Your hair is your crowning glory! Hair thickness, length and shine have a lot to do with how you treat your mane, but they’re also a reflection of scalp health, which is often ignored and sidelined! But help is at hand, and often the best things to do are also the easiest! You can start at home with these common homemade hair care tips, and other key dos and don’ts to follow.
1 Apply Warm Oil On The Hair
Grandma was right about this! Using a warm, natural oil in your hair can do wonders for scalp health, hair health and texture, and stimulate general wellness too. Here are some oils you should consider including in your regimen.
Coconut oil: This age-old remedy has stood the test of time! It works on all hair types, is locally available and affordable. It does away with dandruff, softens the hair, repairs split-ends and boosts hair growth. It also protects the hair from losing protein. For best results, use extra virgin coconut oil.
Argan oil: Argan oil is non-native to India, but has been catching up recently as a force to reckon with. Extracted from the kernels of the Argan tree, found in Morocco, it is replete with Vitamin E, making it the perfect moisturiser for dry and lacklustre hair, reducing frizz.
Castor oil: The oil extracted from castor seeds has many health benefits, but is particularly good for hair health. It is a great moisturiser and helps prevent the scalp from flaking. It also reduces breakage at the roots, by providing nourishment and lubrication.
Bringhraj: This oil is used extensively in Ayurvedic treatments, and in the beauty industry. Bringhraj oil cannot be used by itself but works best with a carrier oil. It helps activate hair follicles, when massaged into the hair, and stimulates hair growth.
Tip: Choose a natural oil based on your need and hair type and massage well into scalp and hair for optimum hair health.
2 Use Rice Water As A Shampoo And A Rinse For Hair Care
The Chinese village of Huangluo, home to native Red Yao women, is in the Guinness Book of Records as the ‘world’s longest hair village’. The women here boast long, lustrous and healthy hair that is consistently maintained. The villagers believe that it is a symbol of luck, longevity and prosperity. So what is the secret to their fabulously-maintained hair? An ancient but extremely simple Chinese remedy – rice water! This magic potion, used as a natural shampoo and rinse for centuries now, clearly works wonders. In fact, women usually don’t start greying until they’re almost eighty years old! Rice water has a multitude of components with nutritional value for the hair.
Around 16 percent of these are proteins, the building blocks essential to cell health. Triglycerides and lipids each make up 10 percent of the rice water composition, while starch (an extract still used in Japanese cosmetics), is present at 9 percent. Carbohydrates, inositol, phytic acid and inorganic substances are other components in rice water. This is what you get when you boil an average handful of white rice in two cups of hot water and strain out the residue liquid.
Tip: Rice water can be used as a shampoo as often as you shampoo your hair, or as a final rinse, to prevent hair loss and greying.
3 Eggs Can Contribute To Overall Hair Health
An egg mask is perhaps one of the most potent remedies for healthy hair, and for one very good reason – it is the best source of B Vitamins, essential for hair health! Vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin) and B5 (pantothenic acid) are good for hair flexibility, strength and overall wellness. Biotin or Vitamin B7 is especially essential for hair growth, while folic acid can help avoid premature greying. To combat this, eggs make for a fabulous topical application.
Use both the yolk and the white. The yolk works as a moisturiser for dry locks and is also a superfood due to the multitude of nutrients. What’s more, it helps retains the hair’s natural sheen thanks to its moisturising benefits. Crack open two eggs, and then beat its contents well in a bowl. Apply all over hair and scalp and leave on for ten minutes. Rinse well and follow up with your usual shampoo and conditioner regime. Find out how you can make these masks.
4 Apply onion juice all over your hair
Believe it or not, onion juice is replete with nutrients and benefits for hair growth and re-growth. It keeps the scalp free of infection, due to antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and also contain sulphur, which prevents hair from becoming brittle and breaking. They also contain antioxidants, to help prevent hair ageing and thereby greying. If you find the juice to be too pungent-smelling, then you can add a few drops of lavender or peppermint essential oils to nullify it.
Tip:Squeeze the juice of three onions and apply all over scalp and hair to replenish sulphur and protein levels. Leave on for five minutes, and then rinse.
5 Use As Much Green Tea On Your Hair As Possible
Green tea contains EGCG, an antioxidant which is great for the health of hair follicles and dermal papilla cells, contributing to lesser hair loss and thinning. Other benefits include the treatment of dandruff and psoriasis. Scaly and flaky skin on the scalp can be treated with green tea, which regulates the scalp’s protein levels, nourished, hydrates and moisturizes. You can use shampoos with green tea, or even just massage a freshly brewed and cooled cup of green tea onto the hair.
This magic ingredient is also good for the hair, and when used in a conditioner or as a final hair rinse, makes your hair softer, smoother, more nourished, and lesser prone to split ends.
Tip: Green tea is rich in antioxidants, which aids hair follicle health, hydrates and nourishes.
6 Use A Beer Rinse Whenever You Can For Hair Care!
The B vitamins found in beer strengthen each strand and fortify it. Also, the protein found in the malt and hops repair damaged hair to the maximum extent, protecting and replenishing it from effects of harsh styling products, pollution, stress, and other factors like PCOD, pregnancy, post-delivery and so on. Your hair looks shiny, sleek and loses its frizz because the nutrients tighten the cuticles.
Tip: Rinse your hair with beer at least twice a month, to replenish and build lost protein levels.
7 Apply a paste of crushed amala for hair care
The humble amla or Indian gooseberry is a miracle fruit and is often included in hair products, hair tonics and medical streams. Vitamin C in amala helps produce collagen protein, which boosts cell regeneration, stimulates both hair length and volume. Amala contains over 80 percent moisture, and so has hydrating properties. It is a natural scalp cleanser, removes germs, and is also an antioxidant, preventing hair greying and damage.
Tip: Crush 3-4 amala (gooseberries) in a bowl, and apply the pulp with the juice all over the hair and scalp, for optimum benefit.
8 Follow a sensible diet for healthy hair
Hair health also has to do with what’s under the scalp, since it eventually reflects on what’s above! The ‘live’ part of the hair is housed in the follicle, and just like the other organs, derives nutrition from food and the bloodstream. So if you find yourself nutrient-deficient, you’ll find your hair instantly looking lacklustre, dull and thin.
Protein is the building block of healthy hair since it holds each strand together! The hair itself is made up of a protein called keratin, and yours tends to be stripped off it with everyday styling, pollution and stress. Increase the protein levels in your diet by consuming a diet rich in dairy – cottage cheese, other unprocessed cheeses, ghee, yogurt – as well as eggs, poultry, legumes, lentils, green beans and limited amounts of soy.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential to keep your scalp and hair follicles from drying out, reducing inflammation (which is a major cause of hair shedding) and promoting hair growth. Male pattern balding and hair loss in women is often associated with insulin resistance, which in turn is a byproduct of Omega 3 deficiencies. Try salmon, mackerel and sardines. Vegetarians, you can get your daily dose of Omega 3 from avocados, flaxseeds, olive oil and walnuts. Eat vitamins as well – particularly generous helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Zinc is vital to balancing your hormones, and for RNA and DNA production, which in turn affects hair texture and thickness. Oysters are an amazing source of zinc, as are shrimps, mussels, beef, fortified cereals like oatmeal, beans and eggs. Selenium is a trace element that protects the scalp’s tissues from oxidation. Selenium is found in mushrooms, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, brown rice, whole grain rye and crabs.
The body also needs at least 18 mg of iron a day to ensure healthy hair growth and strength, so eat your greens! Silica is important for the absorption of the vitamins you consume. So even if you’re eating up a lot of healthy food, but not getting your daily requirement of silica, it’s a bit lesser effective. Silica-rich foods include bean sprouts, cucumbers and red bell peppers.
Tip: Eat a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, protein, iron, silica and fluids to hydrate.
9 Constantly hydrate yourself for hair care!
While you’re at it, don’t forget to add fluids, particularly water and coconut water to your diet. This keeps the body hydrated. Coconut water contains electrolytes, which help move nutrients into the hair follicle cells.
FAQs: Caring for your hair at home
Q. Can I go to sleep with wet hair?
A. Ideally not. Hair is at its weakest when it is fully wet, and sleeping with just-washed hair can lead to breakage of hair strands, increase in frizz and excess hair fall. Firstly, try never to wash your hair at night. If you don’t have a choice, then dry it or at least wait for it to be only mildly damp before you sleep with it. Also, try and apply a good strengthening leave-in conditioner before bedtime, so your hair is lesser susceptible to breakage.
Q. What kind of brush should I use?
A. To combat hair loss and ensure that hair texture is maintained, it is best to use a boar bristle brush. Natural boar bristles are not just gentle on the hair, they make sure that the natural scalp oils are circulated well, thus stimulating blood flow and promoting healthy hair growth. If you’re looking for a brush that’s more sturdy and can be used for styling, then a mix of boar and nylon bristles are ideal.
Q. Does exercise stimulate hair growth?
A. Yes, exercise means increased blood circulation across the body, including the face, head and scalp. This results in healthy hair follicles. If an exercise causes sweating, use a damp towel to softly just cleanse the scalp and roots of the hair. Excessive washing every day can be harmful, so this is a better way to deal with sweat.
Q. How often should I shampoo?
A. A lot depends on your scalp texture and the nature of your hair. While shampooing your hair can remove dirt, grime and sweat, it can also remove the scalp’s sebum. People with dry skin need not wash their hair very often, as it could strip the scalp of these natural oils. Once or twice a week will do. Those with normal scalp can wash every other day, and those with an oily scalp can wash every day if the hair appears greasy and there is excess sebum production that needs to be contained. While washing, try to use a sulfate-free shampoo, and one without parabens as well, to avoid harmful chemicals from reacting on the hair. Those with coloured hair or chemical/keratin-treated hair need to use shampoos recommended by their hairdresser.
Q. How do I dry my hair?
A. Letting your hair dry naturally or towel drying is obviously the best thing you can do for your hair. As soon as you wash your hair, wrap it up in a turban on top, using a microfiber towel. Once the excess water has been soaked, gently pat the scalp and hair dry with a cotton towel till it is just about damp. Let the rest dry naturally. In case you’re in a hurry and need to get somewhere, blow-drying your hair works best once it has already been towel dried. Try not to get it too close, or turn on the excess heat, unless you’re also styling your hair. Spray volumiser at the roots before drying, and leave-in conditioner to the ends. Watch this video for tips on how to dry your hair.