Our hair is a reflection of who we are. For a woman, beautiful healthy hair equals femininity. If our hair doesn’t look and feel good neither do we. A bad hair day seriously affects our self-esteem, whether we are having to deal with frizz, grease or flyaways. We spend millions on hair products every year, and a study suggested that the average woman will spend £50,000 on products and treatments and in hair salons over the course of a lifetime. Healthy hair as well as being a confidence booster, is also a sign of good health. If our hair is in poor condition, it’s a sure sign that all is not well with us on the inside.
As well as eating well, there are steps we can take to improve the condition of our hair, so we have more good hair days than bad.
How to keep hair healthy.
Healthy hair creates a good first impression. It’s one of the attributes that often defines us and is what people tend to notice when meeting us for the first time. To have healthy hair we need to look after it. We can do this by getting regular trims to get rid of split ends. Not only are split ends unsightly, if they aren’t dealt with, the hair will be damaged further until eventually the hair has split all the way up the shaft and needs to be cut off. Hair should be cut every 6-8 weeks ideally to promote healthy growth. You should always use the correct products for your hair type, just as you wouldn’t use a moisturiser for dry skin if your skin was oily, you need to apply the same principles to your hair. The right products will work with your natural hair type and give it exactly what it needs. When you do wash your hair, take care not to brush your hair when it’s wet. It is more vulnerable to breakage, so use a wide-tooth comb instead to detangle your locks. Try to let hair dry naturally as much as possible, as constant exposure to heat styling can make your hair dry and damaged. Create beachy waves by plaiting damp hair before bed, no heat required! Chemicals can damage your hair just as much as heat so try and avoid using hair colourants. If you do want to colour your hair you can get henna or vegetable based products in most health food stores. As well as keeping products you use on your hair natural, remember to treat your scalp with kindness too. Treat your scalp to a nourishing treatment once per week. After all, healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp.
Your lifestyle plays as much of a part in keeping your hair healthy as the products you use. Always make sure that you eat well, and that your diet contains plenty of protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. So consume plenty of eggs, milk and dairy foods, leafy veg, nuts and whole grains. Don’t go on crash diets either, as they deplete your body of vitamins and minerals.
And lastly, be happy! Stress is bad for hair health and is a leading cause of hair loss.
The main hair types
Of course, whatever you do, you can’t outdo your natural hair type. If your hair is naturally straight you probably complain that when you curl it, the curls don’t stay in. If your hair is naturally curly, you probably lament the fact that you can’t step out in the rain without looking like a poodle. What you should do is start working with your natural hair type rather than fighting it all the time. To find out what your hair type is, look at it when it’s damp, with no products on it. How does it look? Smooth, rough, frizzy or shiny? Here’s a guide to basic hair types to help you work out where your natural locks fall in the scheme of things.
Fine, very straight hair- hair doesn’t hold a curl very well and this hair type can get oily quickly. You should use dry shampoo to give hair some texture and avoid rich conditioners, as these can leave hair limp and greasy looking.
Straight hair with a bit of a flick at the ends- this hair type is fuller, and tends to have a natural bend at the ends. Use a dry shampoo to lift hair at the roots and use a hair straightener to make ends behave.
Straight hair with a wave underneath- this hair is thicker again. It’s still straight but underneath there’s a wavy layer. You should find that if you curl your hair, it stays put. However, you are more prone to frizz, so use a serum to coat strands before you step outside.
Wavy hair- lucky you, your hair is neither straight nor curly, but it is tough to style waves. If you get it wrong they can just look wild and if you apply too many products, the waves can look lifeless and flat.
Natural bed head- there’s a natural kink in each strand, which looks amazing if you style it right, though most people with this hair type do tend to straighten their locks for a sleeker finish.
Relaxed waves- think surfer chick. You either have these waves naturally or you style them with salt spray. Your hair will look amazing if you style it with your fingers and some mousse. Avoid the ‘crunchy’ mousse finish by using a few drops of hair oil after the mousse.
Thicker waves- your hair is thick and curly, but your curls have perfect definition, they aren’t frizzy. Again, your hair will look great if you style it with your fingers and mousse. Make sure you deep condition hair every week though as the curlier your locks are, the drier they tend to be.
Curly hair- your curls are large but the curls are mixed with waves. To make your curls defined, scrunch your hair while you dry it. This hair type is easy to straighten, but is prone to heat damage too.
Spiral curls- your hair falls in spirals and hangs down rather than grows outwards. Mix light gel products and leave-in conditioners to keep hair smooth.
Thick curls- this hair type is more prone to frizz. Your hair has clearly defined corkscrew curls. To avoid dry ‘crunchy’ curls, use a good conditioner.
Afro hair- this hair type is coarse and dry. Because of the texture, it is hard to give this hair type shine. The hair also shrinks considerably when wet, but don’t fight it, show off your natural locks in all their glory.
Afro hair with smaller curls- You have a head full of tiny ringlet curls. Most people with this hair type find they can just ‘wash and go’. Using a diffuser attachment on your hair dryer helps define curls however.
So generally, finer straighter hair tends towards being greasy and curlier hair is drier and frizzier. Having healthy hair might seem impossible, but you can go some way to achieving the balance between dry hair and looking like you have had your head in a tub of butter. Dry hair is thought of as being damaged and unhealthy, but what if you are on the other end of the spectrum and your hair looks like there’s been an oil slick?
What causes greasy hair?
Does your hair look greasy the day after you wash it? Do you always wear a ponytail to hide your lank, greasy strands? Then your hair is on the oily end of the scale. Greasy hair results from the overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands of the skin. Sebum is a natural oil produced by the skin (including the scalp) to help it retain moisture. If you have oily skin, you are more likely to have greasy hair as sebum production tends to be systemic. There are many causes of greasy hair, from using the incorrect products for your hair and using too much of a product, to factors in your lifestyle and the environment.
Greasy hair looks dirty and unhealthy, but it can also cause some other troublesome issues. You might notice that you get acne around your hairline, neck and behind your ears. You will also be more prone to dandruff. When you have greasy hair, there tends to be a buildup of dead skin cells on your scalp. The greasy texture makes the cells cling to the scalp and so dandruff occurs. Greasy hair is either greasy from the roots to the tips or it can be greasy at the roots and the ends of the hair can be more dry.
What can make hair greasy?
Sweating- our hair can appear greasier when we sweat more, so you might find your locks are oilier if you are a gym bunny or if you are in a hot climate.
Shampooing too often- this can dry out the scalp and send the oil glands into overdrive to compensate.
Hair product build-up- residue from hair products causes greasy hair if the hair is not rinsed adequately.
Hormone imbalance- this can affect how much oil your glands produce.Therefore, teenagers can experience oily spot-prone skin during puberty. Stress hormones can have a similar effect on the glands.
Pollution- the sebaceous glands will produce more oil to protect the scalp from toxins and smoke so the hair can become greasy.
The best way to care for greasy hair
Wash your hair with lukewarm water as hot water will strip the hair of its natural oils and so cause the glands to produce more oil to compensate. Only use conditioner on the ends of your hair, make sure you avoid the roots, and make sure any product is rinsed out, as leftover residue will make the hair greasy. When styling the hair, the fewer products you use the better. Hair sprays and serums can cause residue buildup in your hair as well. These are the general haircare tips for your oily locks, but what else can you do to tone down the oil slick? Here are some proven ways to combat grease.
Say goodbye to greasy locks
- Use Clarifying shampoo. It’s gentle on your hair but tough enough to cut through grease and remove residue and product buildup.
- Sprinkle cornstarch or cornmeal on oily roots or brush it on with a makeup brush to absorb oil.
- Spray dry shampoo onto oily roots, leave for up to a minute and massage it in or brush the hair for a little volume. Take care not to spray it directly onto the scalp as this can cause irritation.
- Use the blotting papers you use to mattify your face-yes, really! Just blot the papers on greasy roots to absorb the oil.
- Clay based masks are excellent for removing excess oils from the hair and nourishing and cleansing the scalp.
- Dab some astringent face product on some cotton wool and apply it to greasy roots. Yes, the remedy for your spots can also remedy your greasy hair. Just be sure not to let it touch the lengths and ends of hair in case it dries it out.
- Lemon juice is a natural astringent. Rinse hair with lemon juice after washing to clarify hair.
- Vinegar rinses work in a similar way, if you can stand the smell!
- Use a natural herbal shampoo on your hair. Natural products are way gentler on your hair and scalp. Look for formulas containing ingredients like seaweed or rosemary which are known for getting rid of grease.
- Take zinc or evening primrose oil supplements. Both are known for regulating the skin’s oil production.
- Keep an eye on your hormones. Imbalances can cause greasy hair and skin.
- Rinse with rosemary. Add half a cup of dried rosemary to some boiling water. Strain the mixture then rinse your hair with it after you shampoo.
- Rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar. Mix two tablespoons of the vinegar with one cup of water and rinse your hair with it after shampooing to remove residue that causes greasy hair.
- Rinse with lavender. Soak some lavender in hot water then rinse your hair with the mixture.
- Salt can remove grease from the hair. Apply it to your scalp, leave it for an hour and rinse away.
- Make your own scalp astringent. Mix witch hazel and mouthwash together and use cotton wool to dab it on the scalp. Do not pour this onto your hair as it will dry the rest of your locks out.
- Make your own pre-shampoo mask. Mix a teaspoon of vodka and two tablespoons of castor oil with 100 g of parsley and hot water. Apply to hair, leave for an hour then rinse to get rid of excess oil.
Our hair is our crowning glory. It makes us feel good and it makes us look good. Healthy hair tells others that we are healthy and that we look after ourselves. We buy product after product which promises healthy, frizz-free shiny hair and often we fail to achieve it. Often the products we use are too harsh and strip our hair of its natural goodness. We work against it, blast it with heat and we still expect it to behave as we wish. What we should be doing is eating a healthy diet, protecting our hair from excessive heat, whether that is from styling tools or from the sun and using natural products where possible.
Our hair needs moisture, nourishment and protein to look its best. But it won’t look at its best if we are not at our best. As well as nourishing the hair from the inside with a good diet full of protein, iron, vitamins and minerals, we need to find ways to manage stress and balance our hormones. Stress hormones can ruin our physical health and our looks, hormone imbalances just make us feel really out of whack.
Your natural hair type is genetically determined, but that doesn’t mean to say that you will be fighting with frizz, grease or dryness for the rest of your life, you just need to show your hair some tender loving care. There are plenty of gentle products on the market that will bring the best out in your hair whether you have sleek locks, curly locks or you are somewhere in-between. Good hair is achievable. If your hair is curly, embrace it. Stop fighting it with straighteners and invest in products and tools to define your natural curls. The chances are there’s a girl out there with straight hair that wants hair just like yours. And if you have perfectly straight hair, just know there is a girl out there who fights with her curls every day wishing she could just wash and go like you! Work with what you have, be gentle with your locks and you will have your best hair yet!