Beautiful hair makes everyone feel good. There are not many feelings that beat that ‘just stepped out of the salon’ feeling, when you instantly feel confident, more attractive and the world just seems like a better place.
Okay, that might sound like an exaggeration and exactly what the hair care companies are trying to sell to us, but a ‘good hair day’ is always a good day. Though in the real world, we usually lack the time, money and expertise to maintain a head full of swishy, salon-worthy locks. In the real world, we tie our hair back as we rush out of the door to work, hoping that nobody will notice that we had an extra half hour in bed this morning rather than getting up earlier to wash our hair!
Yet we all seem to know that one person who always looks like they could have just stepped out of a shampoo commercial. They have bouncy, smooth, effortlessly healthy hair and we look on in envy, as we wrestle with tangles and straightening irons. What is their secret, we wonder? Could it be that they have the basics of good hair care nailed, or do they have a secret weapon?
- 1 The basics of good haircare
- 1.1 Don’t wash your hair every day
- 1.2 Don’t overwash coloured hair
- 1.3 Think about your lifestyle and hair type
- 1.4 Remember that dry shampoo is your friend
- 1.5 When you do shampoo, don’t overdo the product
- 1.6 Treat your scalp to a circulation boosting massage
- 1.7 Don’t use hot water to wash your hair
- 1.8 Towel dry your hair before applying conditioner
- 1.9 Deep condition the hair
- 1.10 Comb wet hair, don’t brush it
- 1.11 Use a low setting for drying hair
- 1.12 Try oil
- 1.13 But doesn’t hair oil just make my hair greasy?
- 1.14 Is there a particular oil I should be using?
- 1.15 What is sweet almond oil?
- 1.16 What are the main benefits for hair?
- 1.17 It’s a great moisturiser for the hair
- 1.18 It makes hair shiny and healthy looking
- 1.19 It helps you grow healthy, thicker and longer hair
- 1.20 It treats dandruff
- 1.21 It reduces scalp inflammation
- 1.22 It repairs hair damage
- 1.23 It controls hair loss
- 1.24 It makes hair more manageable
- 1.25 How to use it on the hair
- 1.26 To treat the scalp
- 1.27 To encourage hair growth
- 1.28 For shiny hair
- 1.29 For split ends
- 1.30 For silky soft hair
- 1.31 Is it safe for me to use?
- 1.32 Final thoughts
The basics of good haircare
Expert hairdressers from around the world agree that there are certain steps we should take if we want our hair to be healthy. These rules are the ‘holy grail’ of hair care. No matter your hair type, follow these hair rules and banish bad hair days forever.
Don’t wash your hair every day
This strips your hair of natural oils which protect your hair. If you strip away the oils, the hair follicles go into overdrive and produce more oil, making your hair feel dirty and lank. So you keep on washing it, stripping the oil away, and here begins the vicious cycle. Hair appears greasy, lank and dull. Experts agree that you should wash your hair two to three times per week, maximum.
Don’t overwash coloured hair
Your colour will lose it’s sheen very quickly. You should invest in a good quality shampoo which is specifically designed for use on coloured hair. If you want to rinse your hair in between washes, you can rinse then condition your hair every other day. Shampooing every day can wash out your colour and cost you more in salon visits in the long run.
Think about your lifestyle and hair type
If you have curly hair, it tends to be drier, so you can probably get away with washing your hair less often. If you have poker straight locks they will tend to get oilier faster as the oil is able to work it’s way down the hair shaft more quickly.
If you’re a gym bunny, this might affect how often you have to wash your hair. Try rinsing rather than shampooing if you can’t bear the thought of sweaty hair after a workout. And yes, a water-only rinse will still get rid of salt and sweat without stripping natural oils.
Remember that dry shampoo is your friend
Using dry shampoo instead of washing your hair every day reduces oil build up in your hair and gives it amazing texture. You can leave it in instead of brushing it out for extra volume (note: shake well and spray 30cms from the head or you will look as if you have been attacked with baby powder!). Dry shampoo refreshes your hair at the roots while helping it retain the moisture it needs to stay healthy.
When you do shampoo, don’t overdo the product
Many of us assume that more product means cleaner, healthier hair, but that isn’t strictly true. First you need to make sure that you’re using the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type and for how damaged it might be. The amount of shampoo you need to use depends on the length and thickness of your hair. You should use a dollop of shampoo about the size of a 20p coin for shorter to mid-length hair and a 50p-size amount for longer hair. How many of you are thinking ‘oops…’ right now?
Shampoo should be aimed at the scalp, not the ends of the hair. The shampoo will rinse down to the end in the shower. Scrubbing the ends only causes damage.
Treat your scalp to a circulation boosting massage
Giving your head an invigorating massage as you shampoo is a good way to increase circulation and helps to detoxify the scalp, as well as being a little in-shower treat and de-stresser. Healthy hair begins at the scalp, so treat it kindly!
Don’t use hot water to wash your hair
Blasting your scalp with hot water will dry out your hair and cause tangles that lead to breakage. You wouldn’t use boiling hot water on your facial skin and your scalp is just as delicate, so treat it with respect!
Towel dry your hair before applying conditioner
Towel dry your hair after shampooing as excess water in the hair will stop your conditioner penetrating the hair shaft. If you’re short on time, squeeze out excess water because hair that’s saturated with water doesn’t have room for absorbing anything else. When applying your conditioner, concentrate on the ends, not the roots.
Deep condition the hair
This will add moisture and protein back into the hair. Apply the conditioner while having a shower or cover the hair with a shower cap as the heat will make the treatment penetrate the hair more effectively. Aim to do this once per week.
Comb wet hair, don’t brush it
Soaking wet hair is more fragile and vulnerable to breakage. Blot the hair with a towel, don’t rub it and use a wide tooth comb to detangle, working from the ends up.
Use a low setting for drying hair
Point the hairdryer nozzle downwards, three inches from your hair- use a low heat setting and use a heat protection product. Try not to use heat styling tools every day. If you have a blow dry at the start of the week, wear a ponytail or plait hair before bed for beachy waves to get you through the next few days. There will be no heat damage to speak of.
Every hair stylist has their favourite products to give hair that extra dose of lustre and shine, and many professionals now rank hair treatment oil as the go to product for giving their clients healthy, shiny hair. Just like facial oil helps regulate your skin’s oil production, hair oil does the same for your scalp. Don’t be afraid to use oil if you have oily hair. It can seem counter-intuitive, but if your hair feels hydrated by the oil, it won’t feel the need to produce more oil to compensate. Though do use it in moderation, you can always add more later if your hair needs it.
But doesn’t hair oil just make my hair greasy?
The answer is a resounding no. The experts say that it’s time that we forgot everything we thought we knew about oils because there’s a new generation of products that exist now. And they don’t leave your hair looking like an oil slick.
The best hair oils are multi-tasking products that do the job of your leave-in conditioner, anti-frizz serum and shine spray all in one. This means more money in your pocket and more room on your bathroom shelf! Definitely a win-win situation.
Always remember to apply the oil from mid-lengths to ends to avoid an oily scalp. Start off with a small amount and add more if your hair needs it.
Is there a particular oil I should be using?
There are a lot of oils on the market, but there’s one in particular which has been noted as being super-effective for helping you achieve luscious lustrous locks.
Sweet almond oil is multi purpose, but it is being increasingly recognised as a go to treatment for healthy hair. It keeps fresh for up to a year and is relatively inexpensive,100% natural and incredibly versatile.
What is sweet almond oil?
Almonds have long been known as a ‘health food’, due to their skin-loving and cardio-protective vitamin E content. They are a potent source of ‘healthy fats’ and are an excellent healthy snack choice. But the benefits don’t stop there. The essential oil derived from the humble almond nourishes the body inside and out and is being hailed as a health and beauty wonder.
Sweet almonds are native to the Middle East and South Asia. They have long been used in healing, medicines and in cooking. There are two types of commercially grown almonds, sweet almonds and a bitter variety.
But it is the sweet variety that is most beneficial when it comes to hair health. The combination of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, along with vitamins E (full of antioxidants) , D (supports skin health) , A (maintains healthy cell membranes) and particular B vitamins known to support healthy hair growth make it a perfect choice to use to grow and maintain healthy hair, naturally.
What are the main benefits for hair?
Most hair care products that exist today are man-made and often contain undesirable chemicals which may cause irritation to the scalp with repeated use over time. Almond oil is completely natural and is suitable for use on all skin types.
It’s a great moisturiser for the hair
The healthy fat content of the oil means that it is very moisturising for the hair and penetrates the hair shaft easily. It takes longer to evaporate away than water-based products so it forms a protective coating on the hair to lock in moisture.
It makes hair shiny and healthy looking
Throw out the shine sprays and leave-in conditioners. The oil’s vitamin E content leaves hair soft and shiny, as it seals the cuticle and protects each individual strand of hair.
It helps you grow healthy, thicker and longer hair
The nutrients in the oil both reduce the amount of incidental hair loss, and nourish hair follicles for healthy hair growth.
It treats dandruff
The oil removes dead cells and also nourishes the scalp. It is ideal as a pre-shampoo moisturising treatment.
It reduces scalp inflammation
The scalp is exposed to many irritants on a daily basis including pollution, heat and chemicals in styling products. This can lead to irritation, dandruff and even hair loss. Massaging almond oil into the scalp is very moisturising and soothing for the skin due to its high fatty acid content. A healthy scalp is the basis for healthy hair.
It repairs hair damage
The almond oil provides the nutrients necessary for repair. It forms a protective layer, coating each hair strand to protect from further damage. The oil will add a lustre and sheen so damaged hair will not appear dull, as it often can.
It controls hair loss
While this is not scientifically proven, users have reported a reduced rate of hair loss after consistent use of the product on a regular basis. The oil is actually an ingredient in a number of hair growth treatments currently on the market.
It makes hair more manageable
Bye bye to flyaways! The oil smooths cuticles and coats the hair to make it smoother and more manageable.
How to use it on the hair
To treat the scalp
Apply a few drops of oil into the palms of your hands then massage the oil into the scalp working it thoroughly through the hair. Leave it on for around 45 minutes, or if you are able, overnight (wear a towel or shower cap on your head to protect your pillow!). Rinse thoroughly with your regular shampoo, ensuring there is no oil left in the hair.
To encourage hair growth
Mix 3 tbsp of almond oil in a bowl with 3 tbsp of castor oil. Warm the mixture slightly, apply to the scalp and massage it in for several minutes. Wrap your head in a towel and leave it on for an hour. Wash your hair as normal. Repeat this treatment twice per week for a few months to encourage healthy hair growth.
For shiny hair
Rub a few drops of almond oil on your palms and apply it to the hair, concentrating on mid-lengths and ends. Remember to apply it sparingly initially. A little goes a long way and it’s tempting to go overboard with the application. Less is more.
For split ends
Coat the ends of your hair with a few drops of oil, leave overnight and rinse in the morning to seal and treat split ends.
For silky soft hair
Mix 3 tbsp of almond oil with an egg. Apply the mixture to your hair and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Wash it off with cool water and allow it to towel dry if possible.
Is it safe for me to use?
Almond oil is a natural product and doesn’t contain any synthetic nasties which might cause irritation, but obviously, it is derived from nuts, so avoid it if you even have the slightest hint of a nut allergy. Almond oil in its purest form is likely to cause a stronger adverse reaction. You can obtain similar beauty benefits from using coconut oil instead of an oil derived from nuts if you have an allergy.
Healthy nut products, such as almond milk, have paved the way for almonds to be used in beauty products such as soaps, body oils and hair treatments. Almond oil is following on from coconut oil as being the new ingredient on the block, and has been hailed as a wonder treatment by the beauty industry. However, the reality is that most of these products have been used for a long time before the industry jumped on the bandwagon. Our ancestors and our grandparents applied oils directly to their skin, and they were definitely on to something. Oils are multi-tasking products and are suitable for most skin types. Almond oil can be used for the hair, face and body, making it an inexpensive all-rounder. Think of all of the money and bathroom space you could save by just investing in one product that appears to do it all.
Almond oil is all natural and sold in its purest form, whereas synthetic ingredients in commonly sold manufactured beauty products can cause irritation and skin reactions. More and more these days, clued- up consumers are switching to beauty products with health benefits, and to those that have a conscience.
A lot of big beauty brands have caught on and are incorporating almond oil into their products, including facial oils, body lotions and shower oils. The products are definitely worth a try, but obviously won’t be as potent as the real thing, because there will usually be a low concentration of oil in the product and it won’t be in its purest form.
As is so often in life, for the healthiest and purest results, Mother Nature knows best, and who are we to argue?