Hair products have come a long way over the past decade. In line with the growing interest in going ‘natural’ with everything we eat, drink and use in our beauty routine, many of the latest ingredients in hair care come straight from nature.
Here are ten of the most fascinating:
Castor oil: Forget the childhood horror stories of being forced to swallow a spoonful of castor oil – to reap the benefits these days, simply massage the oil into the scalp. Its high concentration of fatty acids will stimulate hair growth and deeply condition.
Charcoal: Known as a detoxifier with antibacterial and antifungal properties, if you’re in need of an ingredient to treat dandruff or stimulate your scalp, hunt down some shampoo with charcoal to give you relief.
Coffee: If you don’t already have a coffee habit, now might be the time to develop one! Douse your hair once a week in freshly brewed (but cold!) coffee and leave it for 30 minutes. As alopecia patients have found, the caffeine will stimulate hair growth. A word of warning though – it may stain lighter coloured hair so this remedy is best for those with darker locks.
Collagen: The most abundant protein in the human body, you’re probably aware of collagen’s role in keeping our skin supple and youthful. When collagen decreases in our 30s, not only do wrinkles start to appear, but our hair suffers too. The good news is you can by collagen powder at a health food store and stir some into your morning coffee or juice to enjoy faster growing and silkier hair within a few weeks.
Kakadu plum: Did you know this fruit is the richest source of vitamin C of any food on earth? Native to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, it also has plenty of minerals and antioxidants that provide protection from free radicals and combat the toxins found in our everyday environment.
Lotus Flower: Native to India, this plant (also known as the water lily) is being used in hair care to protect against heat damage caused by the use of hair straighteners and dryers. It creates a barrier on the hair and helps detangle it and keep it soft.
Pink Himalayan salt: If you suffer from excessively oily hair, use this salt to absorb it and give hair back its bounce. Conversely, it can also be a useful scalp exfoliator to fight dandruff.
Red onions: One of the oldest remedies around, onion juice is rich in sulphur, which boosts collagen production and minimises breakage and thinning of the hair follicles. Its potent anti-oxidants may halt premature greying and it’s also said to increase shine.
Rosemary: It’s not just great in Italian food – this herb can help stop hair loss too! Pop a couple of drops of rosemary oil into your bottles of shampoo and conditioner to improve circulation and regenerate nerves in the scalp.
Tumeric: Cleanse and soothe your scalp, treat infections and prevent hair loss thanks to curcumin, the key ingredient in turmeric. It’s a natural exfoliator with anti-inflammatory properties that will help promote new growth and prevent hair loss.
While the above tips offer some fresh ideas to try, there are also a few things to avoid:
Bin the mousse and hairspray. The alcohol in these products will dry your hair out and give it a dull, matte finish rather than the glossy shine most of us are after.
Avoid hot water. Washing your hair in excessively hot water will activate the oil-producing glands. Luke-warm water is best, then finish with a cool or cold burst to stimulate circulation in your scalp.
Watch out for weather. The right choice of hat is crucial for your hair health, no matter what the season. In summer you want to wear a broad-rimmed hat for maximum coverage and UV protection, and in winter a woollen beanie will protect it from the cold.
Of course for optimal hair health, it’s impossible to escape the basics of having a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly – boring but true! Our hair is the last in line to receive nutrients from our body, so hair problems can be an indication of overall health, but with work from both the inside and the outside, as the famous ad says, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen!”