A healthy and good set of hair is not merely a combination of ideal DNA—good habits and a working knowledge of what works for your own set of hair plays an incredibly vital role.
While there are a varied number of hair types and treatments to pore through, some universal tips remain true to this day, including the golden rules of what to avoid.
Here’s what you should stay at arm’s length from when it comes to cultivating your hair care routine:
TIP #1: AVOID HARSH CHEMICALS
If you’re at home now, stand up, head to your restroom and grab your shampoo or hair conditioner—how many ingredients are you familiar with? How many do you know are considered to be harsh chemicals?
Your hair is like your skin; it absorbs the nutrients or toxins from the surface that are present in your hair products. Investing in good quality and safe hair products will keep your hair looking healthy and robust for a long time. But fret not if you are unsure of what to look out for, take a peek below for our beginner’s cheat sheet:
- Fragrance: Consider this a red flag. ‘Fragrance’ is a telltale sign that a manufacturer is concealing the use of unflattering ingredients— often Phthalates, which is primarily used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or vinyl, flexible and pliant.
- Sulfates: This ingredient not only strips oil and dirt from your hair, but they also deplete the sebum that keeps your hair naturally moisturized. Common types of sulfates include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate.
- Parabens: These are a group of preservatives that are used in cosmetics, personal hygiene products, food products, and pharmaceuticals. These chemicals can disrupt hormones and pose a cancer risk. Other variations include propylparaben, benzyl paraben, etc.
- Formaldehyde: This chemical is known for its preservative and antibacterial properties that help to prevent the growth of bacteria, thus extending its shelf life. However, prolonged and excessive exposure to it can pose a health risk. A report by the National Academy of Sciences in 2014 listed it as a known human carcinogen.
TIP #2: AVOID HOT TOOLS
Opt for air-drying your hair instead of blow-drying as this helps prevent adverse effects on your hair strands caused by heat damage and heat styling. As explained by Jeff Donovan, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and hair restoration physician with Hair Club Medical Group in Toronto, by exposing your hair to heat, you leave the hair cuticles expanded.
This agitates the outer layer and trapping water within it. Using heat excessively can also fade the hair color and dry out your hair, leaving you with a blob of frizzy hair.
TIP#3: DON’T USE HOT WATER
Some days, a good hot bath helps you unwind and just as easily chase your worries away. But if there’s one thing you have to bear in mind, it is to keep it from reaching a too high a temperature. Hot water strips the hair of its protective oils that serve as a protecting conditioner, thereby taking away its natural shine and leaving you with dull and lifeless-looking hair.
But wait, we have some good news! You don’t have to endure cold showers, adjust the water temperature to a lukewarm setting, and rinse your hair for an excellent start to your self-care hair routine.
TIP #4: AVOID EXCESSIVE SUN EXPOSURE
Excessive sun exposure delivers several unappealing effects to your hair. From dull, dried, or brittle hair to a significant reduction in strength and speeds up hair loss, consider protecting them from intense ultraviolet rays. One way to go about it is to wear a hat more often and use sunscreen products made for the hair.
TIP #5: AVOID INEFFECTIVE DESTRESS TECHNIQUES
Stress takes a toll on not only your mental and emotional capacity, but it also reflects physically on your body and hair. When left improperly handled, high anxiety levels can also lead to temporary hair loss such as Telogen Effluvium. This happens when one experiences prolonged and intense emotional and/or physical stress. As a result, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that can disrupt the hair growth cycle. Hairs will begin to rush into the resting phase of the cycle, leading to hair shedding.
Having experienced this myself, I’ve learned it is best to explore several ways to destress, build a strong support system, etc. to tide through the tough cycles. Stressors are a part of anyone’s daily life so it is vital to explore how your mind relaxes and make sure to work those destressing techniques into your routine to keep both you and your hair healthy.
TIP #6: AVOID USING A SMALL-TOOTHED COMB TO UNTANGLE YOUR HAIR
Let’s face it, we all turn to the comb to untangle our hair after our fingers have attempted to work its magic. But did you know that combing has its own set of rules too?
Always avoid a small-toothed comb to tame the hair. This ensures that you don’t pull any precious hair strands off your head by mistake. The narrow teeth of the comb are a significant risk to your hair, so use a bigger-toothed comb to work its detangling charm. Here’s a bonus tip too: avoid combing when your hair is wet as they’re fragile and would be susceptible to breakage.
TIP #7: AVOID UNHEALTHY DIET
As a great saying goes, “we are a reflection of our habits.” We are what we do daily. We are what we eat. That said, an unhealthy diet will not only reflect on our skin, behavior, and mood but also our hair.
Avoid an unhealthy diet by ensuring your hair gets its daily nutrients such as
- protein (which gives its shine),
- iron (encourages hair growth),
- vitamin A (produce hair’s natural oils),
- vitamin C (aids collagen growth) and
- omega-3 fatty acids (provides hydration and overall scalp health).
Figuring out a hair care routine may take a few weeks or days, but so long as you work in these golden rules, you’re well on your way to getting the healthy hair you deserve. So strap your hair ties in and get ready to work these golden rules into your hair routine, your happy hair days await!