Natural, organic and eco-beauty trends are in; conventional methods that create damage or use harsh or harmful chemicals are out!
We are kicking off the new year and new decade by covering the most important things you can do now to limit your hair damage and have gorgeous, healthier hair.
Many forward-thinking hair stylists, beauty bloggers and those who research hair care industry trends are recommending “less is more” when it comes to washing your hair. This varies for every person and the activities and circumstances of each day, but ideally you don’t want to wash every day or even every other day. Most people can get away with once a week or twice a week.
The last year saw increasing attention paid to hair products that avoid sulfates, parabens, and silicones as well as the “No Poo” method that basically calls for the elimination or dramatic decrease in use of shampoos. This doesn’t mean to stop washing your hair! Instead the advent of “conditioning cleansers,” dry shampoos and skipping shampoo by using only conditioner every other time or so, has been improving hair health across the board. (Read, “How Often Should You Wash Your Hair” to learn more tips about cleansing your hair.)
Towel with a soft touch. Don’t wring or strongly rub the towel back and forth across your hair as this roughs up the cuticle and makes the hair look dry and fuzzy. And, don’t brush wet hair--when your hair is wet, it is ~30% weaker and more likely to break. Use a wooden comb on wet hair and be very gentle, starting at the bottom and working your way up.
Avoid tight ponytails unless you use a soft fabric scrunchy or CharlieCurl. Make hair into a loose braid instead to keep from breaking off hair strands or putting too much tension on the scalp.
Heat damage can leave your hair looking dull and frizzy, and your scalp irritated. Heat styling is a major cause of dry, damaged hair. We strongly recommend staying away from conventional curling irons and drying hair naturally when possible.
Some of the manifestations of heat include:
Hair dryers and curling irons on a high heat setting are the main culprits in drying out both the hair strands and the scalp. And direct heat on wet hair can actually boil the water molecules inside the hair strands, causing deformation of the cuticle which allows hair to dry out and and weaken.
An intensive protein or oil treatment can help patch up chips, cracks, and breaks in the cuticle of the hair temporarily. Long term hair health depends on frequent trims (even just ¼” off the ends!), good diet and plenty of moisture. DIY methods using oils with a small cellular structure like coconut, olive or jojoba/argan oils work to introduce moisture back into the interior of the hair strand.
If heat is a must, use a spray heat protectant. Many heat protectant products have ingredients including oils, vitamins and proteins that can nourish your hair. Then try to use heatless styling methods such as the CharlieCurls no heat hair curler to maintain great looks.
Replace harmful chemicals with natural, safer and cruelty-free alternatives in your hair care products.
The easiest and most effective change to eliminate chemicals, is to learn the value of water. Water (H2O) has Hydrogen in it and your hair strands have Hydrogen in their outer cuticle layer. When hair is wet the Hydrogen bonds in the hair are broken, which is why hair appears (and actually is) slightly longer when it is wet. The hydrogen bonds reform as hair dries, so if it is in a curler as it dries, the hydrogen bonds reform in the curled state. There are quite a few caveats to this, please see our blog article “Hair Mist Refresher” for greater detail.
Our fabulous refillable eco-minded CharlieCurls hair mister delivers a continuous ultra light water mist without toxic propellants, eliminating, for many people, the need for any kind of products and allowing hair to stay clean longer. You are also not filling the air and your lungs with chemicals that aerosols use to make their sprays even.
Refillable containers are old-school in some regards, but all the rage as consumers look to decrease their single-use plastics footprint further. With the rise of do-it-yourself DIY approaches to homemade hair and beauty recipes, reusable containers and eco hair misters can help you reduce or eliminate the need for any kind of products and allow hair to stay clean longer.
CharlieCurls hair mister bottle is not only refillable and better for the environment, the mist produced is continuous and ultra-fine at all spray angles, without any harmful toxic propellants. Bottle contents can be customized with scents or ingredients that individual users determine are best for their health, hair and their particular nose. A couple drops of an essential oil like lavender can brighten your day. Additional moisture and shine can be added with fractionated coconut or argan oil (check out some DIY natural hair mist recipes on our Pinterest board). Even those most sensitive to synthetic or natural chemicals love our mister because they can use just plain water to set their hair! (Read more about the many benefits of using a continuous hair mister for your hair’s health and the health of our planet.)
There are many reasons why using wooden brushes and combs to detangle and brush your hair is best. First, wood, like your hair, has a negative charge, so wood doesn’t cause static and fly-aways. Second, wood is carbon based, just like your hair and scalp, so they have a comfortable, compatible feel. People have been talking about this for some time: ancient Chinese and Aruvedic cultures have touted the holistic and healing benefits of wooden combs for centuries, pioneering long hair care methods that optimize key energy chakras and maximize nutrient benefits. To see our new wooden comb and to read more details about why we love it, check out the blog article we dedicated to this topic: Wood Comb Benefits: 9 Reasons Wood over Plastic is Healthier.
Your scalp is the creator of the natural hair oils that nourish, condition and protect your hair strands. It is at your scalp that hair is alive and growing. Condition the scalp when conditioning your hair. We even put body moisturizer on our scalp a few minutes before washing - it is a bit like putting moisturizer on other parts of your body. This can help eliminate dandruff and itchy scalp, and it will make the hair follicles happy, allowing them to produce more hair strands over many more years.
Stress can impact our inward and outward appearances, including our hair, and cause depletion or dysregulation of minerals like magnesium and zinc and accelerate the ageing process. Do what you can to be mindful about the level of stress in your life. Go for a walk, sit in silence, breathe in nature, diffuse some essential oils, listen to a guided meditation…try grounding, or “earthing” as a way to eliminate dissonance in your energetic field. Add a reminder to your scheduler for self care! Even if it’s just to deep condition your hair while you wear a skin-supporting face mask and trying to be mindful of your thoughts for 10 minutes! We personally love the Stress Rehab facial mask by Pacifica Beauty.
Modern living has brought on new ways our bodies can experience stress, even if our minds do not associate them as stressful activities. For instance, chronically staying up late and looking at bright blue-light emitting phone, tablet or TV screens have been shown to reduce melatonin levels in the body (we did not evolve with our smart devices, despite how much we as a society love them). Try taking a break from screens for a few hours or days if you can, and truly focus-in on your self care time and getting quality sleep aka “beauty rest.”
Eat foods that are healthy for your hair and your body, like recipes that include salmon, avocado or coconut which are chalk full of healthy fats, amino acids and minerals. Take up a new inner-beauty regimine by adding daily supplements like Pacifica’s oral beauty and hair care gummies. Their “Beauty Drops,” are an easy way to (as they put it) “slay your day while up-leveling your water with killer ingredients” such as hyaluronic acid and biotin: You Slay Beauty Drops.
And just plain, drink more water—it hydrates cells and facilitates the flow of nutrients throughout your body including your brain. Ensure you are drinking as close as possible to eight glasses a day, and try to have filtered water or natural spring water whenever possible. We personally love Starkey’s water, as it can be purchased in glass bottles, has not traveled from out of country or continent adding to extra freight emissions (if you are in North America) and the water has a very high silica count. Research has shown silica in water can help naturally pull toxic aluminum and other heavy metals out of your system.
We are not medical professionals, so we are not about to go into detail about various methods for detox—please talk to your medical provider—but we can certainly remind everyone that no matter how hard we try to avoid environmental toxins, we inevitably get exposed to them despite best intentions.
Your hair follicles and scalp along with hair strands are constantly absorbing whatever is in the air around you and whatever you put into your body in the form of food and drink. Poor hair health can be a sign that your body is struggling with internal or external toxins or out-of-sync vitamins and minerals.
Toxin exposure and hair health has very strong ties. A simple Google search for “how do toxins impact hair health” links to a study from 2018 examining a growing list of potential toxic causes for Alopecia, or hair loss. Here’s a snippet from their introduction:
“Historically, the literature linking the overdose of certain toxins to hair loss has been heavily focused on heavy metals. In the last decade, the literature still discusses heavy metals, such as thallium and mercury, but now also includes a number of non-metal toxins that are also associated with alopecia. These toxins range from dietary supplements, such as selenium, to prescription drugs, such as colchicine, to fungi, such as Podostroma cornu-damae. In the first review of its kind, we evaluate the evidence behind toxic causes of alopecia and summarize common presentations, as well as associated signs and symptoms of toxicity.”
Try to avoid toxin exposure. There are hidden toxin culprits that many don’t ever think of, like conventional wines which can often include traces of glyphosate (RoundUp). While wines may not list that as an ingredient, there are loads of consumer products we can carefully review before we put them into or on our bodies. Go organic whenever possible with food and drink, and avoid the top beauty and hair product toxins (read more: “10 Toxic Ingredients Lurking in Your Beauty Products” and “10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients to Avoid.”
Movement and Stimulation is powerful for detox. Even short, brisk walks or a few minutes of jumping jacks during the day can support lymphatic fluid movement, as can specific massage methods by therapists trained in lymphatic drainage techniques. Turn your water temperature to cold the last part of your shower, Brrr, but even if just for a few moments, it will help circulation, invigorate the senses and enliven your cells. Try activating and stimulating your skin with a body roller. Pacifica Beauty offers one that features serpentine crystal, which they say is a “regeneration or detox stone,” and is said to have “powerful energy that helps clear blockages and stagnation in any of your chakras.”
Experiment with what works for you! Your unique set of genetic, environmental and product-use factors are completely individual to you.
Want to get super personal with what YOUR hair is telling you about your health? Hair mineral analyses are screening tests that when properly interpreted can reveal imbalances that indicate a tendency for various conditions. The analysis will measure both external and internal factors, so a high iron content may indicate you are consuming too much iron, or it may be that you wash with hard water that has a high iron content, so be conscientious in reading results.
A hair mineral analysis test can reveal your specific mineral deficiencies or heavy metal toxin load, but it can also provide a guide for how you and your practitioner can work together to improve your overall health, impacting both your internal and external appearances.
It takes weeks for a hair sample to show changes in the body, because hair grows so slowly. Hair samples may not show recent changes, such as pharmaceutical or recreational drug use within the past few days. It can show drug use or exposure to chemicals that occurred over the last several months.
Even though genetics and aging do indeed have influence over your hair’s growth rate, strength and size of hair follicles, your lifestyle and environment both play a key role. Take an integrative and personalized approach rather than just treating damaged or lackluster hair with topical treatments.
Remember, each person’s hair (and body) is unique, so your customized hair care regimen and overall health routines should also be individualized to you personally; to your preferences and to the current state of your hair and health.