The Secrets To Healthy, Strong Hair Finally Revealed
Spoiler alert: these are not secrets. In fact, if someone tells you they hold the secrets to healthy, strong hair… well, it could very well be that they are trying to sell you something. Okay, so where does that leave us? After all, this is the blog of a company which also sells hair products. Awkward.
But not really. I’m not about to pretend I have any revolutionary or unknown solutions. All I have up my sleeve are a few tips to share, based on my experience with hair, the people who own it, and different products.
As we know, there is a strong genetic component to anything having to do with hair. A large percentage of men and women will be afflicted with some type of alopecia (hair loss) at one point or another in their life. Sometimes it will be the run-of-the-mill pattern baldness of the male or female variety. Other times, hair loss and baldness can be the result of an autoimmune condition, a preexisting illness, or an allergy.
There are other factors which play a part. Things like diet, lifestyle, climate, family history, chemicals in the environment and in hair products, and even psychological stress -- these can all affect the way a person’s hair grows and behaves.
Let’s go through this list and find out the supposed secrets to healthy, strong hair, shall we?
Avoid Chemicals, Find Natural Ingredients
Seems almost obvious, but it still needs to be said that you should avoid chemicals and find natural ingredients to use. If hair growth is a naturally occurring process, don’t hinder it by using substances which may make the hair look great but potentially rob it of its vitality. And if you do use products which are loaded with chemicals, use them in moderation.
Your body can usually take care of itself. It knows which nutrients and elements to send where, and at what time. It’s true for the scalp, and also for the rest of the body. Because of that -- and as a way of returning to a baseline of hair health -- it’s advised to avoid harsh chemicals and to find natural ingredients that you can use as replacements. This can be temporary or permanent, but it should probably be done if you’re interested in knowing which products are right for you and your hair type.
Providing that you are relatively healthy and are not suffering from any condition, your body produces enough natural oil and enough nourishment for every single hair on your head. Through a three-stage process of living, resting, and shedding, the hairs on our head regenerate. Or rather, the hairs disconnect from their respective follicles and fall out, whereupon the follicles sprout new hairs. At any given time, all the hairs on your head are going through one of these three stages.
Not all chemicals and preservatives are evil and cancerous, of course. But as a general rule, it’s best to use hair care products which are based on (or which incorporate a significant amount of) natural substances like castile soap, essential oils, cocoa or shea butter, herbal and floral extracts, or even straight up olive oil. Chemicals and preservatives may build up over time, and this could cause problems down the line.
If you want healthier and stronger hair, you need to treat it right.
Don’t Overwash Your Hair
This is an age-old debate, but ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference and experience. Those of us whose hair gets caked up with sweat and dirt on the daily -- whether it’s due to working out, working at a job, living in a highly humid climate, or any other reason -- those people probably do need to shampoo daily. But if you’re not one of those people, don’t overwash your hair.
The percentage of people who should be washing daily is relatively small. And yet, there are many individuals out there who wash their hair on a daily basis, even when it may not be the best thing for their hair and scalp. Overuse of shampoo can lead to trouble. There’s no getting around the fact that hair can be a sensitive thing to maintain. So, what’s the deal with shampoo?
Shampoo is meant to strip away excess oils and grime, and in some cases provide some moisture. Some amount of oil and even dirt is okay and considered to be natural and helpful. So don’t aim to get rid of 100% of it. Overwashing the hair can cause it to become extra dry, less flexible, and more prone to breakage. See what works best for you, and don’t feel like you need to shampoo every day -- even if the bottle or container says “for daily use”. Just because you can use something daily, does not mean that you should.
Don’t Damage Your Hair With Heat
Consider the element of fire. It can provide warmth, energy, and life. But it can also bring with it intense damage. Same thing with heat and hair. Some is okay and wanted, but too much can create long-lasting damage. You can prevent heat damage with proper use of thermal devices, but you cannot fully reverse the damage once it’s been done. Heat leaves a mark when it’s too intense.
Don’t be discouraged! Heat styling is a great way to achieve a new look in no time. When used correctly, heat-based apparatuses can do wonders to your hair and your ego. Sometimes, all you need to feel awesome is a really great hair day. But you need to use caution so that you don’t damage your hair with heat.
When used improperly or too frequently, heat can be a veritable doomsday device for your strands. If you plan on using a straightener, curler, or a similar hair care product, make sure to clean and moisturize your hair before use. Depending on the type of hair you have, consider using a protective serum or cream.
When blow drying, use a low heat setting whenever possible. Make sure to aim it at the right angle and keep some distance (several inches at least) from the hair. Ideally, you should keep the same aim and distance as you travel across the entire head. Also, if you have a nozzle which helps to direct airflow, it could be of use.
Use The Right Products For Your Hair Type
Not all hair is created equally -- this much is obvious and self-evident. Human hair comes in all sorts of textures, shapes, and levels of softness. The most widely used classification systems split hair into four types: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky, along with their respective sub-types. Using the right products for your hair type can be crucial, because different hair types require unique kinds of attention or focus.
Strong and healthy hairs need products which let them do their thing. This means that the product shouldn’t weaken the root, leave pore-clogging residues on the scalp, or encourage shedding, split ends, and breakage. From mousses and creams to dry shampoos and leave-in conditioners, there are so many ways to take care of your hair. Concurrently, it may take time to find a good hair care product which suits you. But it is probably worth it -- so don’t compromise.
Keep in mind, you may still need to change up that routine as you go through different seasons, changes in lifestyle, habits, hair styles, and more. You could use the finest and most expensive hair product on the market -- but if it makes no difference to your hair, it’s probably not meant for your hair type.
And while we are on this: feel free to experiment. Nothing here is written in stone, and I do not have your hair on my head. It really is a personal choice, when you come down to it. Experimenting with hair care products can yield some surprising and satisfying results.
If you don’t seem to get the results you want from a certain product, consider switching to something which better suits your hair type or routine.
Don’t Overbrush Your Hair
The hairbrush. It’s meant to help you untangle those pesky knots and to style your hair with greater ease. And yeah, it does that, but there is also a danger there. If you over brush your hair, are too aggressive with it, or use the wrong kind of brush, it could be trouble.
For healthy and strong hair, it’s recommended that you start from the bottom and work your way up. And don’t forget the scalp itself! For many years, I did the exact opposite and worked my way from the top down. But the truth is that it should be done from the bottom, and relatively slowly, in order to prevent unnecessary breakage and ripping.
Proper brushing helps stimulate healthy growth and spread the body’s natural oil around the head. It can also keep your locks looking neat and spiffy. Don’t feel you need to struggle with your hairbrush, though. Brushing should be carried out once every day or two, thoroughly, and the rest of the time you don’t really need it. Also, it’s best to NOT brush wet hair, since it’s more prone to breakage when wet.
Does Cutting Hair Make It Healthier?
Cutting your hair contributes to the hair’s overall health. But it doesn’t magically affect the genetic makeup of your body. For many years, there was a kind of myth surrounding haircuts in regards to the length and strength of hair. Let’s clear it up a bit. The truth of the matter is that if you trim regularly, the hairs which remain on your head will have a decreased tendency for split ends, weakness, breakage, and shedding.
When you cut your hair, you are basically clearing out the dead wood from the forest’s floor. When the body is not busy wasting precious resources on hairs which have one (hairy) foot in the grave, it can divert all its attention to the hairs which are alive and kicking. This results in hair which is often thicker, shinier, and stronger than before.
Because of that, you shouldn’t wait too long for your next trim. Trim time should be judged on a case-by-case basis, of course. But a good rule of thumb for long hair is that it should be cut once every three months or so. Get rid of split ends, along with broken and damaged hairs, and see how your body responds.
Optimize Your Diet
What you eat becomes who you are -- physically speaking. The nutrients you put into your system affect the entire body, and this includes the scalp and hair. So for best hair results, optimize your diet. Hair is a protruding strand of keratin, and it requires nourishment just like any other part of you. When you eat properly and optimize your diet for healthy growth, it affects all of you. This is not limited to hair by any means. A healthy diet is a real pillar of well-being and vitality.
Among the best foods which promote healthy hair growth, you can find nuts and seeds, eggs and seafood, and even liver. Because your hair is essentially a strand of protein, you need to treat it as such. Providing it with a diet rich in biotin, fatty acids, and vitamins is a surefire to keep your hair healthy and strong.
Our eating habits affect us in a big way, but they have their limits. Hair-friendly food can indeed help prevent breakage and hair loss, and it plays a role in encouraging healthier growth going forward. However, it is not an all-around cure for baldness or thinning. The gene pool runs deeper than avocados or sweet potatoes, so you should keep that in mind.
Counter Hard Water
Hard water is defined as water which has a higher count of minerals, as opposed to soft water. If you live in an area with hard water, the calcium (and other minerals) could cause buildup in your hair and on your scalp. This could weaken the hairs over time and dry out your scalp as well. You’ll want to counter hard water, because these are hardly the ideal conditions for growing healthy and strong hair.
This kind of water can cause the hair to become brittle and fall out prematurely when left unchecked. There are several popular ways of eliminating or combating the effects of hard water on your hair:
- Install a hard water filter in your shower
- Use a vinegar or lemon rinse: the acidity helps remove buildup
- Buy a buildup-clearing shampoo or a designated leave-in product
- Use essential oils on damp hair to counter possible dryness, after the shower
If you use any colors or dyes on your locks, be aware that over time the hard water can actually change the complexion of your hair. This can cause the dye or color to fade early, pick up brassy tones, and/or lose the color altogether.
You should take care to counter the effects of the hard water. But there is a catch here: be sure to use products or techniques which are suited for colored-treated hair. Otherwise you run the risk of stripping more than just excess minerals from your hair!
Healthy and strong hair (or lack of it) is often a direct result of your actions and habits. As I said before, genes do play a role, but it’s not like there is nothing you can do about it. The products you use, the food you consume, the lifestyle you lead -- these can all have an effect.
The best path to healthy and strong hair which lasts is to go the natural route whenever possible. Many times, though not always, people sacrifice the future of their hair for the present. They use harmful chemicals and damaging techniques to look great for one or two evenings, and they don’t take into account what these products and methods could do in the long run.
Strong and healthy hair does not appear overnight. It is often a lengthy process. A hair’s life cycle is two to seven years, so this should serve as a kind of indicator. If strong and healthy hair is your goal, you may need to invest some time, do the proper research, and take care of your hair with long-term results in mind.
This doesn’t mean that one day or night of abusing your hair will doom your locks for life. It simply means that you need to think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. Something which requires consideration and sometimes reexamining or restructuring of your hair care routine.
Then again, despite all of that -- there are those who do none of the above, and still manage to boast a thick and healthy head of hair even in their Golden Years. Some people…