Natural Hair Growth Tips
Having a naturally healthy head of hair is something many of us aspire to achieve but find it difficult to do in this age of stress, environmental pollution and sickness. Perhaps you once had a lot of good hair days and nights, but lately they’re increasingly difficult to attain. Or your once luxuriant locks are thinner and frailer due to genetic factors, under or overactive thyroid, illness, aging, stress, or hair abuse such as perming, coloring, relaxing, blowdrying, curlers, curling irons, rough handling/neglect, and using harsh, synthetic shampoos and conditioners.
Whether you seek to grow or regrow your hair, keep in mind that you only have one head of hair – so take care of it! Rethink your current hair care routine, and learn more about what works/doesn’t work for your hair type, length, and lifestyle.
An inexpensive method for helping hair growth/regrowth is to massage the scalp. Whether you buy a wood or rubber scalp massager, or opt for your ten fingers, you can invigorate and help cleanse your scalp either before shampooing, or whenever you shampoo. By stimulating your scalp you encourage the circulation, think of it as scalp aerobics, and this allows your scalp’s natural oils, sebum, to be distributed. When using your fingers, never use your nails, only your fingertips.
In the book, “Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair, and Skin Care,” author Erich Keller writes: “Since the hair is made of keratin cells, which consist almost exclusively of protein, it is particularly important to supply it with protein in the form of milk products, fish, soy products, nuts, seeds, and the essential fatty acids contained in cold-pressed vegetable oils.”
While eating healthy food is advisable, the author touches on the subject of how cold pressed vegetable oils are vital for the hair, and, if it’s meant internally, then think of the benefits of adding oil directly to your hair. Choosing the proper oil sometimes is a matter of experimentation. A light oil should be used for thin, fine hair, whilst someone with naturally curly and coarse hair might find a heavier oil preferable. There are various grades of vegetable oils available from unrefined to heavily refined. Unrefined oils retain their natural vitamins and minerals and are considered healthier, but their aromas can be somewhat pungent. For example, sesame seed oil, an excellent skin and hair loving oil that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, retains a darker color and nuttier aroma in its unrefined state. However, once it’s been refined, the color is lighter and there is no discernible odor. Here’s a selection of the most utilized vegetable oils:
Light Oils – Apricot Kernel, Peach Kernel, Sesame Seed, Meadowfoam Seed, Grapeseed, Evening of Primrose.
Medium Oils – Sweet Almond, Jojoba, Rosehip Seed, Camellia, Virgin Coconut, Monoi de Tahiti.
Heavy Oils – Avocado, Olive, Hempseed, Castor, Moringa Seed, Palm, Red Palm, Canola.
There are many more oils that are available whether in your kitchen cupboard, at your grocery store, health food store, or your favorite online shop. Experimenting with oils and their applications is necessary, sometimes you’ll discover what works for you within the first attempt, other times you may have to try out several different oils and application methods.
Leave In – This involves a very small amount of oil and you can control whether it’s applied throughout your hair or only on the ends. Simply comb or brush through your dry hair.
Prewash conditioner – To use this method, you allow the oil to remain on your scalp and hair for approximately 20 minutes, and shampoo it out. Prewash conditioners can contain a single oil, a mixture of oils and butters and they can range from organic to those filled with lots of additives and preservatives. Some prewash conditioners are applied and massaged into the scalp, while others concentrate only on the length of the hair.
Additionally, these conditioners may be applied to wet, damp or dry hair. One thing that is agreed upon is the fact that the hair should be free from tangles and snarls, so either combing or brushing before applying is necessary. Once the prewash conditioner has been applied, you can choose to comb it through your hair or remain as is – it does depend upon what you’ve added. While some people feel that 20 minutes isn’t enough, others opt for an hour, and there are people who feel as though allowing the oil to remain on overnight is beneficial. Even if you’re using a light or organic oil, please keep in mind that too much oil can be as harmful as too little.
Hot oil treatment – This time-tested method allows you to apply heated oil, which you supply yourself or buy prepackaged, apply to your scalp and hair, cover with either a plastic bag, clingwrap, and/or towel, and let remain on for about 20 minutes. If you want to soak in a hot bath during your hot oil treatment you’ll be further improving the treatment by the added warmth and relaxation. You can find thermal heat caps, which are warmed in the microwave, for less than $15 if you feel that you want something more professional.
To make your own hot oil treatment, choose your favorite oil[s], pour into a small glass bottle, and let sit in a hot water bath for a few minutes until the oil is to your preferred temperature. Remember, what’s hot for one person is scalding to another!
Clay, Dead Sea Mud, Powdered Herbs, Protein Powder, Eggs, Henna [neutral or colored], Essential Oils – all the listed products can be used to create a hair mask which will increase its strength, encourage growth, enhance shine, and tame curls. Any of these ingredients, both singly or in combination, can be healthfully used. Doing an Internet search or waiting for a future article can find recipes.
Shampoos & Conditioners:
These products are so varied and numerous that only a very brief description of what to look for can be covered here. It’s interesting to note that some people with extremely beautiful thick, luxuriant hair can use products that are found in dollar stores and are full of synthetic ingredients; while others who have fragile, beat up looking hair use only organic shampoos and conditioners and nothing improves. Reading the label is important, as is going with an ingredient list that contains fewer sudsing elements, preservatives, fragrances and colorants. To use a more natural and cost effective shampoo, consider a shampoo bar, especially one that is specially formatted for your hair type. Shampoo bars are easy to use, made with few preservatives as they contain no water, and are easy to pack for travelers.
Important Shampoo Tip - Protect your hair from getting too dry or unmanageable by washing in warm to lukewarm water, and, if possible, rinsing with cool water.
Conditioners – It’s important to read labels and decide whether you want to have your hair made shinier with silicones [look for any word ending in “cone”], or stay as natural as possible. Conditioners contain many artificial ingredients and one of the reasons that oiling has been mentioned is that by having healthier hair you’ll need to use far less conditioner. Some conditioners are rinsed out while others are left in, so you need to decide which is preferable.
Vitamins & Minerals:
For growth, a good multi-vitamin, B vitamin complex, vitamin C and biotin are considered very helpful. MSM, [Methyl Sulfonyl Methane], a form of sulfate which is not only good at soothing joints but increasing hair growth, is easy to find in your local health food store or drug store. Silica is also recommended for improving hair’s strength. According to health and beauty expert and author, Letha Hadady, in her book, “Healthy Beauty” she describes: “A Traditional Chinese Medicine-inspired line of hair products, including pills, shampoo, and a topical liquid for thinning hair, is called Shen Min. Shen Min hair nutrient pills made by Biotech for men and women provide concentrated he shou wu herb along with herbs designed to improve overall health.” On the market are other products to encourage hair growth, whether you’re simply looking for longer locks, or need to improve the quantity and quality.
Brushes & Combs:
The boar bristle brush has been used for hundreds of years and today is easier than ever to find one that is right for your hair type. The thinner and finer the hair, the more important it is to find a brush with softer bristles so as not to cause damage. Coarser, thicker hair can handle nylon tufts, and normal hair can withstand either all boar bristle or mixed boar and nylon. A good brush cleans your hair, stimulates your scalp and causes the oils to spread down to the thirsty ends. Brushing is the most natural way to distribute your oil. Keep your brush clean, wash at least once a week in cold water with your shampoo or with baking soda.
Important Brush Tip – DON’T brush wet hair! This is very damaging and causes more breakage, as hair is weaker when wet.
Some people will only use wooden combs, while others can’t be without their wide tooth combs. No matter what type of comb you buy, make sure that you comb/detangle your hair before brushing it. Also, you might first fingercomb your hair before you even start combing it to avoid too much pulling and tugging.
Watch for my next article, “Natural Hair Growth Recipes” and, in the meantime, take good care of your hair.