Believe what you see on TV and you might get the idea that only brand-name shampoos and conditioners can give you the buoyant and swirling strands that make life such fun. What those ads don’t tell you is that something as simple as mayonnaise can add just as much luster to too-dry locks, giving you the bounce and flounce that those models flaunt.
Your hair can become dry, rough, brittle, and frizzy for many reasons. It’s a non-living material, similar in composition to your fingernails, but each strand has an outer layer of cells that protect the inner hair shaft. If this coating becomes damaged, hair loses moisture and luster, and the ends become frayed. Chlorine, excessive sunlight, and heat from blow-dryers and curling irons can all damage it. Also, some people tend to have dry hair just because they don’t have an abundance of oil-producing glands on their scalps.
Start in the Shower
- Only wash your hair every other day. Your hair will stay clean enough, and you’ll leave in more of its natural oils.
- Use baby shampoo, which is less drying than some other shampoos.
- Wash and rinse your hair with warm rather than hot water. Hot water strips protective oils from your hair. The best temperature for your hair is just a bit warmer than your body temperature.
- Thoroughly rinse your hair after you shampoo it. Shampoo can leave a residue in hair, which dries out the strands.
- Avocado moisturizes hair shafts and loads them with protein, making them stronger.Thoroughly mix a ripe, peeled avocado with a teaspoon of wheat-germ oil and a teaspoon of jojoba oil. Apply it to freshly washed hair, and spread it all the way to the ends. Cover your scalp with a shampoo cap or a plastic bag, wait 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
- Mayonnaise is an excellent alternative to avocado; the egg it contains is a good source of protein for your hair. Rub the mayo into your hair and leave in for anywhere up to an hour, then wash it out.
Stay in Condition
- If you use a store-bought conditioner, pick one with a “thermal protector” ingredient like dimethicone or phenyl trimethicone. These protect your hair from heat, which is especially important if you blow-dry.
- Make your own conditioner by mixing two ounces olive oil and two ounces aloe vera gel with six drops each of rosemary and sandalwood essential oils. Olive oil is a natural emollient, aloe vera hydrates, while rosemary adds body and softness to hair. (The sandalwood, which is optional, just adds fragrance.) Leave the mixture on for an hour or two, then rinse it out.
- When you use a conditioner, first apply it liberally to the ends, where hair is the driest. Then work your way toward your scalp.
- In a frizz emergency, simply use a little bit of hand lotion and smooth it through dry hair.
Let your hair air-dry whenever possible. If you must use a blow-dryer, use it sparingly. The same goes for curling irons or hot rollers. When you apply heat, it’s like drying out a leaf in sunlight: You’re inviting brittleness.
When you do use the hair dryer, make sure you use a warm, not hot, setting.
Brush Up on Your Brushing Technique
Use a brush that has natural rather than plastic bristles. Plastic generates static electricity, which will make your hair more brittle.
First brush the ends to remove tangles. That way, you won’t pull and break your hair when you take full strokes with the brush.
After you brush the ends, take long, full strokes all the way from the roots of your hair to the ends to spread hair’s natural oils.
Strengthen Your Strands
B vitamins may make hair stronger. Take one 50-milligram B-complex supplement twice a day with food.
The mineral selenium is also helpful for maintaining healthy hair. Take 200 micrograms twice a day.
A beneficial oil that may help keep hair lustrous from inside your body is evening primrose. Try taking 1,000 milligrams of evening primrose supplements three times a day. The oil is high in gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid.
The Power of Prevention
When you swim in a chlorinated pool, wear a swimming cap to keep the chlorine away from your hair. As soon as possible after getting out of the pool, wash your hair.
Use a humidifier in your bedroom. In cold weather, your home heating probably keeps the air very dry, which in turn dries out your hair.
Get your hair trimmed at least every six weeks to eliminate dry, split ends.