photo from here.
I have been asked numerous times about how I keep my hair alive and well despite all the stress I put it through: it's bleached, straightened and spiked pretty frequently, meaning I have to keep it in amazing condition for it to withstand this torture it's subjected to so often!
Considering the ominous winter season creeping up on us, this is one time you should definitely prioritise the health of your hair for it to withstand the impending snow, rain and wind. Whether you're growing it out or just prefer it to look fabulous, it is essential to create your own hair health routine and adhere to it meticulously.
1. Take your vitamins! Having the right vitamins in your diet is essential to keep you looking and feeling in top condition. Find a decent multivitamin that works for you and stick to it! My favourite is Centrum which is one of the widest available brands. Another great supplement which promotes hair growth is Biotin, though always consult your doctor before taking any new medications.
2. Eat healthily. Pretty obvious and follows on from the last, but what you put in your body makes a huge difference to health of hair and skin as well as how you feel. Foods such as fish, eggs, meat and oats, amongst others, are vital for hair growth as they contain the proteins which our hair and nails are composed of.
3. Sleep for at least 8 hours every night. A good night's sleep consists of between 8 and 10 hours, its health benefits often underestimated. If you skip a few hours of sleep every night, it will gradually begin to show. Find a good book and go to sleep early tonight, allowing you to look and feel full of energy for the coming day.
4. Leave an extra day or two between washes. Although they feel and smell rather strange, the natural oils our scalp produces are imperative to hair health and growth. Washing your hair every day or even every other day also washes away these oils that keep our hair healthy, so adjust your hair washing routine by a couple of days and use talc or dry shampoo to banish the greasy look between washes. I used to wash my hair every other day but now only do so twice a week, leaving my own hair feeling much healthier from it. If you get the opportunity, leaving hair 4 days or longer without washing will greatly improve its natural condition - the perfect excuse for a lazy weekend.
5. Find a deep conditioner that works for you. Hair inevitably dries out due to damage from sun, dyes and harsh winds. Finding a deep conditioner that suits your hair type plays a key role in having vivacious, lovely hair, one that gives your hair a thorough conditioning without feeling excessively waxy or greasy. My favourite is Aussie's '3 Minute Miracle' for Coloured Hair.
6. Lay off the heated styling tools. Although GHDs have become similar to a holy grail in recent years (and being promoted accordingly), what they don't tell you is that straightener overuse wrecks your hair! Split, dried and brittle ends are telltale signs of suffering from the overuse of heated appliances (this includes blow dryers, which are actually worse due to air+heat). Ideally give up the straighteners for good, or otherwise straighten much less frequently. I use mine once every 3-4 days rather than daily and whilst, not ideal, it's significantly reduced the amount of heat damage to my hair. If you're a GHD aficionado like myself, get a heat protection spray such as VO5 Miracle Mist. Although no product completely shields hair from heat, it's an absolute necessity if you can't do without the heated tools.
7. Protect yourself from the sun. You use high-factor suncream and SPF moisturiser to protect your skin, so why not protect your hair? Find a light comb-through anti-UV ray spray or simply wear your hair under a hat or bandana to protect both condition and colour. Hours of salty sea water and sunshine in the summer really do take a toll on your hair if you ignore it.
8. Schedule regular trims. Book an appointment with your hairdresser every 6-8 weeks to eliminate any split ends that may have appeared. The longer left, the worse they'll get. Regular trims keep your hair looking and feeling gorgeously healthy as the end damage is cut off, just make sure you keep it that way!
9. Avoid chemical damage as much as possible. This includes pool chlorine, bleach and any other chemical-rich hair dyes. If you must dye your hair, either use a natural dye or find a professional to do it for you. One messed-up home hair dye session means years worth of growth ruined simultaneously, so be careful what you put in there!
10. Style with care. Any tight buns, ponytails or barettes which pull on your hair are an absolute sin when it comes to healthy hair. Use a gentle, natural brush and a soft scrunchie rather than tight rubber bands when styling if you absolutely must wear your hair up. When using products, remember the golden rule of 'less is more'. More product means more buildup, so a light wax and spray are the very most that should be applied daily. Broken hairs are bad news, and rough styling will rapidly put unnecessary stress on your hair.
If you're growing your hair out, these tips should be regarded as even more important: unhealthy hair will simply break away when grown longer. Do your hair a favour and keep it beautiful!