Bad hair day? Not with these fantastic tips

Did you know? Healthy hair is important as it better serves the chief biological purpose of keeping one’s head warm and helping to regulate body temperature.

Hair allows us to express our personality and change our look depending on our mood or the weather. It is also a good indicator of overall health. We have collated the most reliable and effective tips to ensure every day is a good hair day. 

There are a plethora of simple tips, questionable myths and reliable scientific results surrounding the mystifying quest towards healthy hair. Here's what you need to know.

Choosing shampoo and conditioner
The best advice when choosing your shampoo and conditioner is to look at the active ingredients. Don’t be fooled by marketing, as words like ‘natural’ aren’t regulated and don’t provide any kind of guarantee. One positive ingredient to look for is silicone (or dimethicone) as this coats and protects the hair. Look out for artificial scents and colours or detergents. Some particularly harmful ingredients to be wary of are sodium laurel sulphate, parabens and benzyl benzoate. Try to buy shampoo and conditioner that is specifically targeted to your hair type and use the same line of products as they are designed to complement each other.

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There is no single rule for how frequently you should wash your hair. If you have an oily scalp, for example, you will need to do it more often. As you age, your scalp produces less oil and you can usually wash it less frequently. However, if you’re getting dandruff or a flaky scalp this generally means your washes are too seldom. When washing with conditioner, start a few centimetres from the scalp and concentrate most of the conditioner on the tips of your hair as otherwise it can make the scalp oily.

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Old wives tales - true or not?
You’ve probably heard many old wives' tales about hair care however surprisingly there is some truth to them. The old saying ‘100 brush strokes a night’, for example, has merit because brushing your hair from root to tip distributes the hair’s natural oil down the hair shaft, making it shinier, less damaged and less prone to breakage.

Start from the tip then travel upward to detangle the knots. Also be sure to use a dense boar brittle brush, as this is the most effective at removing dirt, dust and debris and moving oil down the hair shaft.

Ever heard the one about using cold water to wash out conditioner? It is true that this seals the cuticle and makes it harder for moisture to enter, effectively preventing the process that can cause 'frizz'.

One of the most important practices to avoid is very frequent blow drying or straightening. These events damage the hair make it more prone to breakage. If you are blow drying your hair, put it on a lower heat level and be sure to never straighten wet hair. Wet hair is more vulnerable, which also means you should avoid brushing it. Try to towel dry hair by patting rather than rubbing it. Furthermore, avoid tying hair back too tight to the point of pain, particularly when sleeping, as this increases friction and causes breakage. Finally, try to avoid smoking or too much stress, as these factors can make your hair more dull and brittle.

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Image: Flickr

Thinning hair
While going bald is a well-known issue for men, surprisingly, 40 per cent of people who experience temporary or long-term hair loss are women. If you are experiencing sudden hair loss, you should consult a medical professional. However, there are some easy hair thinning prevention and treatment methods to try at home.

To disguise thinning hair, try a different hairstyle such as a shorter cut, a different part or more layers to heighten the volume. Try getting into the habit of gently blow-drying your hair (after it has partially air dried) to build volume. A scalp massage has also been shown to prevent thinning hair as it temporarily increases circulation to the scalp, thereby pumping the hair follicles with the nutrients it needs to grow. Use your fingertips and a small amount of argan or coconut oil and rub in a circular motion for a few minutes prior to shampooing.

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Greying gracefully
Embracing grey hair can be a sophisticated look. The first step is to blend your roots, as the contrast in texture and tone makes it look unkempt. It is worth getting a do-it-yourself highlighting or root-touch-up kit to blend the roots until at least 60% of your roots are silver. Then you can give up your dye job and just embrace the grey. Silver strands often have a duller look as they absorb light instead of reflecting it. Consequently, you should use an oil-absorber or glaze to give your hair added shine between washes. Also ensure your styling products are colourless so they don’t tarnish your grey hair.

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Natural hair masks
Many of the most helpful and nutrient-rich treatments for your hair aren’t found in hair salons but they are found in your kitchen cupboard. The natural vitamins, minerals and proteins in certain food items make them the ideal nourishing hair treatments.

For the 'hair masks' recipes below, you should mix the ingredients together to make a paste then apply liberally over the hair. Cover your head and hair with a shower cap and leave the paste for 20 minutes to a few hours depending on the damage. Thoroughly rinse out the mixture and follow with your usual shampoo and conditioner regime. 

  • For hydration, softness, body and shine: give your hair a deep hot oil condition by mixing ¼ cup of olive oil, ¼ cup aloe vera oil, 6 drops of rosemary oil and 6 drops of sandalwood essential oils. Heat it so that it is warm to touch and then soak through the hair.
  • To give your locks a softer, more luscious look: simply blend one ripe banana and a teaspoon of honey into a smoothie-like mixture.
  • To give your hair a glossy finish: simply apply plain yoghurt to wet hair. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
  • To prevent dandruff: use a hibiscus leaves paste or powder with water.
  • To restore lustre: combine one ripe avocado and an egg to wet hair and replenish it with vitamins and essential fatty acids.
  • For a softness and shine: simply prep your hair with warm water and coat your hair with mayonnaise, put on a plastic wrap such as a shower cap, let it sit for 20 minutes or more and rinse.

Feed your hair naturally
As well as putting food items in your hair, a balanced diet with plenty of healthy oils for essential fatty acids is also crucial for restoring hair health and vibrancy. A diet rich in zinc, iron, protein and biotin (a B vitamin) is important for shine and strength. Aim to get these vitamins naturally. Particularly beneficial foods for your hair include foods such as salmon, walnuts, yoghurt, sweet potatoes, spinach and blueberries.

If you have specific concerns about your hair, consult a hair or medical professional.

What is your best tip when it comes to healthy hair? Join our conversation below…