My Guide to Healthy Hair
I permed my hair twice, dyed it at least five times (those 30-day temporary dyes). All throughout high school I curled my hair with hot rollers every morning. Up until three years ago, I was still curling my hair almost every day. During my late teens, I went through an “I want straight hair” phase and would straighten my hair every day, even after the hairdresser said my ends were burnt. Once, I read about using mashed banana to revitalize hair. WORST. DECISION. EVER. It took me hours to get the bits of banana out of my hair! Total nightmare. In 2012, I tried the dumbest hair product ever…Sun-In Hair Lightener. Oh, trust me, it worked! The toxic stuff bleached my hair rather quickly. Without me realizing it, my hair changed from its almond color to a beautiful reddish-brown, and then…ORANGE. After someone pointed it out, I realized that it was indeed orange! I immediately dyed it a dark brown, trying to return my hair to its natural color. And then! I chopped it off into a cute bob. It was then that I vowed I would go natural with my appearance. Natural is beautiful. Healthy is beautiful. So you see, my poor hair had been through quite a lot.
Nowadays… it’s super healthy, natural, and just the way I like it! When I visit the hair salon, the hairdressers and even strangers will tell me that my hair looks so healthy. I owe it all to the changes I’ve made in diet and hair care over the past few years. And I’m going to share those with you!
Blow drying tends to dry hair out, and in some cases burn it. When I moved to Florida in March 2015, I discovered the weather was perfect for air-drying my hair. I had just come from winter-y New York where my hair would literally freeze if I stepped outside with wet hair! That’s why I used to blow dry my hair every day; but in Florida it’s warm enough to step outside for a morning walk and let the air naturally dry my hair. Multitasking, people! It saves me time and electricity.
I also said goodbye to curling my hair when I moved here, unfortunately. The humidity causes my hair to instantly lose curl. Even using hair spray didn’t work, so I gave it up within that first month in Florida. On rare cold days, or when I visit New York, I’ll curl my hair with hot rollers.
But again, hot rollers = heat = dry, damaged, and possibly burnt hair.
Some of the best nutrients for healthy hair are Iron, Biotin, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Omega 3’s. My diet before going paleo was void of many of these nutrients. The autoimmune paleo diet that I follow gives me all of these, and in generous amounts! For healthy hair, some nutrient dense foods to include in your diet are salmon, coconut oil, oysters, leafy greens like kale and spinach, organ meat, and sweet potatoes. Those are just a few ideas to get you started. Collagen will also give you a huge boost in hair health! It’s a supplement that strengthens skin, hair, and nails. So definitely get collagen! I like Vital Proteins but I’ve also heard Great Lakes is good.
Whoa, I can’t believe it’s been eight months since I oil-trained my hair! Oil training is also known as grease training. If you didn’t already know, shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils and dries your hair out. In return, your hair produces more grease. Therefore, you wash it again. Vicious cycle, hm? That’s why I decided to oil train my hair to last longer between washes. I went from washing it every day to washing it every seven days. Don’t misunderstand – YOU STILL SHOWER EVERY DAY. You just don’t wash your hair every day. Shower caps are your friend. It was gross at first. I’ve always hated my hair when it gets greasy. What helped was that my husband loved my shiny, greasy hair. Thank God! The fact that oil training saves so much time and money helped a lot too. Those first few weeks of oil training can prove difficult because your hair doesn’t smell freshly shampoo-d, looks greasy, doesn’t part right, and is just plain freaky. The oil training process can take weeks or months for some. It really depends on your hair type and your water quality. It took me a few months to oil train my hair. I’m sorry I can’t remember how long, but I believe it was 3 – 4 months. Today, I wash my hair every Wednesday and Saturday. When my hair still looks like it can go a few days before washing, I go the whole seven days before washing.
Chemical Free Shampoo
You guys. There are so many chemicals in your typical shampoo. The shampoo I’ve been using since April of this year is made up of strictly plant-based ingredients that are derived from the actual botanicals. Most shampoos on the market (even those that claim to be plant-based) are synthesized in a lab to model nature. But Young Living’s shampoos are actually plant-based! I love it! Their shampoo isn’t just plant-based, but it’s completely free of harmful ingredients, even ingredients suspected of causing harm to your health. No parabens or sulfates in these! My favorite is the Lavender Volume shampoo! The first one I tried was Copaiba Vanilla. Nontoxic shampoo is a bit different than your average shampoo. There’s less of a lather, probably because it’s free of sodium lauryl sulfate. But they work. It takes a little time to get used to. If you’re just starting out with nontoxic shampoo, I recommend the Lavender Volume shampoo because it lathers up more than the Copaiba Vanilla shampoo.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
This is great to use in between shampoos! I add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Sometimes I’ll add tea tree essential oil or rosemary essential oil to the cup. These essential oils keep your scalp healthy. Washing your hair with apple cider vinegar and water combats grease and any product buildup. Simply dump the cup of ACV and water over your hair little by little and rub it into your scalp. Let it sit for three minutes before rinsing it out with water. Apple cider vinegar is known to revitalize, soften, and detangle hair.
Rosemary Essential Oil
This is my favorite essential oil for hair care! It stimulates hair growth and keeps your scalp clean and healthy. Sometimes I’ll add it to my apple cider vinegar rinse, which makes me smell like a roasted holiday chicken. But that’s fine, right? When I went through an autoimmune flare and my hypothyroid symptoms returned, I lost so much hair. So I used rosemary essential oil often to stimulate hair growth. I add 2-3 drops to my shampoo every time that I wash my hair.
Coconut Oil Treatment
To be honest, I’ve only done this coconut oil hair treatment a few times. I want to do it every week, but I don’t always remember. Basically, the night before you wash your hair, massage coconut oil throughout your hair. I’ve added tea tree oil before just for added cleansing. Tie your hair up in a knot to keep it out of the way while you sleep. (Change your bedding the next day because, hello oily sheets!) In the morning, shampoo and rinse your hair. You may have to shampoo and rinse twice to get all of the coconut oil out of your hair. Once you’re done, your hair is super soft and shiny! It’s the perfect conditioner. Coconut oil is also antifungal, making it a great product to use while oil training your hair. In fact, coconut oil has so many benefits, especially related to health, that I recommend doing some research and learning all there is to know about it!
General Hair Care Tips
Never rub your hair dry. Instead, pat it dry with a towel.
Use a wide tooth comb to comb out your hair after washing. Be gentle and do not yank your hair with the comb when you encounter knots. Gently comb through them.
Never tie your hair back when it is wet. It can cause breakage and pull your hair out.
Use nontoxic hair care products.
Obviously, my healthy hair is a result of all of this combined! I can’t say including collagen in my diet or oil training my hair was the cause of my hair transformation. I do know that all of these ideas I have given you have corporately restored my hair to good health. Try one or two of these ideas, or try all of them! Let me know what works best for you! How do you care for your hair?