Best Natural Hair Care Methods
"A lot of what people do for their hair leaves it brittle, weak, and ripe for hair loss."
In today’s live show, Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, continues with her popular series on how to achieve, full, rich, and soft hair as we age. Busy schedules makes it hard for most people to properly care for their hair, leaving it brittle, weak, and ripe for hair loss.
Discover the best ways to care for hair today, and Dr. Nancy will provide her suggestions for the best shampoos and conditioners, lifestyle tips for healthy hair, and much more.
- 05:05: The best ways to keep your hair healthy
- 07:08: How Frequently Should You Wash Your Hair?
- 08:00: Dry shampoo
- 12:57: Speaking of texture…
- 16:35: Do conditioners really work?
- 18:38: The best shampoos and conditioners to use on your hair
- 24:08: DIY Natural Shampoo and Conditioner
- 36:00 Let’s talk about dandruff
- 40:33: Wrap-Up
Recently, we did an introductory article on some of the causes of hair loss. Today’s show will be Part 2 in a 3-part series on natural ways to achieve, full, rich and soft hair as we age. Part 2 will address the best ways to care for your hair. A lot of what we do to our hair makes it weaker and more prone to hair loss. That’s not good! So today, we’ll learn proper hair care techniques, and you’ll get a few recipes for a natural shampoo and conditioner you can make with ingredients you may already have around your house.
The best ways to keep your hair healthy
Your hair is mostly made up of protein, so making sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet is one of the quickest ways to ensure your hair stays nice and healthy. You should be getting 30 grams every meal — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That translates to a palm-sized amount of protein and includes chicken, turkey, beans, eggs, and fish. Lean proteins and fatty fish are a great way to promote healthy hair, and they also help keep inflammation in the body at bay, which is something else that can affect the health of your hair.
In addition to making sure you’re getting the right amount of protein and nutrients, as well as how often you style and treat your hair, the frequency with which you shampoo and condition also has a major affect the health of your hair.
How Frequently Should You Wash Your Hair?
Did you know that you don’t need to wash your hair every day? In fact, shampooing your hair too often can damage it over time. Frequent washing can dry out your scalp and force it to overproduce oil to make up for the oil you stripped away by washing it. By shampooing less frequently, you’re training your scalp to produce less oil. It’s all about finding that balance. Europeans tend to be better at this, with most washing their hair a maximum of 2 or 3 times per week.
A lot of people have begun reaching for dry shampoos to save time on washing. You simply spray dry shampoo at the roots of your hair, and strip it of oils, which lifts hair and makes it feel clean. Unfortunately, it also clogs your hair follicles, and over time can actually cause hair loss and damage to the scalp. Plus, it's full of chemicals, so it's best to avoid it.
We all have natural oils in our skin and hair called sebum. The hair produces more sebum than any other part of the body and it’s what makes your scalp oily. It’s also what keeps the hair from getting too dry.
Here are a few things to consider when gauging how often you should be washing your hair:
If you have a normal skin type, meaning your skin’s not too dry or too oily, you really should only need to wash your hair one or two times each week.
To find out if you have oily hair, give your scalp a scratch and check for an oily film on your fingers. If you look like you have hair gel in your hair by the end of the day (but you haven't applied hair gel), that’s also a good indicator that you have oily hair.
People frequently ask whether they should shampoo after their scalp gets sweaty, whether it’s from hanging out at the pool, working out in the yard, or from exercising. The answer is, you do not need to shampoo your hair after you sweat. Your hair actually benefits from the salt of your sweat, which is a good thing. It can prevent your hair from drying out and it can also give your hair a bit of texture.
Speaking of texture…
Texture is another factor to consider when determining how often you should be shampooing your hair. Is your hair straight and fine? Or is it curly, coarse, or dry? People who have coarse hair also only need to shampoo about once a week. That’s because the sebum takes longer to make its way down the hair shaft. But if you have straight hair that’s also fine in texture, you will need to shampoo more often — two times or more per week.
On days when you’re not shampooing your hair, it’s still a great idea to get it wet, rinse it out, and give yourself a nice scalp massage. Rinsing your hair should be good enough to get rid of any excess sebum on those days when you’re not shampooing. Massaging the scalp will increase blood flow to the hair follicles, which will improve circulation and promote hair growth. Plus, massaging your scalp will help you de-stress, which will cut down on inflammation in the body, which will also help keep your hair healthy.
Another thing you can do on those days when you’re just giving your hair a rinse is put a little conditioner on the ends of your hair. Which brings us to the next point:
Do conditioners really work?
Many hair professionals believe conditioners are effective, but there are equally as many hair experts that don’t believe we should use them. Let’s look deeper into this.
Conditioners are intended to put moisture back into your hair. They also supposed to prevent split ends, and prevent the hair from breaking because they protect, detangle, smooth, and soften your hair in addition to adding moisture. Plus, conditioners claim to help cut down frizz and give your hair a beautiful shine.
Everyone’s hair is different, so some may need conditioner more often than others. Chances are, you don’t need to use it every time you wash. It’s also a good idea to apply conditioner only to the ends rather than the roots, where it has the potential to affect sebum production.
We suggest mainly using conditioner on the days you are not shampooing. Ring out all the excess moisture after rinsing your hair and giving your scalp a little massage, and apply some conditioner just to the ends from time to time. This will protect the hair and prevent split ends.
The best shampoos and conditioners to use on your hair
Commercial shampoos and conditioners can contain a lot of harmful chemicals like:
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Polyethylene glycol
- Heavy fragrances
These chemicals can dry out or irritate the scalp, cause allergic reactions, or cause the hair to break more easily. On a deeper level, these chemicals are also known hormone and estrogen disruptors that can cause weight gain, immune system issues, and have been linked to cancer.
In addition, the term “fragrance” allows manufacturers to opt out of including a list of the ingredients used to create that fragrance, as the term is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So if “fragrance” is listed as an ingredient, there’s no telling what’s really in the product. Believe it or not, there are more than 3,100 chemicals used by the fragrance industry to concoct these suspicious-sounding additions to your shampoos and conditioners — most of them are not natural, and can be troublesome over time.
The good news is, there are really wonderful, nourishing, and effective shampoos and conditioners on the market that are entirely natural and will work to help keep your hair super healthy. If you watched our show about hair loss, you know Dr. Nancy uses a natural shampoo called Karite. It’s extremely nourishing, and great for people who have sensitive skin.
A quick Google search of the best all-natural shampoos and conditioners will give you a lot of Top 10 lists from various magazines and experts. As you’re navigating these, consider your goals — what are you hoping to ultimately get out of your shampoo and conditioner? Are you looking for more moisture? Do you want to prevent breakage? Are you looking to restore health to your damaged, over-treated hair? Or do you just need something that’s not going to irritate sensitive skin?
Once you know your ultimate hair goal, look for shampoos and conditioners that contain natural, preferably organic, ingredients and are free from harsh chemicals and fragrances. Products with healthy oils like coconut, shea, jojoba, or avocado oils are great, as are products that contain essential oils over chemical perfumes.
DIY Natural Shampoo and Conditioner
You can also make your own shampoo and conditioner very easily at home. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1/4 cup canned or homemade coconut milk. Coconut milk is very moisturizing and full of lauric acid, which is anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial, meaning it prevents itchy, irritated scalp.
- 1/4 cup liquid castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s
- 20 drops of peppermint, lavender, rosemary, or tea tree essential oil. Feel free to use a combination! Each of these essential oils are great for promoting hair growth and keeping your hair healthy.
- 1/2 tsp olive, avocado, jojoba, or olive oil for those with dry hair
Combine all the ingredients in a jar or an old shampoo bottle. Give it a good shake and voila! Homemade shampoo! It should keep for up to a month in your shower — just make sure you give it a shake each time before you use it.
You can also make your own super nourishing conditioner. Here are a few things you can use, and you probably have them in your kitchen cupboard right now!
- Beat one egg in a bowl and add 6 tablespoons of yogurt. Combine and apply to your hair. Let sit for about 20 minutes and rinse it out.
- Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 4 tablespoons aloe vera gel. Apply and leave on your hair for 5 minutes before rinsing.
- This one is great for tips of your hair only. Mix 2 tablespoons unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of raw, organic honey with 2 cups of water. Again, only apply this to the ends of your hair.
One more DIY conditioner has a few more ingredients, but each one packs a punch in terms of benefitting the health of your hair.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 eggs — eggs are a great natural conditioner for your hair, and make your hair nice and shiny
- 1 tbsp vinegar — vinegar helps prevent hair loss
- 2 tsp lemon juice — lemon juice stimulates growth and controls the production of oil on the scalp
- 1 ½ tsp olive oil — olive oil strengthens your hair
- 1 tbsp honey — honey keeps your hair nice and hydrated
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or a blender, until they make a thick paste. Apply this nice conditioning hair mask to your hair or to the ends, leave on for about 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse it out. Your hair will immediately feel so healthy and hydrated!
Let’s talk about dandruff
This is a common problem that plagues up to 50% of adults. Things like hormonal imbalances, stress, a weakened immune system, depression, poor diet, and certain medications can all cause dandruff, which is an itchy, sometimes inflamed scalp, accompanied by those little white flakes of dead skin cells that show up on the surface of your hair or on your shoulders.
However, there are certain things you can do to help prevent dandruff, such as eating a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet. Also, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish can reduce inflammation and help combat dandruff, and incorporating probiotics into your diet can give your immune system a boost while lessening the chances of your scalp drying out. You can take a probiotic daily supplement and include fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, or kimchi into your diet.
Another way to help naturally prevent dandruff is to try to eliminate as much stress as possible from your life. Ways to do this include exercising regularly, taking a yoga class, maybe trying breathing exercises.
And if you already have dandruff, there are several natural things you can use to control it, including:
- Tea tree oil. Dilute a little tea tree oil in some coconut oil and apply it directly to your scalp.
- Coconut oil. Use coconut oil by itself. Coconut oil can be very hydrating to your skin. Again, apply it directly to your scalp.
- Aloe vera. Aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory and can soothe the symptoms of dandruff.
- Baking soda. Baking soda is an antifungal that can also act as a natural exfoliant and remove those pesky white dandruff flakes when gently massaged into the scalp.
Today, we talked all about how to keep your hair healthy and nourished. Simple lifestyle ways you can do this include:
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods, including 4-6 ounces of lean proteins with every meal.
- Up your intake of omega-3s by either taking a supplement or eating more fatty fish.
- Also, increase your intake of probiotics. Make sure to take Smarter Gut Health every day with the 3 top gut balancing probiotic strains.
- Depending on your skin type and the texture of your hair, you should only wash your hair one to two times per week. Doing so will allow your scalp to produce the right amount of natural oils, which will prevent your scalp from getting too oily or too dry.
- A scalp that is too dry can lead to dandruff, something that affects as many as 50% of adults, since most commercial shampoos are way too harsh. And that same anti-inflammatory diet, with more omega-3s, can work wonders in preventing those pesky white flakes.
- Try and use shampoos and conditioners that are free from heavy fragrances, parabens, sulfates, glycols, and alcohols. These can cause dryness, irritation, and breakage. Instead, look for all-natural organic shampoos.
- Make your own shampoo and conditioner! Apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, aloe vera, coconut oil, egg — all these things can give you perfectly moisturized, shiny, strong hair.
If you found today’s show helpful, make sure you share it with your friends, and let us know what hair treatments you use in the comments. Tune in for our next show, where we will discuss hair replacement options.