Good hair care starts with how you treat your hair, body and scalp.
Most hair problems are essentially problems with the scalp which can be affected by the over-production or under-production of oils, dermatitis and infections. Stress and how well your body absorbs the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients also affects the hair growth. If your hair is over-oily, too dry, brittle, falling out, splitting or the general condition is poor – this can be an indication that your general health may need to be examined.
A nutritional deficiency may be the cause of some hair problems. Some say that our hair is a reflection of our general health.
Your Hair Type
Hair tends to fall into certain categories. Some people have oily hair which means that the sebaceous glands are slightly overactive, producing more oil. This extra oil lubricates the hair and skin and gives them a more ‘greasy’ appearance. Your hair may also be dry with split ends. This is the result of an underactive sebaceous gland. You also may have dry hair as a result of excessive use of chemical products on your hair. You may be one of the lucky ones and have normal hair which is neither too oily or too dry.
Dandruff is also a problem which may be encountered either with oily or dry types. This condition is the result of a disorder in the sebaceous gland in the scalp, which produces more scales of skin than necessary.
Nutrition for Hair
The best way you can care for your hair nutritionally is to…
- eat plenty of natural foods that come from a balanced diet,
- get plenty of aerobic exercise,
- limit your intake of the ‘naughty’ things such as refined foods, alcohol, sugar, caffeine and highly saturated fatty foods.
- You may consider taking a supplement of essential fatty acids (or eating more apricots, wheatgerm and linseed oils), silica, or a good multivitamin preparation.
Some hair problems can also be caused by a deficiency in zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C or iron. Brewer’s yeast and vitamin B5 are also good for the hair. It is not wise to take the vitamin B’s separately – take them as acomplex or group.
Nutrition for the different hair types-
- Oily hair types – eat more fresh fruit and foods containing vitamin B2, such as brewer’s yeast, natural yoghurt, cheese, eggs, liver, spinach, brussel sprouts and other green leafed vegetables.
- Dry hair/split end types – eat more of the essential fatty acids. Such as avocados, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, yeast extract, tomatoes and egg yolk, cheese and natural yoghurt, milk.
- Dandruff types – eat more brown rice, wholegrain breads and pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, and rich protein foods such as meat, eggs, nuts and milk.
General Hair Care
It is a good idea to brush your hair before washing it to remove the dead skin cells and to remove any tangles. Always be careful of the ends while brushing, to avoid breakages and splitting. Brush slower through the ends and be gentle. Use bristle brushes as these brushes distribute the oils more evenly, coating and nourishing the ends of your hair.
Always choose a good shampoo which is suitable for your hair type. You can also add some aromatherapy essential oils to the shampoo to aid certain conditions and hair types.
To wash hair –
- Use warm water to wet the hair – water which is too hot can burn your scalp and hair.
- Use only a small amount of shampoo and place into your palm.
- Smooth the shampoo over your hair with your fingers.
- Massage the shampoo into your hair for about 1 – 2 minutes. (the massage is great for your scalp and circulation).
- If your hair is long – don’t lather up the ends as they will get washed as you rinse your hair.
- Rinse out the shampoo – if there is a lot of lather, your shampoo may be high in detergent and not as good for your hair. Make sure you rinse all the shampoo out.
- You do not have to shampoo again unless the hair is particularly dirty.
- Do not brush your hair at this stage when it is wet as the hair is very weak and can break easily.
- Condition your hair with a conditioner which suits your hair type as well. If your scalp is oily – don’t put the conditioner on the scalp, use on the ends only.
- Leave the conditioner on for the required time (usually 1-5 minutes) and rinse out thoroughly.
Note – about once per week, invest in a protein conditioner or a more intensive treatment. This is good for dry hair or hair which has been treated with chemicals. Comb through and cover with a shower cap and towel. Leave for one hour and shampoo out.
(see section on aromatherapy for the hair)
Remember also not to brush hair when it is wet – use a wide toothed comb to get out the tangles. This is when the hair is particularly vulnerable and can break easy.
If you wash your hair everyday, it is a good idea not to blow dry it everyday as well. This can cause damage to the hair shaft and split ends. Try to let it dry naturally every second time you wash your hair at least. Put the dryer on a low setting and do not use it too close to your hair.
You should have regular cuts – at least every 6 weeks to remove the longest ends. Speak with your hairdresser about the condition of your hair. He or she may also recommend having a conditioning treatment at the same time.