Hey Fam! Welcome to another blog post. Healthy hair optimally has strength, has length and has thickness. Hair is a very important characteristic of humans. It is closely tied to self-esteem and confidence; and offers some protection to the cranium. The strength, length and texture of hair has a lot to do with genetics but also a lot with how we treat it. Genetics can be influenced however. For example, if there is a family history of diabetes, hypertension or heart disease it does not mean present or future generations have to suffer the same fate if healthier choices are made. It is the same thought process that should be put towards hair health. The onus is on present generations to take up the mantle to help improve hair health in the present and for future generations.
I witnessed family and friends who improved the health and length of their hair by making healthier choices, by incorporating the tips below and actively researching better ways to tackle hair issues. Intriguingly, the interest in hair over the last five years, according to google trends, has been steadily increasing in popularity worldwide. Proportionately, Jamaica leads the list of regions where hair was the most popular search item over the last five years, followed by Trinidad. The most popular search query relating to hair, is long hair. For Jamaica specifically it is natural hair. This suggests that everyone researches long hair and natural, tightly coiled hair is being embraced more by Afro Caribbean and African regions.
Here are ten (10) tips on how to grow long healthy hair.
1. Lead a healthy Lifestyle
This refers to eating well, exercising and reducing stress. When the body is unhealthy and lacks the nutrients it needs to survive; it goes into survival mode and focuses its energy on the organs and areas of the body that are necessary for survival. Hair is not essential to remain alive, so with nutrients being diverted away from the hair by the body; it becomes one of the first things to suffer and eventually fall out when the body is under immense pressure to stay alive. Internal health drives the effectiveness of topical treatments. So there is nothing that you will be able to put onto your hair to achieve long healthy hair, that lasts, without taking care of your overall health.
So in a nutshell stay hydrated, incorporate more raw foods, consume food from all food groups, stay away from processed refined carbohydrates(white flour, white rice, white sugar), stay away from some saturated fats and trans fats, minimize the intake of meat, become more active and be honest with yourself, understand your feelings so that you know why you are stressed out and then do something about it.
2. Use Herbs and Essential Oils
While it might be hard to find healthy hair products, herbs and essential oils are becoming more accessible and might even be in our kitchens or yards. Herbs are one of the best ways to effectively nourish the scalp. So are essential and natural oils. The skin, which includes the scalp, is the biggest organ and it is so important what is put atop it. Healthy hair grows well in a fertilized scalp. To minimize inflammation (itchy scalp, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema) the herb rosemary, the herb aloe vera and tea tree essential oil are my go tos. For daily treatment and moisture olive oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil are my favourites at the moment.
3. Minimize the use of Sulfates and Mineral Oils
Shampoos, conditioners, hair masks and hair oils, as much as possible, should be free of sulfates and mineral oils. Check the label for ingredients such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Mineral oil, Petrolatum, Liquid paraffin or Paraffin oil. Sulfates strip the hair of it natural oils and leaves hair dry. Mineral oil is derived from petroleum and does not absorb into the skin because its molecular size is simply too big. As a result, mineral oil remains on the surface of the hair; and coating the hair with mineral oil after stripping the hair using sulfates is a recipe for disaster.
4. The Less Processing the Better
I need to practice what I am preaching. But while my hair is relaxed, I do not do much else to it other than apply heat, at most, every two weeks. I also minimize the use of heat, bleach or dyes on the hair. If you do any of these processes to your hair; increase the length of time between each process. As best as possible try to find natural alternatives such as henna as a replacement for dye or air-drying instead of blow-drying.
5. Moisturize and Seal
A lot of the times we attempt to moisturize and that moisture leaves the hair shaft because it was not sealed in. The key to this is a humectant and an occlusive combination that keeps hair moisturized and sealed while still allowing moisture to be released and absorbed as needed. Water is the best moisturizer and a nutrient dense, light oil like olive oil is a great option for an occlusive. When I wrap my hair at night I refresh my strands with a few spritz of water and seal it in with my oil concoction.
6.Wear Protective styles
I wear protective styles the majority of the time such as my hair pulled back in one and in a bun. Ensure that protective styling does not pull tightly on the hairline and if the slick back look is desired use a gel to assist without it being too tight, such as aloe vera gel. There are some protective styles that require a lot of manipulation, these should not be done often and should be maintained for up to a week.
7. Give it a rest
Leave the hair be for a couple of days. This includes excessive combing or washing. Try to maintain hairstyles for more than one day by wearing a satin head scarf to bed. Have you ever noticed that hair after it has been locked grows quickly? Why? Because dreadlocks go through less manipulation, therefore prone to less breakage. Also give the hair around one to two weeks per month to breathe and relax by wearing you hair down free of pulling and tugging.
8. Detangle from tip to root
Breakage happens a lot during the detangling process. Minimize unnatural and unnecessary hair loss by detangling from the tip to the root. Try to use products that will decrease friction such as moisturizers (oil or water based) or conditioners when detangling.
9. Wrap it up
Wrap hair in a satin scarf every night. It is so important to protect hair especially when asleep. Certain fabrics pull moisture from the hair and tossing around while asleep increases friction and both actions contribute to breakage. I personally sleep with a satin scarf every night even if the hair is not wrapped or roller set.
10. Maintain a balance of all tips above
There is no way to maintain health by focusing on one or two tips. Listen to your hair and body to know when to do more or less of the tips outlined above and your hair health will improve.
I really hope that this post proved helpful. Leave me a comment down below letting me know what you think. If you just want to leave me some positivity, click the heart ♥ down below ↓. Kindly share this post with everyone, especially someone who may need it and keep the conversation going. Thanks again for stopping by, until next time Fam, walk good.
Be sure to consult your doctor if you plan to exercise, change your diet, use herbs or essential oils.4