Tips and tricks for how to make and keep your locks luscious
We all want healthy hair that doesn’t fall out, split at the ends or go grey before its time. But the stress of everyday life, poor diet and harsh chemicals in the shampoos we use, make our hair dull and lifeless. The same conditions can also lead to hair loss and dandruff. So how do you grow hair that is strong at the roots, lustrous, smooth to the touch and clean, regardless of its length?
After talking to people who have shiny, healthy hair, I have rounded up some tips that have worked for these ladies – not all of whom have access to expensive products and intense spa treatments.
To have long and strong hair, eat well
This is the first rule to having great hair for life. What goes inside you is what shows outside you. The foods you should be eating for healthy and strong hair include fish and eggs for the non-vegetarians, or yellow peppers, spinach and sweet potatoes if you prefer a vegetarian diet.
Fish like salmon, and eggs, are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and egg yolk contains biotin – ingredients that promote hair growth. A daily dose of almonds will also help as they also contain biotin which helps hair grow faster.
Yellow peppers are a rich source of Vitamin C which is an antioxidant with the capacity to protect the hair shaft. This can also prevent breakage, which leads to healthier hair.
The iron in spinach, needless to say, increases the iron in the blood, which in turn makes hair stronger. And sweet potatoes have beta carotene which again promotes hair growth.
On the whole, it pays to include almonds, walnuts, carrots, eggs and fish in your diet on a regular basis. Try not to cook the fish or vegetables too much or they will lose their essential nutrients.
There is a myth that if you wash your hair too often you can strip it of its natural oils, making it dry. That is true only of harsh shampoos that contain SLS – sodium laryl sulphates. A salon specialist once advised me that if a product has sodium laureth it means it is a milder shampoo and won’t cause as much harm. I have switched shampoos to one that meets this criterion and my hair doesn’t feel as dry.
Actress Dimple Kapadia has gone on record saying that changing shampoos helps maintain healthy hair and she rotates the products she uses thereby using multiple brands. Apparently this takes care of residue left in the hair. And she should know, she has gorgeous hair that she has been colouring since her youth.
Having said that, don’t go overboard with the number of hair care products you use. You don’t want your hair to get coated with so many products that it loses its bounce. Use a hair oil treatment followed by a shampoo and conditioner and if you have dry or frizzy hair, a leave-in serum should be enough. Go easy on the styling mousses and gels. Avoid too many blow drying treatments or those horrid curling and straightening irons. The heat does untold damage to hair unless you are using a heat protecting serum.
Keep it trimmed
I am trying to grow my hair so I avoid getting it trimmed too often. But the last time I went to the salon, the hairdresser told me that a trim every six weeks is a must. He explained that the longer I delayed it, the more he would need to trim at the ends to keep the shape. Instead, a shorter trim, snipping off a tiny bit regularly, helps hair grow faster.
If you already have long hair then you would have experienced split ends at some time or the other. Just having a centimetre chopped off regularly can keep the split ends away and retains your hair’s strength. Look for a hairdresser who is experienced in cutting long hair and doesn’t take large bits off every time he or she puts the scissors to your tresses.
Sometimes, colour helps
I don’t know if it is the case with everyone who has premature grey hair, but the longer I delay colouring my hair, the more it falls out. Though colour makes my hair look good, hair colour can also dry out your hair like it does mine. If you go swimming, you can be sure the chlorine will cause further damage.
It makes sense to use a moisturising shampoo alternated with a colour protecting one – this way your hair stays healthy and the colour doesn’t get stripped out with every wash. If you have access to it, a hydrating mask goes a long way to prevent damage. Ask your hairdresser to recommend one. If nothing else, a hair pack of one egg mixed with half a cup of olive oil and 2 tbsp yoghurt applied to the scalp and left on for an hour should give your hair the extra nourishment it needs.