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Nothing dresses up an outfit or calls attention to the way you enter a room like a fabulous mane of sexy, healthy, shiny hair. Besides its obvious function of protecting your scalp from the elements, your hair can be a reflection of the state of your health – nutritional inadequacies often show up there. Dull, lifeless or thinning hair not only takes away from your appearance, but can be a red flag that certain important nutrients may be missing from your diet.
A lot has been written about the best way to care for your hair, and literally thousands of hair care products and hair supplements are vying for your attention on store shelves. In this blog we’ve set out to help narrow the crowded field and offer some recommendations that won’t break the bank. With a list of quality hair treatments, a few basic tools and a handful of simple but effective hair solutions, we believe you can make a difference in the look, feel and overall health of your hair.
Often the best hair solutions are simple strategies you can do on a regular basis to keep your beautiful hair looking great.
Even if you are trying to grow out your hair, frequent trimmings are necessary for vibrant, healthy growth. Split ends are a fact of life, and once they happen, the only way to get rid of them for good is to snip them off before they start inching their way up each strand and splitting the hair a good part of the way up. The best deterrent for split ends is to get a trim every 8-10 weeks. If your goal is longer hair, ask for a very light trim – as little as 1/8 of an inch can do the trick.
If you’re going to spend a little of your hard-earned cash, this is a good place to start. A couple of decent hair brushes can help bring out your best in any hairstyle.
With hundreds of brushes to choose from, we refer you to Harper’s Bazaar, The Best Hair Brushes for Every Hair Type. In this helpful article, they’ve done much of the legwork, narrowing down each brush type according to the kind of hair Mother Nature gave you and the length and look of your hairstyle.
While your choice of hair brush will differ from person to person, we found a couple of brushes you should not live without, regardless of your hair type:
When it comes to picking the best shampoo, the words are gentle, gentle, gentle. This is a no-brainer. Using a harsh shampoo can strip natural oils from the scalp, dry out the hair and make it more prone to breakage. (If your hair is extra dirty or very oily, simply lather it twice.) Look for a shampoo made with natural, plant-based ingredients and no harsh sulfates or paraben preservatives. Shampoos enriched with plant oils like jojoba, chamomile, avocado or rosehip, and natural hydrators like aloe vera are excellent choices.
Even if your hair is extra oily, it will still benefit greatly from a good conditioning treatment. Conditioners are designed to help strengthen the hair cuticle, the outer layers of each hair strand that are exposed to the elements and often get damaged in the process. A good conditioner lightly coats the hair shaft to helps fill in weak or damaged areas, and is formulated to make the hair more pliable and less likely to break or split. It also helps detangle and smooth the hair to minimize frizz, add softness and boost natural shine.
Choose a formula according to your hair type (plant-based ones are best) and use it every time you shampoo. Apply it to just-washed hair, leave on for two minutes, then rinse well. Note: Using a conditioner on sopping-wet hair may dilute the moisturizing effects and prevent the hair from fully absorbing it. For best results, squeeze some of the water from your hair before applying.
If you’re looking for high-quality, plant-based hair products, check out the Shampoos and Conditioners page from the Healthway family of brands. You’ll find a large selection of products formulated according to hair type or concern.
How much you turn that handle on your shower to hot could make a difference. Washing your hair with very hot water can dry out your scalp and interfere with the proper distribution of natural oils throughout the hair. This can cause hair to look dull and become weak and brittle, which leads to breakage, thinning and a lifeless, unhealthy appearance.
When shampooing, use lukewarm water for best results. The slightly warm water will remove excess oil without stripping your hair and will be good for your skin and scalp too. If you can stand it, finishing off with a blast of cold water. Cold water causes the layers of the cuticle to close and lie flat. This not only makes the individual strands stronger and less likely to break or split, but leaves the hair smoother, with a shinier appearance. As an added bonus, cold water tightens the pores in the scalp. Tighter pores along with a closed cuticle help keep dirt and impurities out, so your hair may actually stay cleaner longer.
If your hair is coarse, very curly, wavy, dry or frizzy, you might consider bypassing the shampoo entirely and try co-washing instead. Co-washing is short for conditioner-washing, and it’s an excellent strategy for thick, hard-to-handle hair with a tendency to frizz. Most conditioners contain trace amounts of detergents that will pick up dirt particles and oil and lightly cleanse the hair and scalp, while the hydrating oils will soften, smooth and add a healthy shine.
To co-wash, simply wet your hair (with lukewarm water, of course), then pour a healthy dollop of your favorite conditioner onto your hand and work it through your hair, gently scrubbing the same way you would with a shampoo. After a good, light scrub, rinse hair thoroughly, then finish off with that blast of cold water we mentioned earlier. The conditioner not only restores moisture and softness, but refreshes, deodorizes and leaves hair smoother, more manageable and easier to style.
Note that co-washing is not for everyone. If your hair is very fine, stick-straight or tending towards oiliness, this game plan is probably not for you. Also, if you use a lot of hairspray, gel and other styling products, you’ll want to alternate co-washing with using a regular, gentle shampoo to periodically help remove product residue.
In an ideal world, we would spare our hair from all that heat damage by completely avoiding blow dryers, flat irons and other heat styling tools. But in the world we live in, that is probably not an option. However, reducing the exposure to heat and using products designed to protect the hair before blow drying or heat styling can minimize the damage and keep hair looking its best.
Before you crank that blow dryer, always gently blot your hair with a towel or a soft cloth (don’t rub, as that contributes to frizzing and breakage) to remove as much moisture as possible. Finish off by taking a few paper towels and continuing the blotting process. You’ll be amazed how much moisture will be absorbed! This will considerably cut your blow drying time and your exposure to all that damaging hot air.
Using heat protection products before heat styling is always a good idea. These sprays and oils add a layer of moisture to help protect from damage and breakage. Take a look at some of styling products from Aubrey, such as Chia Detangler and Chia Serum, both formulated with organic chia seed oil, quinoa protein and an antioxidant tea blend or rooibos, black tea and green tea.
With all the brushing and tugging, spraying and gelling, heat styling, coloring and all other forms of abuse your hair endures, it’s important to make time for a good pampering treatment. A hot oil infusion or nourishing mask will do wonders for your hair! Get in the habit of doing it once or twice a week, and you’re destined to see a healthy improvement in the look and feel of your hair. We recommend Zhou Nutrition Hairfluence Tame & Shine, Heritage Store Castor Oil or Black Castor Oil, and Aubrey Intensive Hair Repair Mask with Blue Green Algae for amazing results!
A healthy, varied diet with a good balance of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can help support the health and vitality of your hair, as well as your skin and nails.
Get plenty of lean protein. Your hair follicles are continuously at work, growing healthy, new hair and replacing the old. Because these follicles are made up primarily of protein, getting enough of this important nutrient is a must. Not enough protein in your diet could lead to impaired growth and even hair loss. Some great sources of protein include poultry, fish and other seafood, Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds and lean, red meat. (Red meat is also rich in bioavailable iron, a mineral thought to be very beneficial to hair health.)
Have eggs several times a week. Eggs are not only an excellent source of protein, they are also high in biotin, an important B vitamin that helps support healthy hair growth. Your body may use biotin in the production of keratin, which makes up 95% of your hair, as well as a good portion of your skin and nails. Sometimes known as the “beauty vitamin,” biotin is one of the most important nutrients for healthy hair growth support, longer, stronger nails and radiant skin.
Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A may help support the production of sebum, the oily substance that keeps your hair and scalp moisturized, while vitamin C may be utilized in the formation of collagen, important to healthy hair. Berries are rich in vitamin C, sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, which the body may convert to vitamin A, while spinach and other leafy greens not only contain vitamins A and C, but are also high in iron.
Load up on healthy fats. Omega fatty acids, particularly omega-3s, have been widely studied for their beneficial effect on the hair. Eating plenty of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring provide plenty of omegas for your hair as well as your overall health.
Try some zinc-rich foods. This important mineral is considered an important addition to the diet and may help support healthy, vibrant hair, as well as skin health and strong nails. Good sources of zinc include beans, dairy products, oysters and shrimp.
A good multivitamin is always a great place to start. It establishes a core of nutrients to support not only your hair and skin, but your overall health. To help you find the best choice for your needs, take a look at the complete selection of multivitamins available from the Healthway Store.
Once you’ve established a baseline of nutritional support, there are a number of great supplements especially formulated to support healthier, more vibrant hair. Below are some excellent options from the Healthway family of brands:
Solaray Timed-Release Biotin 5000 mcg. Timed-release biotin provides 5000mcg per capsule to help support healthy hair and skin and stronger nails. Fast-acting, long-lasting formula is designed to release half the biotin quickly and the other half gradually, making this nutrient available to the body for up to 8 hours. Non-GMO, vegan, lab verified. 60 VegCaps, 60 Servings.
Zhou Nutrition Iron Beard. Yes, beards are hair too, and guyswho decide to grow their own will benefit from good supplementation to help support healthier, fuller-looking facial hair. Unique men’s complex contains 18 amino acids, A and B vitamins, including all-important biotin, plus hydrolyzed keratin and a special herbal blend of fo-ti, saw palmetto, pumpkin seed and nettle. Non-GMO, gluten free, lab verified, and backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee. 60 Veggie Caps, 30 Servings.
For additional tips on men’s hair health, beard care and maintenance, check out our men’s blog Fuller, Thicker, Manlier: All About Beard Care and Grooming.
Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.