along with pecans, almonds and pecans.
** Note that lack of zinc in the diet can result in hair fall and hair breakage, so make sure a handful of nuts is included in your diet every day.**
Brazil nuts are also tremendously amazing as they are perhaps Mother Nature’s best source of selenium, a mineral crucial for a healthy scalp.
When I talk about nuts, the first thing that comes into my mind is granola bars and guess what you can make them yourself at home! Here are some awesome ideas by skinnyms that you need to try:
3. Pack on more protein
We all know that protein is the building block of life and its functions such as promoting cellular growth and repair, amongst others are vital for hair growth. Keratin, a key component of hair is a protein and you may have seen in numerous hair product labels as well. In order to boost hair protein, you need to consume more protein. So kick the carbs aside and have a liberal serving of chicken or turkey breasts, eggs, fish, dairy, nuts and seeds, lentils or green leafy vegetables.
These sources are also rich in iron which is also amazing for hair health.
Here is a delicious recipe which incorporates chicken and chickpeas, two high-protein foods that your hair will love, by Jaime Oliver:
Insufficient protein in the diet can result in weak and brittle hair the is prone to breakage. Your hair may lose its rich color prematurely and appear dull and dry too.
4. Boost keratin production with methylsulfonylmethane
Methylsulfonylmethane helps stimulating the production of keratin, which strengthens the hair and the follicles in your scalp. Some excellent sources of MSM include cabbage, watercress, swiss chard, asparagus, alfalfa and beets. Having these foods raw is the best option because heat can destroy the MSM in these beauties.
5. Vitamin D
Numerous studies indicate that vitamin D can activate hair follicles and induce hair growth. However, instead of sitting under the sun for hours and getting exposed to harmful UV rays, your best bet would be to have foods that contain it such as eggs, nuts and seeds, fortified whole grain cereals, dairy and green leafy vegetables.
6. Iron, zinc and silica
Iron, zinc and silica are three minerals that help hair grow. The best sources of iron include lean red meat, poultry breasts, fish, dairy, eggs and green leafy vegetables. You can find zinc in high amounts in oysters, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, pecans and eggs. Silica can be found in leafy greens, cucumber, beans, celery asparagus, horsetail herb and mango.
7. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the best beauty vitamins because of its role in boosting collagen production. When the collagen surrounding your hair breaks down, it becomes more brittle and susceptible to breakage. In order to fix this, you need to focus on ways to build more collagen around your hair strands and the best way to do so is by consuming vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, guava, strawberries, cabbage and leafy greens.
As a bonus, having more vitamin C in your diet improves your skin health and immune system too! Furthermore, vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron so coupling vitamin C foods with iron-rich foods is always a good idea.
Biotin is one of the B complex vitamins which is found in numerous hair, skin and nail products for a reason. When it comes to hair health, biotin improves scalp health and encourages hair growth. Some of the best dietary sources of biotin include nuts, oats, brown rice and other whole grains and nuts.
Taking a 30 mcg biotin supplement can help too if you’re not getting enough from your diet.
Tired of having rice the same old way? Try adding in nuts to double the Biotin factor in brown rice.
9. Have more beans
Not a lot of people talk about beans for better hair health. However, kidney beans and other legumes are actually essential for any hair care of beauty diet. Here is a helpful guide to all the beans you will ever need.
Kidney beans are rich in iron, zinc, biotin and protein that support hair growth. Just three cups of beans or lentils can per week can make a huge difference and the best part is, they are super versatile and can be made into soups, burger patties, taco filling, salads and much more.
10. Two words: Leafy greens
Leafy greens, especially dark leafy greens are especially important for amazing hair because they are a rich source of vitamins A and C, folate, iron, magnesium and calcium. Vitamin A is required for sebum production in the scalp. Sebum is an oily substance that is released by your hair follicles to nourish and hydrate your scalp and hair. Dark greens like broccoli, Swiss chard and spinach are some of the best foods for your hair.
11. An under active thyroid gland?
Hypothyroidism is one of the most common causes of hair thinning in women. However, you can address the issue by having foods rich in iodine such as sea vegetables like nori, kelp, wakame, kombu and dulse. You may want to consider not drinking tap water as well because it usually consists of chlorine and fluorine which prevent iron absorption.
No hair care routine can be complete without taking care of your hair externally. This means that you need to evaluate the pros and cons of the products you use, consider trying some natural remedies to treat your hair and avoid external abuse as much as possible. To ensure that your hair looks and feels its best, here’s what you can do:
1. Never apply heat to wet hair
Your hair is less elastic when it’s wet, therefore, using a blow dry set on high to dry your dripping hair is a bad idea. A little bit of moisture always allows you to set your hair properly so focus on just drying your hair a little bit with a blow dryer and then letting it air dry for a silky and smooth look.
Simply flip your hair over and get rid of the excess water with the blow dryer. Your hair should still be a little damp once you’re done. Let your hair air dry while you get dressed and put on your makeup. Once your hair is about 80 percent dry, you can start styling.
Or you can take a bath at night and try doing some overnight curls. They look gorgeous and don’t require any heat! Here’s how you can do it:
2. Avoid leaving products in for too long
Any product, be it a hair mask or hair gel should not be left in your hair for too long. Furthermore, you should avoid using hair gels, waxes, sprays, mousse etc. in order to ensure that you do not plague your hair with unwanted chemicals and eliminate the need to wash your hair every day.
If you feel you have too much gunk in your hair, instead of using a clarifying shampoo which has a high possibility of containing sulfates (which are bad for your hair), try just adding in a tablespoon of white vinegar to the amount of shampoo that you use for one application and massage it into your scalp and hair. This can be done once or twice a week depending on the number of times you wash your hair – ideally, less than thrice a week.
3. Be cautious about salon treatments
Always remember that pain during hair styling or hair treatment is abnormal. Any type of sensation; be it tingling or burning may indicate that your scalp is getting damaged. If you experience discomfort in our scalp during a salon treatment, look for another stylist.
4. Avoid pulling your hair
Most of us pull on our hair while ironing, blow-drying, doing an up-do, etc. However, if pulling your hair or doing a tight hairstyle hurts, it means your hair is being pulled too hard. Too much tension may cause hair to break or be pulled off. Therefore, always opt for loose hairstyles such as loose braids and ponytails.
5. Avoid washing hair too frequently
Whether your hair is dirty or not, washing your hair every day has become an automatic habit. However, unless your hair is very oily or dirty, washing your hair is a major crime you’re making in your daily hair care routine. Washing your hair daily can remove the sebum from your scalp. Sebum is a conditioning oil your scalp naturally releases to ensure that your hair is soft and healthy.
Therefore, your best bet would be to stick to a minimum of 3 washes every week. If your hair is on the dryer side, you may even wash it just once or twice a week. Not washing your hair daily eliminates your need to blow dry your hair and thus, prevent your hair from getting excessively dry.
If your hair is way too oily, just rinse the scalp and apply conditioner to the roots. Applying conditioner to the scalp can cause excessive oiliness and weigh your hair down even further.
6. Stop coloring your hair too frequently
Yes, covering up grey hair is a must for most people there is a way to stretch the time between color treatments.
If you have hard water, chances are that you need to visit the salon more frequently than females who don’t. Hard water strips the color off your hair because of its heavy metal content. Using a shower filter can eliminate this issue and allow your hair color to last longer.
Additionally, you need to use shampoos that are suitable for color-treated hair. However, the best option to conserve your hair color would be to wash your hair less frequently.
7. Try some home remedies for beautiful hair
Instead of using store bought hair care products which are most likely going to contain chemicals that are bad for your hair, consider some DIY organic treatments such as:
- Avocado and egg mask – Mash one whole ripe avocado and mix in an egg. Prepare a paste and apply to wet hair. Since eggs are rich in protein and vitamins and avocados are packed with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, combining the two to create a mask and applying it on your hair will help you restore its smoothness and luster while repairing damaged hair.
- Apple cider vinegar hair rinse – Rinse your hair after shampooing with one part apple cider vinegar to two parts warm water. You can prepare this mixture in a squeeze bottle and add in a natural scent of your choice such as cinnamon or lavender essential oil to eliminate ACV’s pungent smell. Massage the rinse into your scalp for a couple of minutes, let it stay on your scalp for another few minutes and then wash your hair. This restores your hair’s natural pH and thus, makes it healthier and shinier as well.
- Aloe vera hair mask – Aloe vera is amazing for hair and skin and it can be applied to your hair or consumed for internal nourishment. Furthermore, you can apply it onto your skin to restore your skin’s natural pH levels and cleanse pores. Aloe vera is also an excellent hair loss remedy and it helps create shine and volume. Aloe vera can be applied to your hair as a mask before shampooing on its own or you can even add it to one tablespoon of shampoo and one tablespoon of coconut milk. Use the mixture as a regular shampoo and wash hair as usual. Follow this with and ACV rinse for best results.
- Rosemary oil – Rosemary oil can be massaged onto the scalp to enhance blood circulation and improve hair health. Rosemary oil can also accelerate hair growth if used regularly. You can incorporate it into your shampoo – add one part rosemary oil to one part shampoo and apply it onto your scalp and hair.
If you have dry hair, mix equal amounts of olive oil or coconut oil with rosemary oil and massage it onto your scalp and hair. Leave it for about 30 minutes and shampoo as usual.
In our fast, over scheduled lives, stress is a common factor that can either make or break us. Stress is a natural response to any negative or threatening situation, it’s also one of your fight or flight responses. Stress is never a negative aspect of your life; it’s just trying to help you deal with the situation you are in.
A common stressful situation can be meeting a deadline. You only have a few hours to complete a project but clearly it’s not enough. This is where stress comes into play. Stress makes you stronger, it clarifies your vision, it makes you work faster under pressure and it helps you get the job done. However, you shouldn’t force yourself into a stressful situation to get a job done on time.
The solution perhaps is to not eliminate the stress in your life, but the factors that are considered as threatening to your subconscious mind. Always plan ahead, set mini goals and avoid distractions to get work done.
Other ways to calm your body and mind include sleeping at night for at least 7 hours daily, having a proper, nutritious diet, sitting less, exercising every day, helping others, getting a dog and practicing yoga.
Yoga is my favorite feel-good treatment because it relaxes my body and I know that it is actually helping me improve my lifestyle, thus making me feel even better and more confident.
My favorite kick-ass yoga moves for stress and anxiety are:
1. Cat pose
This is an excellent pose to gently massage your tummy organs and your spine. It’s also super relaxing. Get on all fours with wrists right under your shoulders and knees under your hips and breathe in deeply allowing your core to curl upwards creating an upside down U. Cat pose also stimulates the gut, improves gastrointestinal health and induces spinal fluid.
Here’s a video demonstrating how you can do a cat pose:
2. Cow pose
This pose is often paired with the cat pose when you exhale to create a U with your core. The cow pose calms the mind, relaxes the body and the abdominal organs and stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands.
3. Child’s pose
This is perhaps my favorite pose for relieving stress and relaxing my body in between exercises. To get into child’s pose, start with a kneeling position and place your butts on your heels while you lean your torso down and forward. Melt your upper body to your matt and rest your arms alongside your head. You should feel a slight stretch down the length of your arms and spine and in your shoulders.
4. Corpse pose
Corpse pose or savasana is the ultimate relaxation pose in which you have to clear your mind, free your body and just focus on your breathing. Corpse pose is easy. All you have to do is lie down with your arms by your sides and your palms facing up. Close your eyes and allow your body to relax and melt into the mat with each breath.
Maintain this posture for 5 minutes or more, depending on the amount of time you have.