How to keep your hair healthy
By Sadira Sittampalam
Hair is such an important factor in a person’s look. This is why making sure your hair looks good and well-maintained is vital in looking confident. The problem is that your hair is constantly prone to damage. Things like dullness, thinning, dryness, greasiness, breakage, frizz etc., are constant stresses and basically, everyone has gone through at least one of these issues. While there is no shortcut to having healthier hair, it is well worth the commitment. Moreover, with only a few changes to your routine, having great hair can become effortless.
Have a healthy diet
Diet is such a huge factor in having healthy hair, but so many people overlook this - being healthy will only give you healthier hair. It doesn’t matter whether you take hair supplements or have the best hair care routine if you aren’t eating healthily. So here are some tips for eating healthy and for eating to ensure your hair looks great. First off, eat more protein. Hair is made primarily out of protein, so eat at least 45 grams of protein daily. Diets with inadequate protein can result in weak, brittle hair, and even loss of hair. Secondly, get enough zinc from your diet, as zinc deficiency can cause hair to shed. You should have an abundance of vegetables, fruits, leafy greens and filtered water. You should also increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids which will improve scalp health. Good sources of this include flax seeds, yoghurt, cottage cheese, salad and cereal.
Brush your hair before you shower
When your hair is wet, it is a lot more prone to breakage, so you should never think to brush your hair in the shower or even after your shower. Instead, take 60 seconds to detangle those strands right before you have a shower. This also helps distribute the natural oils from your scalp down to the ends of your hair. Additionally, after your shower, it will be smooth and ready to go.
Shampoo your hair according to your hair type
Not everyone needs to shampoo daily. Experts have agreed that only a small group of people need to shampoo daily; such as those with very fine hair, people who exercise a lot (and sweat) or someone living in a very humid place. You also need to shampoo often if you have an oily scalp, however, a lot of the time, daily washing dries out your scalp to such a degree that your scalp overproduces oil. Thus, in this case, you should slowly space out shampooing, gradually going from shampooing every day to every other day and so on, while seeing whether you notice any changes in how oily your hair gets. If you are still very oily after a month of changing up your shampooing habits, you are probably one of the few who needs to wash your hair every day. If you have very curly hair or thick hair, you can probably get away with less shampooing as your hair will absorb all those oils. You should also be using the correct amount of shampoo.
Use the right amount of shampoo
Many people think that the amount of shampoo to use is proportional to the amount of hair; however, we all should actually be using the same amount of shampoo. This is because shampoo is mainly to be applied on your scalp, not the hair itself. Two full teaspoons are the recommended amount, however, this might slightly vary depending on your hair texture. Remember to apply this directly to your scalp and give it a good massage. Your ends will be cleaned up when you wash off the shampoo, so you really don’t need to worry about them.
Avoid sulphates at all costs! You might think you have a dry scalp but it might just be these sulphates that are drying out your hair. You should always check what type of shampoo you are using and make sure it doesn’t contain any sulfates, as it is a very drying ingredient (ammonium lauryl sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate are the main ones to avoid). Once you switch to a better sulfate-free shampoo, your hair will be a lot easier to maintain. Quite a lot of shampoo brands use this ingredient - so make sure you read the ingredient list very carefully the next time you make a purchase.
Condition your hair correctly
It goes without saying that you should be conditioning your hair every time you shampoo. However, as with shampoo, you should be using a lot less than you’d think to use. For short hair, a 5 rupee coin amount is sufficient, for medium length a 10 rupee coin is correct and for especially long hair you should be using a dollop that is just a little bigger than a 10 rupee coin. You should apply your conditioner first to the mid-shaft region and ends of your hair, and only then work it up to the scalp. Do not forget to apply a little to the scalp as this area also needs a little hydration. You should leave the conditioner on for a good 3-5 minutes before washing it off.
Use a hair mask
To keep your hair hydrated and smooth, a nice moisturising hair mask would help. This is especially important if you are using heat styling on your hair. Coconut oil is a great natural conditioner and works well for a lot of people. You should leave it on for 3-4 hours or overnight and then wash it off with a good shampoo.
Avoid heat and sun
As comforting as a hot shower can be, hot showers are terrible for your hair. It irritates your scalp and weakens your hair as it grows out. This doesn’t mean you have to only have cold showers - as long as your water is lukewarm it is fine. If you could add a quick cold-water rinse at the end of your shower to seal the cuticles shut and boosts shine, that would be beneficial. You should also limit your use of heat styling tools as they really are terrible for your hair. Try to only style your hair on special occasions, or turn the heat tool down as much as you can if absolutely necessary. Finally, UV rays don’t just damage your skin, it also damages your hair. You should consider using a shampoo with UV protection or use a leave-in styler to protect your strands from the sun. If all else fails, you can always opt for getting a nice wide-brimmed hat that will protect both your face and your hair from the sun.
Sleeping can place a lot of stress on your hair as you constantly toss and turn during the night. The best solution to this is to swap out your cotton pillowcase for a silk alternative as it protects the cuticle of your hair by reducing the amount of friction between your hair and the fabric (not to mention it is so silky and comfortable to sleep on). You can also sleep with your hair in a loose low braid to give you more control of your hair when you sleep.