Hair – your crowning glory. A sign of your inner health, a head full of thick, lustrous shiny hair is possibly the most envied human characteristic.
I was lucky to be born with thick, healthy hair. The journey to keeping it healthy though has been a long one. From neglecting to trim it regularly to using terrible, bad quality hair products, I have subjected my poor hair to tests to cruel to unleash on anyone.
A few years ago, I decided to cut my hair into a lob and basically “start over”. Before the big chop and after years of subjecting it to heat abuse and neglecting to moisturize properly, I was left with hair that was uneven, dried out and limp.
I am back on track after finally getting to know my hair and making a few lifestyle changes. The changes I’ve made have been so positive that I have achieved about eight inches of healthy growth over the course of my “hair journey”.
I would say that the comments and emails I receive most are about my hair, so I took the liberty of filming a hair how-to video. While this is geared towards those with relaxed hair, these tips can be applied to all hair types. Watch on!
Tips & Tricks
1. If your hair is suffering, get a hair consultation with a reputable hair stylist. She or he will be able to assess your hair, make some suggestions and may trim those dead, split ends leaving you with a great foundation to start growing healthy hair.
2. Find yourself the right shampoo and conditioner. If your hair is dry, get moisturizing products. Also, look for shampoos that are creamy and not clear. Clear shampoos tend to be harsh. If you have fine, limp hair, look for products that won’t weigh it down. My peeps with colour-treated hair should look for products specifically for treated hair which are moisturizing as these processes are drying….and so on and so forth.
3. Apply shampoo to your roots to mid-hair only. When you rinse out your hair, it will clean the ends. Shampooing your ends will only promote dryness.
4. Use alcohol and silicone-free products. Both tend to dry out hair and products with silicone in particular will end up coating your hair with residue and will eventually make your hair look dull and dry.
5. Use a wide tooth comb! Wide tooth combs are much gentler on hair and work better for detangling.
6. Do not brush wet hair! Wet hair is more delicate and prone to breaking.
7. Use an old t-shirt to dry your hair. I find that regular bath towels are a little rough as the super absorbent cotton used for towels is too drying and promotes frizz. And remember, do not vigorously rub your hair with a towel to dry it! This promotes dryness, frizz and breakage! Bad, bad, bad!
8. Minimize the use of heat tools on your hair. Like it or not, flat irons fry your hair. I really try to minimize their use. Same goes for hair wands, curling irons and using a blow dryer to close to your hair. If you do use them, try to lower the heat setting a bit and use a heat protectant spray such those by TRESemmé or Moroccan Oil.
9. DO NOT USE HEAT TOOLS ON WET OR DAMP HAIR. The heat from these implements will boil the water on hair strands and fry your hair. Not a good look.
10. Take it easy on the too-tight weaves, braids and ponytails. This will add a lot of stress to your hairline resulting in hair loss, also known as “traction alopecia”. Naomi Campbell is a well-known sufferer of this condition.
11. Wrap your hair before bed with a silk or satin scarf or switch to a satin pillowcase. Ladies – this tried and true trick does not just apply to black girls. Cotton pillowcases suck the moisture out of your hair, the tossing and turning while sleeping will cause some breakage, especially for those with dry, damaged hair, and satin pillowcases reduce frizz. Can’t hurt to try it out! Try googling cute ways to tie your head scarf too to avoid the impending strange looks from your partner.
12. To all the swimmers out there, wet and condition your hair first before jumping in the pool/ocean. We all know chlorine is terrible for your hair, especially if it is relaxed or colour treated. Salty, ocean water is very drying too.
13. Try not to wash your hair on a daily basis. Washing your too often is wholly unnecessary unless you work at McDonald’s or Starbucks (I could see mochaccino-scented hair being a plus though). Daily washing strips your hair of its natural oils and dries it out. I know a Lebanese hairstylist with the most beautiful, shiny, thick hair reaching her mid-back . She confessed to washing her hair every three weeks!!! It looked completely shiny and clean too. So weird.
14. Use deep conditioners! Treat yourself to a hair mask on a monthly basis. I do it every two weeks and I use hair masks specifically for my type of hair. Alternatively, using warm oils to deep condition is fantastic. You wouldn’t believe how soft your hair feels after deep conditioning with something like coconut oil. WARNING: do not melt coconut oil in the microwave or on direct heat on the stove. Do so using a double boiler to avoid burns!
15. Don’t use rubberbands as hair elastics. Try not to use hair elastics either! Rubberbands are just too harsh and grippy, and can pull out or rip hair. Hair elastics are only marginally better. If I want to whip up my hair, I use hair clips with rounded edges. I’m a huge advocate of scrunchies too. Hey – the 90s are back!
16. Apply little almond oil or coconut oil on the ends of your hair each night before bed. I feel this one tip singlehandedly transformed my hair. It doesn’t have to be a lot…maybe a little less than a dime-sized amount.
17. Use a clarifying shampoo on a regular basis. If you are using a lot of product on you hair or if you are a swimmer, a good clarifying shampoo is a must. It will get rid of all product build up while leaving your hair soft and shiny. I swear by Paul Mitchell Clarifying Shampoo Three on a monthly basis.
18. Diet. Not to get too judgy, but I can tell who isn’t eating properly vs. those who aren’t. The health of your hair can measure your overall health. Prime example? Those who suffer from anorexia generally have brittle, lackluster hair. Pop some vitamins, eat a healthy balanced diet including healthy fats and dark, leafy greens (choke down that kale) and drink plenty of water! Please note that it has yet to be proven that any supplements cause hair to grow faster, but if you are healthy, you are more like to see more growth due to the fact that your body is working at optimum levels.
19. Cover your hair in the cold. I always wear a hat when I’m outdoors during the winter as I feel the cold temperatures dry out your hair and cause it to break. This is less of a problem with Caucasian-type hair. Bonus points if you find a hat with a silk/satin lining!
20. Use protective styling. I feel this tip applies more to those with African-American hair. Use protective styles such as buns, weaves and wigs. I rarely wear my hair down as it rubbing against coat collars and sweaters can cause breakage. This is why many black women will have shorter hair at the nape of the neck. Good quality weave applications and wigs will also protect your hair giving it a chance to grow.
What are your hair tips that you swear by? Please let me know in the comments!