Growing out your hair isn’t always easy. Your bangs go through awkward lengths, your dye job fades and gives way to your roots, and the bottom of your hair can develop damage or breakage over time without a trim. There are many reasons you might be avoiding the salon; whether it’s caution or safety measures during COVID-19, whether you’re budgeting to save costs, or if you’re just trying to grow your hairstyle out. However, there are some simple ways to keep your hair in amazing condition without a cut!
The belief that getting your hair cut helps it grow faster isn’t true. It does, however, trim away the bottom of your hair to improve its overall health. The tips of your hair are the oldest part of the hair shaft and have been subject to stressors such as pulling, brushing, harsh products, sunlight, and cold weather for a longer time than the rest of your hair. Getting a trim removes these damaged ends, leaving the rest of your hair looking sleek and refreshed. With care and the right product and style tips, you can keep your entire mane healthy and prolong the time between salon visits!
The right stuff
Do you read the ingredients list before you wash your hair or add styling products? There are a few common components found in many conventional hair products that can weaken the hair shaft, and, in some cases, pose a danger to the hair follicle’s healthy growth patterns or even your overall health. Ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, isopropyl alcohols, synthetic fragrances, and silicones are common additions to many hair products, including shampoo and conditioner. The more porous or textured your hair is, the more affected it will be by harsh ingredients.
- Parabens are commonly used as a cosmetic preservative but have been linked with increased cancer risk and endocrine-disrupting properties.
- Sulfates are harsh surfactants, a type of foaming agent which causes suds, but can also strip your hair of its healthy oils and leave it dry and brittle, and even irritate your scalp.
- Silicone products are not always water-soluble and can coat the hair shaft, creating build-up and clogging hair’s pores, especially if the user already avoids intense cleansing agents in hair products.
- Isopropyl alcohols can dry out the hair shaft and cause frizz.
- Fragrances aren’t regulated and can contain a variety of damaging chemicals such as endocrine-disrupting phthalates. Some fragrances can cause scalp and skin irritation like contact dermatitis. Products scented with essential oils are much gentler.
Get into the habit of carefully perusing your product labels, and look into replacing any iffy products with natural options, which can benefit both your hair and the environment! Using a moisturizing hair oil can restore your hair’s condition and shine, as can applying a nourishing DIY hair mask - it’s as easy as letting it sit while you check your email or watch Netflix. You might have the ingredients for an all-natural hair treatment already in your cupboard.
Your style steps can make or break your hair health! Hairstyles that pull your locks taut for a long period of time such as high ponytails, tight braids, or extensions, can put pressure on the hair shaft and follicle itself, causing breakage and even hair loss. Likewise, heat styling can damage your hair’s cuticle, causing frizz and dullness. Excessive brushing may also be a factor in hair damage; if you brush your hair, make sure not to brush when your hair is still wet and be gentle with any tangles - you may even wish to use a hair oil while brushing to help with knots. If you have dyed hair, taking extra precautions can help protect your vulnerable hair, which has already been through an intensive coloring process.
Many people have a specific wash routine based on their preferences or their hair type. How often to wash your hair is subjective; it can depend on your hair’s porosity as well as your skin type, which influences the amount of sebum - your body’s natural oil - that your scalp produces. Most people wash their hair more often than is necessary. Overwashing strips away the healthy, natural oils that protect your hair, leading to overproduction of oil by glands in your skin and scalp; it is also potentially drying and irritating to your scalp.
If you usually wash your hair daily, you may want to consider reducing your wash frequency. Some people with porous or textured and curly hair find co-washing - washing hair with conditioner only - offers several benefits: it can moisturize, cleanse, and refresh hair without stripping the hair’s natural oils. However, it doesn’t clean all build-up off the hair shaft and scalp, so co-washers should use a clarifying shampoo or apple cider vinegar rinse every once in a while.
The way you dry your hair can also contribute to damage; try switching out your rough, textured cotton towel for a smooth microfibre hair towel or an old, soft t-shirt, and be gentle - don’t vigorously rub your hair dry with your towel. Likewise, don’t move to hurried heat styling like blow drying or straightening while your hair is still wet. Wet hair doesn’t have the resilient elasticity of dry hair and is more prone to breakage when pulled or heat-treated.
Nutritional hair support
The nutritional value of your diet affects your overall health; naturally, it can also affect your hair health! Your hair follicles require nutrients and the right levels of certain hormones in the body to complete a healthy growth cycle, where they replace a naturally shed hair with a new hair shaft. Inadequate nutrition can impact their functioning, causing hair thinning or loss. Likewise, incorporating lots of wholesome foods that benefit hair growth can help your locks stay full and shiny. An excellent option for getting targeted nutritional support for hair with beneficial ingredients such as silica and biotin is by including a supplement specifically formulated for hair health and growth in your daily regimen.