Natural appeal - The key to healthy, strong beautiful hair

For many people, hair is a fundamental element of their personal style, so it comes as no surprise that the global hair care market is now worth approximately USD 83.1 billion. Keeping up with the latest trends and choosing high maintenance styles can take a toll on even well cared for hair. Although salon treatments can help, the key to actually reviving lacklustre locks may lie elsewhere. We took a look at some natural, more holistic alternatives.

BOOST NUTRITION


There are many advantages to having a good, well-balanced diet, but certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients are particularly beneficial when it comes to improving the condition of hair.

Protein is especially important because it encourages growth and makes hair stronger, without it, it can become dry and brittle. The best sources of protein are foods like chicken, lean meat, fish, eggs and cheese, but legumes, lentils, nuts and tofu are a good secondary source.

Iron also promotes hair growth, ensuring that the follicles receive a constant supply of nutrients. Iron-rich foods include oysters, red meat, lentils and green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli.

Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron and helps in the production of collagen, which is essential for healthy hair. Berries such as blackcurrants, strawberries and blueberries, and other fruits such as oranges, kiwis and papaya are high in vitamin C, so should be included as part of a nutritious diet.

Omega-3 is needed to keep hair hydrated and the scalp healthy, but the body cannot produce its own, so foods such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds should be eaten regularly.


NOURISH WITH OILS


Hair has to withstand a great deal, from colour treatments and repeated washing to sun exposure and heated styling, but the application of certain oils can work wonders if it starts to look and feel tired or over-processed.


Argan oil, also called ‘liquid gold,’ is a favourite amongst many top stylists, known for its moisturising and hydrating properties. It is extracted from the kernels of the argan tree and contains vitamin E, omega-6 and other fatty acids, as well antioxidants. Argan oil is ideal for use on coloured hair, but it is also good at reducing frizz, protecting against heat damage and preventing split ends.

Macadamia oil is popular for use on dry and curly hair because it contains palmitoleic acid which is found in the naturally occurring oil, sebum, on the scalp. It is easily absorbed and penetrates both the scalp and follicles, helping to strengthen hair, prevent breakage and smooth curls.

Suitable for all hair types, coconut oil is an effective conditioner that promotes growth. Like macadamia oil, it penetrates the follicles, leaving hair moisturised, soft and shiny. Coconut oil is rich in nutrients, vitamins E and K, and also contains lauric acid, which can improve the health of hair and help prevent damage.


SOOTHE WITH MASSAGE


A scalp massage is more than just relaxing, it can actually improve the condition of hair and encourage it to grow. For centuries it has featured in care routines because it helps boost circulation which channels more nutrients to the hair follicles. Massage is also thought to promote the release of endorphins and feel-good chemicals such as serotonin, which can lower stress and help organs function more efficiently. This, in turn, can enhance the ability of follicles to grow hair.

Regular scalp massage has several benefits; most notably it helps spread natural oils, improving the appearance and texture of hair. It may even make it less prone to brittleness, split ends and dandruff. It is also thought to help increase resilience to environmental factors such as pollution, and variations in temperature.


The positive effects of scalp massage can be heightened when combined with essential oils that have been diluted and mixed with a carrier oil like jojoba. Tea tree oil is popular because it soothes and encourages blood flow to the scalp, whereas lavender and rosemary can reduce inflammation and stimulate growth, revitalising damaged or thinning hair.


© puhhha, Luisa Puccini/123RF


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