Walk into a supermarket and you’re faced with a bewildering array of hair-care products. Tune into a grooming program and you’re bombarded with umpteen routines, hacks, and products that are absolutely “non-negotiable” for healthy, glossy hair. But hair care really isn’t that complex. A few simple steps followed consistently can give you that gorgeous mane you’ve been dreaming about. The list that follows has general hair-care pointers as well as tips on how to wash, condition, and even comb your hair. A bit of discipline and dedicated care and you’ll have a hair-care routine that works on all fronts!
1. Wash Your Hair Only When Needed
Avoid harsh chemical-laden shampoos and use natural cleansers like shikakai, reetha (soapnut), and hibiscus powder to wash your hair.
Shampooing daily is a ritual that most of us follow. But excessive washing can make your hair dry and brittle and cause it to lose body. How frequently your hair needs to be washed depends on the amount of oil that’s produced by your scalp and your hair texture. Oily hair may need a rinse every two days while a weekly wash may suffice for dry hair. And anything between once or twice a week may work for you if you have normal hair. Oil may build up sooner if you have straight and fine hair, therefore requiring a few washes a week. Coarse or tightly coiled hair may do just fine with a weekly wash. Chemically treated and gray hair too tends to be dry and may not require frequent washing. 1 2 3 Here’s a ready reckoner on washing your hair the right way.
2. Oil Your Hair The Night Before You Wash It
Ayurvedic practitioners have long advocated the use of hair oils to condition hair, improve its quality, and promote hair growth. Massage in a little hair oil the night before you wash your hair, leave it in overnight, and wash it off in the morning. It’s best not to expose your hair to the sun and dust after applying oil as it may attract dust. And remember a gentle head massage before going to bed may even help you sleep better! Use warmed oil and feel it soak into your scalp!
Coconut oil and sesame oil are considered good for your hair and commonly used as hair oils in many Southeast Asian communities. But if you’re prone to colds or sinusitis, you might want to be a little cautious about leaving in coconut oil overnight as it is considered to be a “cool” oil which can worsen these conditions. An ayurvedic remedy to counteract this effect is to use coconut oil infused with pepper. To prepare pepper-infused oil, warm about 100 ml of coconut oil with 5 gms of pepper over mild heat and strain it. 4 If the overnight oiling still doesn’t work for you, try oiling your hair 30–60 minutes before your wash.
3. Use A Natural Conditioner After Washing
Use a conditioner after you shampoo your hair. A conditioner can reduce static electricity and improve strength and shine. But concentrate on the tips of your hair, avoiding the scalp. Many natural oils can also double up as conditioners – take your pick from coconut oil, argan oil, olive oil and simply run a little oil through wet hair strands, leaving it in. You could mix in some aloe vera gel or even infuse it with a bit of aromatic essential oil like rose or jasmine for hair that smells great! But remember, a little goes a long way. Too much oil can make your hair greasy and attract dust. Just a couple of drops should do the trick.5
4. Handle Wet Hair With Care
Wet hair’s fragile. It’s more elastic than dry hair and therefore breaks more easily. Combing, brushing, and even toweling your hair dry roughly when it’s wet can damage it. If your hair is straight, run a wide-toothed comb through it only after it has dried out a bit. If your hair is textured or tightly curled, use a wide-toothed comb while it is a little damp to make combing easier.6
5. Nix The 100 Strokes And Comb Your Hair Only When Needed
Are you in the habit of brushing your hair before you go to bed? We’ve all been told that the key to glossy hair is a 100 strokes before bed but overbrushing can actually damage your hair. Your hair only needs to be combed or brushed when you style it. And it’s best to run a wide-toothed comb gently through your hair. Avoid tugging or pulling on your hair when you comb and work out any tangles with care. Using a moisturizing conditioner can help ease tangles gently. 7
6. Apply A Deep Conditioning Hair Pack Every Week
If your hair is dry, frizzy, or damaged, a deep conditioning treatment is just what your hair needs once a week. While you’ll find a host of products in the market, a simple homemade honey hair mask will do the job perfectly. Honey is a humectant, that is, it attracts and holds on to moisture. So, mix half a cup of honey with a tablespoon of olive oil and work it into your scalp and hair. Add a little warm water if it’s too thick. Then cover with a shower cap and let it sit for about half an hour. Now wash and condition as usual for beautiful shiny tresses.8 Leave out the olive oil and you’ve got yourself an effective dandruff treatment! 9
7. Avoid Damaging Hair Treatments
Heat treatments and chemical treatments can cause your hair a lot of damage. Coloring, perming, and relaxing products contain harsh chemicals that can harm your hair and it’s best to avoid using them. In case you do use any of these products, make sure that you follow instructions carefully. Even using a blow dryer is not good for your hair. Air dry your hair when possible and avoid using a high setting when you blow dry. 10
8. Use Vinegar For Shine, Beer For Bounce, And Henna For Color
Many hair treatments that most of us regularly use can be quite damaging to your hair. So it makes sense to substitute natural alternatives for these where possible. Here are some natural options that you might want to check out:
A Diluted Vinegar Or Lemon Juice Rinse To Boost Shine
A mild acid rinse can smoothen your hair cuticles and boost shine. A diluted white vinegar or lemon juice and water solution will work well for this. You can even combine both these ingredients to make a rinse. Just mix the juice of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a cup of water. Massage it into your hair and rinse off with cold water.11 12 Do keep in mind though that lemon can have a slight lightening effect on hair.
A Beer Rinse For Bouncy Hair
This one’s simple. Pour a cup of beer out and let it sit till it goes flat. Work it through clean hair and rinse it out with cool water for shiny, bouncy hair.13
A Henna Pack To Color Hair
If you’re looking for a natural hair colorant, you might want to check out henna. Henna has a naturally red color. Henna mixed with indigo, on the other hand, gives you a deep brown color. Pick a shade you like and mix it with hot water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste evenly over your hair and leave it in for anywhere between 30 minutes to a couple of hours. The longer you let it sit, the deeper the color and the longer it’ll last. Henna may, however, not be a good option if you’re blonde since it can make your hair look slightly orange. Also remember to use gloves when you handle this powerful natural dye or you’ll be left red-handed!
A Chamomile Rinse To Lighten Hair
If you’re looking to lighten hair, try a chamomile rinse. To prepare the mix, seep chamomile in boiling water for 10–15 minutes tea. This solution can be applied to softly lighten blonde hair and bring out natural highlights. Adding some chopped rhubarb while preparing the rinse will heighten the effect.14 15
These can take care of everyday styling needs you have, but if you are losing a lot of hair, there are a host of ayurvedic remedies for hair fall that you can try.
9. Trim Your Hair Regularly
Regular haircuts are an important part of keeping your hair healthy. A trim can prevent your hair ends from getting damaged and splitting and eventually breaking off. If you wear your hair short, you might need to cut your hair every 4–6 weeks to maintain the style. If you have long or medium length hair, a trim might be needed somewhere between 6–12 weeks depending on how fast your hair grows. Time it so that you avoid split ends and damaged hair ends.16
10. Feed Your Hair
Like the rest of you, your hair does well when you eat right. Have a balanced healthy diet for healthy hair. Ideally, a little over a third of your diet should be made up of vitamin- and mineral-rich fruits and vegetables, while an equal quantity should be made up of starchy foods or whole grains. Also include low-fat dairy products and protein-rich eggs, beans, fish, pulses, or meat in your diet and limit fat, salt, and sugar. Healthy fats found in foods such as sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon, and avocados are particularly good for your hair.17
|↑1||How often to wash hair?. Colombia University.|
|↑2, ↑10||How to stop damaging your hair . American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑3, ↑5||Tips for healthy hair. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑4||Hebbar, JV. Living Easy with Ayurveda. Partridge Publishing, 2015.|
|↑6, ↑7||How to stop damaging your hair. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑8||Cox, Lauren, and Janice Cox. EcoBeauty: Scrubs, Rubs, Masks, Rinses, and Bath Bombs for You and Your Friends. Ten Speed Press, 2011.|
|↑9||Al-Waili, N. S. “Therapeutic and prophylactic effects of crude honey on chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.” European journal of medical research 6, no. 7 (2001): 306-308.|
|↑11||How often to wash hair?. Colombia University.|
|↑12||Breedlove, Greta. Herbal Treatments for Healthy Hair: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-221. Storey Publishing, 1999.|
|↑13||Breedlove, Greta. Herbal Treatments for Healthy Hair: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-221. Storey Publishing, 1999.|
|↑14||Galvin, Daniel. World of Hair Colour: Art and Techniques of Modern Hair Colouring. Springer, 2016.|
|↑15||Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. Storey Publishing, 2008.|
|↑16||Thompson, Kendra. It’s All About You: It’s All About You, Simply Nutrition, Simple Fitness and Beauty, Art Appreciation, Out and About. Troubador Publishing Ltd, 2015.|
|↑17||Roizen, Michael F., and Mehmet Oz. YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner’s Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty. Simon and Schuster, 2008.|