A cut above

Give your tresses some love with these tips from the natural haircare experts

The way that we care for our hair has undergone a massive change in the last century. Whilst the post-war generation opted for a shampoo and set, and Generation X wanted to wash and go with chemical-laden 2-in-1 hair care formulations, millennial men and women are increasingly choosing to care for their hair naturally.

Why care for your hair naturally?

“We’re accustomed to frequently washing our hair with foaming SLS-based shampoos and taming it with chemical-laden hairsprays and serums,” says Charlotte Vøhtz, founder of organic beauty brand Green People (www.greenpeople.co.uk). “But both the hair and scalp can benefit from switching to natural haircare. Hair is made with the protein keratin and, like the skin, it has a slightly acidic pH. Whilst applying products might give hair a short-lived synthetic sheen, in reality you are regularly exposing it to alkaline chemicals and silicones, which can cause it to become vulnerable to dryness, split ends and scalp irritation.”

Charlotte adds: “Like the hair, the scalp has a delicate balance and will also benefit from less exposure to chemical ingredients such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate). Commonly used in shampoo formulations, SLS is known to agitate itchy, flaky scalps. A great natural alternative for those with sensitive skin is shampoo made with yucca. This gentle plant extract contains natural saponins and these naturally boost shampoo’s foamability whilst having a soothing effect on easily irritated skin.”

Care for your curls

“Another group that may benefit from a more natural approach to haircare is those with curly hair,” says Charlotte. “When you have frizzy, unruly hair, it can be hard to find your ideal shampoo, but those fighting against frizz should be aware that the main ingredient their hair needs is water. Using sulphate-free haircare is a great way to help inject moisture into the hair.”

The Curly Girl Method, which comes from the book Curly Girl: The Handbook, by Lorraine Massey, is a method of caring for curly or wavy hair without using sulphate-based shampoos or silicone-based conditioners.

Did you know?

Herbs like horsetail provide a natural source of silica, which helps to strengthen the hair.

Applying natural hair masks based on vitamin E and coconut oil are helpful for getting moisture into the scalp and follicles.

Eating for healthy hair

Nutritionist Helen Ford from the Glenville Nutrition Clinic (www.marilynglenville.com) gives us the lowdown on the best foods to eat for healthy hair

Hair is made of protein, so ensuring you have enough protein in your diet is crucial for making hair strong and healthy. Low-protein diets can result in brittle, lacklustre hair. Other important factors for healthy hair include good thyroid function and hormone balance, particularly during certain times like pregnancy and menopause.

Protein

If you are not consuming enough protein in your diet, your hair is likely to become dry, brittle and weak. Include a good variety of protein from fish (oily fish is particularly good), eggs, hummus, tofu, beans, nuts and seeds, natural yogurt and a little organic meat.

Iron

This is an especially important mineral for hair and too little iron is a major cause of hair loss. The hair follicle and root are fed by a nutrient-rich blood supply. When iron levels (ferritin) fall below a certain point, this disrupts the nutrient supply to the follicle, affecting the hair growth cycle and may result in shedding. Make sure your GP or nutritionist checks your ferritin levels. Iron-rich foods include watercress, spinach, beetroot, molasses and organic red meat (minimal).

Biotin

This is a water-soluble B vitamin. Too little biotin can cause brittle hair and may lead to hair loss. Biotin-rich foods include wholegrains, egg yolk, soya and yeast.

Vitamin A

This important vitamin is needed by the body to make sebum. Sebum is an oily substance created by our hair’s sebaceous glands and provides a natural conditioner for a healthy scalp. Eat a variety of bright colours in your diet, including orange and yellow-coloured vegetables which are high in beta-carotene (which makes vitamin A) such as carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes.

Zinc

A lack of zinc can lead to hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp. Wholegrains, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are good sources of zinc along with oysters, prawns and eggs.

Omega-3 essential fats

These are important for shiny, lustrous hair and for healthy hormone balance. Eating more oily fish and walnuts, chia, flaxseed and hemp seeds are beneficial.

Natural haircare SOS!

Karine Jackson, founder of Karine Jackson Hair & Beauty (www.karinejackson.co.uk) suggests some quick and easy natural haircare tips

The natural pH balancer
Apple cider vinegar is a natural pH balancer and removes any build-up of oils, so deep cleanses without stripping. It also gives great shine to brunette and blonde hair. Pop some into a spray bottle and apply to damp hair before you shampoo. Ignore the smell – it will disappear when you shampoo. Condition as usual afterwards.

The frizz fighter
For a natural protective layer and to calm down dry, frizzy hair, apply olive oil from the mid lengths to the ends of dry hair an hour before shampooing. You can also do this treatment overnight but protect your pillow with a towel or sleep with a shower cap on.

The scalp soother
To calm down itchy or irritated scalps, warm a very small amount of neat tea tree oil in your hands and massage into the affected areas. (Avoid this on dermatitis or psoriasis for which you’ll need to see your doctor.) Stress often reveals itself in our scalps first because, when we’re under pressure, the skin tightens and this makes it harder for nutrients to reach the scalp and hair. Try putting a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow to help aid sleep, and incorporate scalp massage into your hair routine, such as when you wash your hair or when you get into bed.

Follow Karine on Instagram: @karinejacksonsalon

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