Like the skin, the hair reflects inner health and well-being. If you are eating well, getting adequate sleep and feel good about yourself, chances are your hair will show this. Medications, ill health, stress and fatigue can all affect lustrous, healthy hair, leaving it dull, hard to manage and you having a ‘bad hair day!’
Regular visits to the hairdresser can do wonders for your soul! It’s time out and there is nothing nicer than having your hair washed by someone else. But keeping hair healthy does not have to take a lot of time or money. Treatments at home are also effective and beneficial.
Choosing good quality hair care products is one of the first steps to healthy hair. Many shampoos claim to be ‘herbal’ but when you read the list of ingredients, the herbal content is somewhere very near the bottom, meaning there is very little of it in there. So be discerning about what you buy.
Commercial shampoos are basically made with the same formula as carpet shampoos. One of the main ingredients is Sodium Laurel Sulphate, an emulsifying agent, also found in engine degreasers. We have become accustomed to believing that foam and lots of lather is a sign that the product is an excellent cleanser. But this is not the case, all that lather is for our gratification.
Other questionable ingredients include:
- Propylene Glycol – is a form of mineral oil, an alcohol produced by the fermentation of yeast and carbohydrates. It is used as an active ingredient in engine coolants and antifreeze, paints, enamels and varnishes and in many products as a solvent or surfectant. The pharmaceutical grade used in skincare and haircare is said to be slightly less problematic but regardless it is seen as a toxin to be avoided. It can set off allergic reactions in people suffering with eczema and other skin allergies even in dosages less than the 50% dilution recommended pharmaceutical grade. Propylene glycol is said to cause dry skin and skin irritation.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Laureth Sulfate – is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands or cosmetic products as well as industrial cleaners. It is present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair colour and bleaching agents, toothpaste, body washes, cleansers, soaps and laundry detergents. The real problem with SLS and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is that the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in it being contaminated with dioxane, a carinogenic-by-product. Can cause irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption and possible mutations. It may also corrode hair follicles. The main thing to be aware of is the gradual, cumulative effects of long term related exposures. And if you look at how many products used on a daily bases – many times a day – this is not hard.
- Isopropyl Alcohol – is a petroleum derived substance that cleans and dissolves oils but is also found in antifreeze, wood varnish and shellac. Alcohol is extremely drying and strips the hair of moisture which can lead to damage and loss.
- Mineral oil – is a colorless, odorless petroleum product used in many lotions, creams, ointments and cosmetics. It is used to reduce water loss from the skin and hair however it is contaminated with toxins like mineral oil hydrocarbons which have been found in the fatty tissue and breast milk from an accumulation effect. It is a known fact that petroleum mineral products clog pores! And there is no known benefits of mineral oil at all.
- Formaldehyde – is a chemical preservative that kills bacteria but is also a well known carcinogen that irritates the eyes and respiratory system and can cause skin inflammation.
So check your ingredients. If you really like your shampoo – even the more natural ingredients – then try diluting it by half with water. You may be impressed to see it cleans just as well, is far more gentle on your hair and has cost you half the price!
Detergent-based shampoos can strip the hair of all its natural oil, which is why you often require a conditioner as well. Opt for shampoos free of the more harmful ingredients. There are definitely more natural ones available and once you start using them you may well notice a significant difference. My personal favourite is an exceptional range called Everescents who offer a pure and natural range that is plant based using certified organic ingredients.
Another great hair care tip is to try washing your hair less. Once or twice a week is more than enough. The body creates it’s only nourishing oils to give your hair its shine and luster but if we over wash the hair it can get excessively oily or dry and brittle.
Just remember if you have been using more harsh shampoos and conditioners for a while it may take a few weeks for the hair to adapt to the less chemical ones. As with skin care, allow 28 days for new products to take their effect, and don’t give up on them.
After you have washed and conditioned your hair, a lovely way to finish is with an aromatic hair rinse. These add vitality to your hair and leave a gorgeous light aroma around your head. Before you hop in the shower or bath to wash your hair, simply fill a 100ml glass bottle with warm water. Add 4 drops total of your chosen essential oils then shake the bottle well. Just before you hop out of the shower, turn the tap off, squeeze the excess water out of your hair, take your bottle and shake a couple of times, then tilt your head back and allow the aromatic rinse to pour through your hair. Good essential oils to use would be:
Essential oils for your hair rinse:
Dark Hair: 1 drop Geranium, 1 drop Lavender and 2 drops Rosewood
Light Hair: 2 drops Rosemary, 1 drop Chamomile, 1 drop Lemon
Red Hair: 1 drop Orange, 2 drops Geranium, 1 drop Frankincense
Normal Hair: 1 drop Lemon, 2 drops Lavender, 1 drop Clary Sage
Dry Hair: 2 drop Rosemary, 1 drop Geranium, 1 drop Sandalwood
Oily Hair: 1 drop Peppermint, 2 drops Lemon, 1 drop Cypress