With a little bit of know how, we believe it’s within everyone’s grasp to get healthy hair. We’ve spent years working with clients in the salon and there are two concerns that come up time and time again; how to get healthy hair and how to promote hair growth. We think the two go hand in hand. We’ll be sharing our healthy hair tips, but first up we’d like to talk about what we mean by healthy hair.
When we talk about healthy hair, we are really talking about look and feel. How does the hair look? Is it shiny, for example? How does the hair feel? Is the texture rough or smooth?
So without further ado, here is our checklist for healthy hair.
- It feels smooth and slippery in texture. Take a strand of hair and gently hold it at the roots (this avoids any tension on the roots). With your other hand, slide your thumb and forefinger down the strand of hair. If it’s healthy, it should feel silky smooth.
- Shiny hair is healthy hair. When hair shines, its because the cuticle is smooth (see above). The cuticle, the outer layer of the hair, is made up of lots of tiny scales. When hair is dry, the scales lift. When hair is well hydrated the scales lay flat and the smooth surface of the cuticle reflects light, making it shiny.
- You lose less hair. Hair naturally sheds for everyone, every day. It’s part of the normal phases of hair growth; growing new hair and shedding old hair. However, when hair is well hydrated we lose less.
- It’s easier to style. It’s not just easier to style, it’s quicker to style too! If you feel the frustration of hair that just won’t sit flat or hold shape, despite all your efforts and many styling products, there are lots of things you can do to improve the manageability.
- Less breakage. Healthy hair has more elasticity, making it less prone to breakage. You can check the elasticity of your hair at home. When hair is damp, simply hold the hair at the roots to avoid any tension and gently stretch the hair. If the hair stretches and returns to the original length without any breakage, you have good elasticity.
- Natural body and movement. When the hair is well-hydrated, the individual strands are thicker. This gives hair a feeling of fullness.
- Hair can cope with humidity. When hair has a normal porosity level it retains moisture. This means the hair is less prone to becoming frizzy in humid or damp environments.
What’s your hair telling you?
Use our checklist to understand the condition of your hair. If you want to improve the health of your hair, there are plenty of things you can do; from changing your routine to choosing the right products for your hair type. Whenever we talk about how to get healthy hair or promote hair growth, we always start with the scalp.
How do you keep your scalp healthy?
The scalp is a sensitive area; for some, it’s more sensitive than others. However, from the products we use to the way we wash and style our hair, the scalp sometimes gets a rough deal. The scalp is like a delicate ecosystem and taking good care of it will give you the best foundation for healthy hair growth.
So, here are our dos and don’ts for good scalp health.
Do keep your scalp clean.
It’s important to get rid of dead skin cells and other dirt that can build up. So, for most people, that means washing the hair 2 to 3 times a week with a gentle shampoo.
Don’t overstimulate the scalp.
You’ve probably heard of sebum, the oil that the scalp produces to add moisture to the hair. Whilst, sebum is important for moisture, if you overwork the scalp by vigorous scrubbing when you wash your hair, its possible to overstimulate the sebaceous glands that produce the sebum. This can lead to an oily scalp. The oily scalp attracts more dirt and it’s harder to keep your hair and scalp clean.
Do gently massage your scalp.
Good scalp circulation is good for hair growth. A great time to massage your scalp is when you wash your hair but, as we said above, no vigorous scrubbing! Just a firm but gentle pressure with circular movements as you wash.
Do work up the shampoo in between your palms, before you apply to the scalp.
This prevents over-application of shampoo in one area of the scalp. If you squeeze shampoo into your hand and place it directly on the top of your head, it’s not uncommon to get product build-up in that area. Work it up into a lather before you apply, for an even spread.
Do eat your greens.
Greens such as spinach contain Vitamin A and C. Whilst Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron for healthy hair growth, Vitamin A helps the follicles produce sebum to keep your scalp and hair moisturised. Find out which other foods are good for healthy hair growth in our blog, Choose the Best Food for Hair Growth.
Don’t overheat your scalp.
Hot water can dehydrate the scalp. One of the most common problems for scalp health is a dry scalp. A dry, itchy scalp is not only uncomfortable, but the buildup of flakes and sebum can also combine to clog up the follicles and prevent hair growth.
Above all, wash your hair in lukewarm water and avoid getting too much heat on the scalp from heated styling appliances. Turn down the heat on the hairdryer and use short blasts of heat when drying the hair.
Salon Know How: Healthy Hair Tips
Getting the basics right with good scalp health is a good place to start promoting healthy hair growth. Follow our healthy hair tips to get your hair in the best shape.
Good hair care starts with a routine.
Just as our bodies respond to a regular routine of exercise, the hair responds to a regular routine of cleansing and conditioning. There are 2 priorities for washing your hair; keeping your scalp clean and free of build-up and moisturising your hair. We know there’s lots of advice out there about not washing your hair too often but quite frankly we don’t agree. If you don’t keep your scalp clean, it can become clogged with oil and dirt. So if you want to promote healthy hair growth, keep your follicles clean.
Choose a gentle shampoo developed for your hair type and always condition the ends and mid-lengths of the hair. As a general rule, we recommend washing hair 2 to 3 times a week. If you have afro-textured hair, once a week is fine. For those with very fine hair and oily scalps, you may want to wash every day. Take some time to work out your own routine. Use our checklist for healthy hair as a guide to how your hair is doing and make small adjustments to see how your hair responds.
Our hair is what we eat.
So, as we mentioned above, what we eat really does have an effect on promoting hair growth. We believe in taking a holistic approach to hair care. Diet makes a difference to the health of our scalp and the kind of hair we grow. You can find out more in our blog, Choose the Best Food for Hair Growth. In addition, we’ve summarised some of the most important vitamins and nutrients for hair growth below:
- Iron for strong, healthy hair
- Vitamin C to help your body absorb iron and build collagen
- Vitamin A for sebum production
- Magnesium for a healthy follicle
- Vitamin E – antioxidant for scalp health
- Fatty acids for building cells
- B vitamins to support healthy hair growth
- Zinc to support the sebaceous glands
- Protein to prevent hair from becoming dry and brittle
We don’t advocate taking supplements unless you have consulted a professional. However, we absolutely advocate a healthy, balanced diet for healthy hair growth.
Put back what you take away.
Because our hair is exposed to the elements every day, there’s lots of potential for breakage and moisture loss. First of all, from the sun, wind and rain to central heating and air conditioning; they all conspire to make our hair dry. As a result, hair is more susceptible to breakage. Similarly, hair styling adds to the load our hair must endure. We brush, we comb (sometimes too much!), we overdry our hair (more of which below) and we apply heat with straighteners. And that’s not all. We apply colour treatments that open the cuticle and, as a result, the hair becomes even drier.
After all that, it’s time to give hair a treat. We have always been of the opinion there’s no need to stop colouring and styling hair. It’s simply a question of putting back what we’ve taken out. Think of how thirsty you feel after a run or exercise class. The first thing you do reach for a glass of water to rehydrate. It’s the same for thirsty hair.
This is, above all, the most important thing you can do for your hair. Treat it to a weekly hair mask. Build a weekly deep conditioner into your hair care routine and you will never look back.
Choose the right product for your hair type
If you feel your products are not working for you, we recommend looking at your routine first. So for example, are you washing and conditioning your hair enough? Are you overdrying your hair? Make some adjustments to see if that helps. If the problems persist, it might be time to look for different products.
Look at your hair, think about the texture and choose products that are targeted to your hair needs. It may sound obvious but it’s something many of us get wrong. If a product is making your hair feel flat, choose a product that will add volume. If your hair feels dry, despite regular conditioning, choose a more hydrating conditioner.
Avoid over-drying the hair.
We’ve talked about the drying effects of styling hair and the truth is that most of us overdry our hair. If you haven’t been professionally trained, its easily done. When it comes to styling hair there are two things to watch out for; overdrying and overworking the hair.
In order to avoid overdrying the hair, you can choose a cooler setting on the hairdryer. However, it’s also important to take notice of what’s happening to your hair in the drying process. If the hair feels dry and no longer damp to touch, its time to stop. The same with styling, once you’ve got the hair in place, leave it to settle. Don’t keep working on it.
Choose styling products that add moisture to the hair.
Still, on the subject of styling, choose styling products that add moisture to the hair. As we’ve discussed, hairstyling has a drying effect on the hair. Choosing styling products that are formulated to condition and protect hair from heat will help to reduce the impact.
We’ve written a piece about leave in conditioners and you can find out more about why they are a great choice for styling, Leave In Hair Conditioner: We Give you the Heads Up!
Handle wet hair with care.
Hair is vulnerable when wet and consequently, the most damage can be done to our hair after we’ve washed it. The hair needs gentle handling. Therefore, no vigorous rubbing. Instead, gently squeeze the water from your hair with your towel.
If you are using a comb at this point, choose a wide-tooth comb. Above all, avoid tugging at the roots. Start by gently holding on to the mid-lengths of the hair and work from the end upwards. Ideally, your conditioner should have done much of the detangling work, so if you find your hair is very tangled at this point, it might be time to rethink your conditioner.
Get regular trims to avoid split ends.
Despite all our best efforts at hydrating our hair, the ends will become drier over time. Get rid of split ends by getting a regular trim. We recommend a trim every 6 – 8 weeks.
Keep hair hydrated.
The hair is made up of many layers but for the purpose of this, we’ll just focus on the cortex (the inner layer) and the cuticle (the outer layer). There are 2 principal functions of our conditioners and hair mask:
- To get moisture into the cortex and help it to retain that moisture.
- Smooth the cuticle so that it sits flat and protects the moisture held in the cortex.
The result is that hair feels fuller because it has moisture and it feels smoother in texture. The hair shines because the light is bouncing off the smooth texture. Hair that retains moisture is stronger, has more elasticity and is less prone to breakage. Keeping hair hydrated will help your hair look and feel healthier.
Small changes can make a big difference.
Our healthy hair tips are small changes that can make a big difference in how your hair looks and feels. If you dream of healthy, shiny hair isn’t it time to make it happen?
We have been working with hair for over 35 years and we write extensively about healthy hair. If you want to improve your hair condition you may be interested in the blogs below:
Ogario London is a salon developed, natural hair care range. As a niche brand, we are passionate about our products and delivering the best results is at the heart of what we do. If you have any questions about our products, would like advice on the best products for your hair type, or have another question about how to look after your hair, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org