I’ve spent hundreds of hours straightening my hair with a flat iron, and thousands of dollars on expensive conditioning treatments. All of my time and money was spent in an attempt to tame my thick, wavy hair to a standard of beauty that I don’t easily fit into. One of my favorite hairdressers (and like you I’ve had my fair share of bad hairdresser experiences), once told me ‘healthy hair is beautiful hair’, and this simple wisdom has stayed with me ever since. It set me on a new path to learn everything I could about how to achieve sleek, healthy and beautiful hair through nourishing and protecting it. Here’s what I’ve learned:
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1. Eat For Healthy Hair
Having been plant-based/vegan for almost ten years, I can attest to the powers of a wholefoods plant-based diet. To cut to the chase, you should load up your plate with:
- Citrus fruits
Why? Spinach is high in iron, which helps boost hair growth. Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which help to keep your hair silky and smooth. Citrus fruits, and their abundance of Vitamin C help to maintain shine. Carrots are high in Vitamin A, which is not only good for your eyes, but also protects hair follicles. And berries are packed with antioxidants that fight oxidative stress, which can lead to hair loss.
Want to learn more about vegan nutrition? Check out ‘A Guide to Vegan Nutrition: How To Get All The Nutrients You Need’ here.
2. Know Your Hair Type
Most of us know our skin type because we’ve been educated about oily, combination, dry and normal skin types. If you have your skincare routine tailored to your skin type, why is your haircare routine not tailored to your hair type? Hair type is determined by four factors:
- Diameter (i.e. width of each strand)
- Density (i.e. thin or thick)
- Porosity (i.e. how easily it absorbs moisture or products)
- Hair shape (i.e. curly, wavy or straight)
It only makes sense that if you want incredible hair, you need to take proper care of it by using hair products designed for your hair type. Redken has this short, informative article on hair type. Also, PopSugar has this cute gallery of hair types explained.
3. Supplement Wisely
You’ve probably seen a plethora of hair vitamin gummies on the market, maybe you’ve even tried some yourself. The truth is, all of the vitamins and minerals your hair needs to be truly nourished are found in food (and sunlight). Here’s a quick list of hair healthy vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A, C, D and E
- B Vitamins
If you’re not getting everything you need in abundance from your diet, then of course a supplement will help. If you have a balanced diet, eat plenty of green vegetables and fresh fruits and drink plenty of water, you probably don’t need them. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and buying fresh organic produce can get super expensive. Another challenge is that we often don’t have the time necessary to meal prep healthy food.
This is where supplements become super helpful. Here are my top picks:
I recommend Previnex because their products are excellent quality, and for every bottle you buy, they donate one to a malnourished child in need. Their subscribe and save program is also very good value. Their vegan protein shake is so good! It not only contains 20g of protein per serving, but it’s jam packed with vitamins, minerals, branch chain amino acids, a digestive enzyme blend AND a probiotic. Check out the amazing reviews for yourself. Oh and they’ve discounted their probiotic indefinitely until the current COVID-19 pandemic normalizes.
P.S. For 15% off use this link and the code ‘Save15’ 😉
I absolutely love HUM Nutrition, because they have this super fun 3-minute quiz that evaluates your goals and matches you with a personalized regimen that a real RD Nutritionist has tailored to your unique needs and goals. This is worth $100, but they do it for free and I can say from experience that it’s truly valuable. My personal regimen is Hair Sweet Hair, Red Carpet and Daily Cleanse.
You can use this link to get 15% off your personalized 3 product regimen and use the code HUM10 to get $10 off your first order.
An Ayurvedic Remedy For Healthy Hair
I personally love ashwagandha, not only for hair health but also for it’s potent energy boosting, immunity building and mood stabilizing qualities. Commercial shampoos and conditioners often use ashwagandha in their formulations because it supports healthy hair growth, and stimulates natural oil production and scalp circulation. This then leads to glossier locks! It can also help treat scalp issues like dandruff, itchiness and psoriasis and may even help prevent premature graying. The abundance of antioxidants, iron and amino acids in ashwagandha also helps to strengthen the hair shaft and minimize breakage.
If you’re interested in trying hair care with ashwagandha included in the formulations, try:
Esquire Grooming Shampoo (formulated with saw palmetto, pea sprout, chia seed, eucalyptus and ashwagandha). Link here.
ACURE’s Juice Cleanse Supergreens & Adaptogens Conditioner. Link here.
4. Showering Habits For Healthy Hair
I personally love scalding hot showers, but my hair doesn’t and neither does yours. Hot water can dry out your hair, making it weak and prone to breakage. So keep your showers warm, and add a blast of cold water to your hair at the end to seal the cuticles.
When you’re washing your hair, focus the shampoo on your roots and scalp. Unless you have a significant build up of product you don’t need to foam up the lengths with product. Then, focus your conditioner on the lengths as this is where the moisture is needed.
When you’re towel drying your hair, don’t rub it dry roughly. Instead, scrunch it gently. If you want your hair to look like silk, you should handle it like silk.
5. Avoid Sulfates Like The Plague
While we’re thinking about showering, it’s imperative that I discuss sulfates. Sulfates are extremely common in soap, shampoo and conditioner. They help to make the product bubbly and effectively remove dirt and grime. The problem is that they’re very harsh and strip your hair of it’s natural oils. So obviously, this results in dry, brittle hair that’s easily damaged. If you have naturally dry hair like I do, sulfates are especially detrimental.
I made the switch over to sulfate-free hair products about two years ago. It has made an enormous difference to my hair! I’ve noticed a dramatic reduction in frizz and split ends, and my hair is just generally more sleek and healthy. I know from experience that finding the right sulfate-free products can be super overwhelming, so below are three of my absolute favorite brands. All of them are non-toxic, cruelty free, ethical and sustainable. (Note: the two ashwagandha products listed above are also sulfate-free).
The Red Yao women have an incredible hair care culture, and their natural beauty is fast becoming famous worldwide. Even women in their seventies have jet black, thick, long and glossy hair. Viori staff have been tutored personally by the Red Yao women, and they use the same ancient rituals and natural ingredients to handcraft their shampoo and conditioner bars. All Viori hair care products are made with the same natural rice found only in the Longsheng Mountains.
Their shampoo and conditioning bars moisturize, strengthen, regrow, volumize, increase natural shine, repair, and reduce scalp irritation. They’re plastic-free, sustainable, sulfate-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free, pH balanced, ethically sourced. Their only ingredients are: Longsheng Rice™, cocoa & shea butter, rice bran oil, hydrolyzed rice protein, aloe vera, bamboo, vitamin B8, vitamin B5, vitamin E.
Also, they give back to the beautiful Red Yao community by donating 5% of their profits back to them.
Check out Viori here.
Masami products use botanically hydrating Mekabu, which is a type of Japanese seaweed. It’s filled vitamins and minerals from the ocean that nourish your hair, making it healthier and glossier. They have a gentle cleansing shampoo and conditioner, a styling cream and a shine serum. All Masami products are made with clean ingredients, so that means no phthalates, sulfates, or parabens. They also work to protect the natural habitats where their ingredients are sourced.
Check out Masami here.
If you care about the Amazon rainforest, Taya Beauty is a fantastic brand to support. TAYA, Meaning “I am” in the Wayuu dialect, and symbolizes the timeless relationship between ourselves and the rainforest. All Taya products are formulated free of sulfates, parabens, animal products, and animal testing. Taya is also 100% vegan friendly. With your purchase, you are benefiting hundreds of families in numerous communities throughout the Rainforest who harvest and supply Taya’s raw ingredients through a system of collaborative regional management, while at the same time preserving the region’s native, natural resources in a sustainable manner.
They have an amazing range of beautiful products. Shampoos, conditioners (both leave-in and rinse out), treatments and masks, various styling products, serums and even brushes and combs.
Check out Taya Beauty here.
6. After Shower Habits For Healthy Hair
Put away the blow dryer. I used to flat iron my hair EVERY SINGLE MORNING before school. I also bleached it blonde for good measure, and it was a hot mess. Now, I only rarely use a blow dryer, and instead let my hair air dry, and occasionally style it with a flat iron. If and when you do use a flat iron, you should always, always use a heat protecting serum beforehand. I like Kenra Platinum Blow-Dry Spray, (and so do the 4,000+ other people who’ve given it a 5 star review!)
How often do you clean your hair brush? Hair brushes naturally accumulate a lot of hair, dead skin cells, hair product residue and more often than not, dust. I recommend spending 10 minutes once a month (or more!) removing the accumulated hair and rinsing each brush in warm water with a squirt of shampoo for good measure.
Personally, I only use a comb now, because that’s what works best for my hair. I find that I get a lot less breakage because of how much gentler a comb is at detangling. The scalp massage a good wooden comb gives is also a bonus. I can recommend The Body Shop Detangling Comb, or if you prefer a comb with a handle, Onedor’s Sandalwood Hair Comb is great too.
7. Lock In Moisture
If you’re like me and your hair is naturally dry (see #2 for more information on diagnosing your hair type), then adding moisture to your hair is essential. If you live in dry or windy climates, then definitely don’t skip this step! I love putting a squirt of oil through my length while it’s still damp to lock in moisture.
Recently I’ve also been enjoying the benefits of dry oiling, which is essentially adding a small amount of oil to the lengths of your hair between washes. There are a plethora of oils that are great for nourishing your hair and adding shine. My personal favorites include:
- Coconut oil – When your hair needs deep conditioning, coconut oil is the perfect inexpensive and effective treatment. This Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is the best of the best.
- Argan oil – Moroccan Oil’s line of argan oil products are famous for a reason. If you have super dry, damaged hair, you need to try this treatment, it’s pricey but worth every penny and lasts for ages.
- Grapeseed oil – I am currently using The Body Shop Grapeseed Glossing Serum and love how lightweight it is. Smells great too!
If your hair tends more towards oiliness, using a natural dry shampoo is a great way to refresh your hair between washes. You can do this with this natural zero waste recipe. All you need is bentonite clay, cornstarch powder and cocoa powder if you have dark hair. I’ve tried this before and had mixed results, as I’m brunette mixing a bit of cocoa powder with the cornstarch helped it blend in better. However, I prefer this dry shampoo for refreshing my hair between washes.
8. Regular Haircuts
I had a huge problem with split ends for years, and I compounded my problem by picking and snipping at them on my own. Don’t make the same mistake as me! If you do find yourself needing to trim your hair every now and then, make sure you have a pair of proper scissors like these on hand. You could even learn how to cut your hair yourself, here’s a tutorial on how to do just that.
However, most of us should be visiting the hairdresser every six to eight weeks to snip off dry ends and enjoy some well deserved TLC.
Follow these habits to keep your hair in enviable condition. Do you already have some of these habits? Will you be adopting any new ones? Let me know in the comments below.
More Healthy Habits
My FREE ebook Refresh is a collection of eight healthy habits that I’ve picked up along my journey. Don’t worry, they’re not the usual ones you’ve heard before – we all know we should drink more water. Instead, these habits are lesser known and have seriously improved my life.
They’ve helped me reduce stress, be more productive and improve my mood.
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