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10 Homemade Hair Mask Recipes to Try At Home

image02We aren’t born with perfect hair.

But we can get closer – with all-natural hair mask recipes that help repair damage, nourish our scalps, and eliminate product build-up.

If you’re looking for a way to give your mane a new lease on life, try one of these recipes on for size:

1. For Damaged Hair

From high heat styling tools to harsh chemical treatments, hair gets damaged in all sorts of ways.

This nourishing hair mask from BuzzFeed gives your hair a boost with egg yolk, honey, and coconut oil to restore moisture, protein, and shine.

“Eggs work as a cleaning agent because of the lecithin they contain, and it can produce healthier tresses due to their high volume of protein,” explains Lucy Aitken Read at Cosmopolitan. “Essentially an egg is nature’s two in one shampoo and conditioner.”

Combine 1 egg yolk, two tablespoons of coconut oil, and one tablespoon of honey. Apply to your hair and let set for 30 minutes. Wash the mask out with your normal shampoo and conditioner.

 

2. To Reduce Breakage

Hair breaks – or gets split ends – when it’s fragile, dry, and brittle.

This can happen because of styling choices, but sometimes there’s something more serious going on with your diet, and breakage is a sign you need to up your protein intake.

Help your hair heal with a hair mask made from Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Greek yogurt helps give your hair a protein boost, while apple cider vinegar will cleanse your tresses, and honey will help seal in moisture.

Combine 1 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of honey. Apply to your hair from roots to tips, then let it set for about 15 minutes. Rinse with water.

 

3. For An Itchy Scalp

Colder weather got you down? Combat dandruff and itch with a lemon juice and olive oil hair treatment that’ll leave your tresses feeling nourished and refreshed.

“The acidity in lemon juice helps rid your scalp of any loose, dry flakes of skin, while the olive oil moisturizes the [newly exposed] skin on your head,” natural beauty expert Janice Cox told Woman’s Day.

To find relief, combine two tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of lemon juice and another two tablespoons of water.

Apply to your hair, massage into your scalp, and let it set for about 20 minutes. Shampoo as normal. Use every other week.

 

4. For Dry Hair

Hair that’s been chemically relaxed or even dyed can often feel dry and brittle. Breathe some moisture back into your hair with a honey and olive oil double whammy.

“Both honey and olive oil are great humectants, meaning they attract and hold onto water molecules,” writes Nikki Walton, founder of the lifestyle blog CurlyNikki.com.

“Honey is a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. So this mask will also help with dandruff and scalp irritation.”

Per Nikki’s instructions, mix one tablespoon of honey with two tablespoons of olive oil and let it set for about 20 minutes.

You can also add essential oils to the mixture to further nourish your locks. Rinse and wash with your normal shampoo and conditioner.

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5. To Restore Moisture

If you need to take a deep, hydrating dive, this French clay, avocado oil, and lavender essential oil mask will leave your hair smooth, shiny, and stronger than ever.

“The high silica content of the clay helps to soothe irritated scalp conditions like dandruff, decrease breakage, and add shine and lustre to hair,” writes Walton.

Mix ¼ cup of Rhassoul clay, 1 tablespoon avocado oil, 70ml of water, and a few drops of an essential oil like lavender together. Work in sections across your scalp, beginning at the roots of your hair and drawing the mixture down.

Slap on a shower cap, watch your favorite 30-minute TV show, and you’re good to go.

 

6. For Natural Hair

Ladies who rock natural hair understand how important locking major moisture into your locks can be.

“Those with thick, curly hair can be more prone to dryness and frizz, which makes a boost of hydration paramount,” writes Rebecca Taras at Refinery29.

Try this avocado, mayonnaise, coconut oil, and honey mask straight from the hair gurus at BuzzFeed for an ultra-hydrating treatment.

Mix half an avocado with ¼ cup of mayonnaise, two tablespoons of avocado oil, and one tablespoon of honey in a large bowl.

Apply to your hair in sections, from the roots to the tips, cover with a shower cap, and wait 30 minutes. Rinse and wash with conditioner.

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7. For Curly Hair

Thick, curly hair also needs a little extra TLC – it can take a good amount of conditioner to make your tresses perk up!

Whip up a conditioning mask from 1 egg, two tablespoons of mayonnaise, one tablespoon of olive oil, and one tablespoon of honey.

Apply to your hair, wrap in a towel, and wait thirty minutes before washing out with shampoo and conditioner.

While it might sound weird to use condiments on your hair, mayo actual works wonders, says beauty writer Rebecca Sample Gerstung.

“Mayo is made with an oil base, and it makes hair shine,” Gerstung explains at Real Simple.

Meanwhile, the egg will help restore proteins and vitamins to your hair, while the olive oil and honey provide much-needed moisture.

 

8. To Beat Product Build-Up

If you use a ton of product to keep your hair in line, you could be headed for limp, lifeless hair weighed down by build-up.

For beauty expert Janice Cox, there’s one simple solution: baking soda.

“Nothing eats through product buildup like baking soda,” Cox told Woman’s Day. That’s because baking soda will cut through acidity like a knife through butter.

To use Cox’s suggested treatment, mix up to two tablespoons of baking soda into a paste with water. Apply to damp hair, and wait for 15 minutes before hopping in the shower and shampooing as normal.

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9. To Restore Elasticity

Heat damage or chemical treatments can make our hair feel limp – unable to bounce back from the rough treatment.

If this problem sounds familiar, whip up this banana, honey, and olive oil mask from StyleCaster to get back on track.

“Banana has just enough protein to improve elasticity while the combo of honey and oil moisturizes strands and hydrates the scalp,” explains Shannon Farrell at the top-notch beauty blog.

Mix one ripened – soft – banana, one tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of olive oil, and a few drops of lavender essential oil in a large bowl, then apply from roots to tips, massaging your scalp.

Wrap in a towel, and let the mask sit for 15 minutes before washing.

 

10. To Restore Shine

Feeling a little lackluster headed into the holiday season? Then it’s time to turn on some mega-wattage shine with a nourishing mixture of avocado, coconut milk, and honey.

“The omegas in both avocado and coconut milk moisturize and repair…damaged hair, adding shine in the process,” explains Victoria Dawson Hoff at Elle. “Maple syrup (or honey) also conditions and adds shine.”

In a blender, combine a whole avocado, one cup of coconut milk, a tablespoon of honey, and lemon oil if you have it on hand.

Apply in sections from the roots of your hair to the tips, then cover with a shower cap and wait for 30 minutes.

Rinse out, then shampoo and condition as normal. With all that avocado and coconut milk, you should see an immediate difference in the shine and lustre of your hair.

If you have major hair envy when celebs hit the red carpet, then it might be time to up your hair game.

Each of these hair masks is designed to solve a tricky – but oh-so-common – problem, and you can find many of the ingredients in your pantry or the grocery store.

Gorgeous, well-hydrated hair is within reach – you just have to work for it. Or, in this case, sit back and read your fave magazine while the hair mask does the work for you.

Do you have a no-fail DIY treatment you depend on for shiny, well-nourished hair? Tell us your secret recipe in the comments below:

Images: Pixabay, Pixabay, Flickr, Unsplash

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Itchy Scalp? Try These 5 Steps Now

image02With the cold winds of winter comes dry, itchy skin – and, for many of us, a dry, itchy scalp, too.

As embarrassing as it may feel to deal with a little dandruff on your shoulder, it’s a super common problem – and there’s plenty you can do to address it.

According to dermatologist Fayne Frey, almost everyone “experiences dandruff at some point in their lives — usually individuals from adolescence to about age 50, when the sebaceous glands are most active.”

Even if it’s small comfort to know you’re not alone, you’ll be relieved to learn there’s an end in sight to that persistent itch.

Here’s our five-step guide to stopping your scratching in its tracks:

1. Do Some Sleuthing

First things first – do you really know why you’re itching?

Dandruff – or seborrheic dermatitis – is one of the most common scalp problems dermatologists diagnose.

Your scalp might feel dry and itchy, but dandruff is often caused – paradoxically – by oil glands working in overdrive.

“It’s the cause of an overproduction of oil or other secretions in the skin, or an increase in normal skin yeasts,” cosmetic surgeon Carlos Wesley told Glamour.

As extra oil builds up on your scalp, the skin cells you would normally shed in the course of your day stick around instead.

The extra cells start to build up over time – and it feels really uncomfortable. Cue your furious scratching, and an embarrassing amount of dandruff flaking from your scalp.

Still, there’s always the possibility that your dry, itchy scalp isn’t dandruff at all, but an allergic reaction to a recent dye job or hair product.

“Allergic reactions will generally go away on their own if you can identify and avoid the chemical to which you are allergic,” reassure the experts at the Cleveland Health Clinic.

“This is challenging and specialized tests in a dermatologist’s office may be needed to sort out which chemical is causing the allergy.”

Even more serious can be cases of ringworm or autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, all of which can cause redness, irritation, hair loss, and unbearable itching.

“Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent psoriasis, but the condition is often controllable,” Dr. Frey told Refinery29.

“Preventing flare-ups may be possible with shampoos containing tar or selenium sulfide.”

Like dandruff, psoriasis is an extremely common scalp condition, even though it only “affects 2% of the population,” according to Frey.

If a few weeks of avoiding styling products and using an anti-dandruff shampoo get you nowhere, then it’s probably time to make an appointment with your doc to discuss what’s going on up there.

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2. Get Your Shampoo On

If you’ve got run-of-the-mill itchy scalp and want to fight back, find a way to treat that oil build-up as soon as possible. For most of us, that means it’s time to lather up.

“[If] you have yeast overgrowth, it’s going to benefit you to shampoo a little more frequently,” dermatologist David Bank explained to Women’s Health.

“[Every] time you do it, you’re basically working on crowd control in terms of trying to get rid of the excess amount of yeast that’s partly driving the flaking.”

With the right shampoo and the right balance of treatment, all of your efforts at “crowd control” will eventually translate into sustainable relief.

Look for shampoos that contain dandruff treatments like zinc or selenium sulfide, then apply your ‘poo directly to the scalp for the best results, says dermatologist Papri Sarkar.

“For most people I recommend using [anti-dandruff shampoo] only on the scalp, not the hair, because it is quite drying,” Sakrar told Glamour.

“You can rotate it with other shampoos but make sure to use it at least a few times a week to prevent the spot from coming back.”

Flakes be gone!

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3. Exfoliate Away

That’s right: you can – and should – exfoliate your scalp, especially if you’re experiencing dryness, itchiness, or dandruff.

“Yes, just like you’d exfoliate your face, your scalp…can benefit from the removal of dead skin cells, dirt, dandruff, oil, and product build-up, giving your roots an ideal environment for hair growth,” writes Victoria Moorhouse at StyleCaster.

Turns out exfoliation is good for your skin no matter where it is on your body – even if it’s covered by a head of thick hair.

According to beauty writer Alisa Hrustic, scalp exfoliation is also a great next step if you’ve been using an anti-dandruff shampoo but not seeing results.

“If moisturizing shampoos aren’t cutting it, try incorporating a scrub a few times a week to aid in removing any buildup on the scalp,” Hrustic writes at Women’s Health.

Like facial scrubs, scalp exfoliants contain natural ingredients like salt or sugar to help you rub away those extra dead skin cells. Citric acid, like lemon juice, can also help to zap dead skin and make it easier to remove from your scalp.

Hrustic even offers her own DIY scalp exfoliation recipe – a combination of sugar or sea salt with a moisturizing oil like coconut – for readers to try.

4. Make a Mask

When it comes to ditching that itch, managing moisture is key.

“As with the skin on any other part of the body, a dry, tight feeling can be due to a lack of moisture and oils, both in your diet and applied topically,” trichologist Sara Allison told Cosmopolitan.

Allison’s advice is certainly the general rule when it comes to maintaining a healthy scalp – but scalp health can also get thrown out of whack if you’re facing oil over-production, rather than under-production.

Dandruff, for example, is usually a sign of oil over-production, which is why the products that counteract dandruff buildup are often extremely drying.

Buildup on your scalp may actually be preventing your scalp’s natural oils from doing their job to keep your scalp and hair healthy, balanced, and well-moisturized.

Combine this effect with drying anti-dandruff shampoos, and you could wind up inadvertently adding to your itch factor.

“Oil can really help combat dry scalp conditions,” dermatologist Valerie Goldburt told Women’s Health. “This is true for any cause of dry scalp. I’ve actually recommended baby oil, but you can also use olive oil or coconut oil.”

Now’s the time to stock up on your favorite hair mask for instant relief.

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5. Take It Easy

While you’re combating an itchy scalp, take a step back from chemical treatments, hair dyes, and styling products until you have a sense of how they’ll affect your tender noggin.

Dermatologist Michael Lin suggests avoiding these treatments because they can dry scalp out or irritate existing conditions.

“Sensitivity to ingredients in hair care products or hair dyes, especially paraphenylenediamine, can cause a red, itchy, scaly scalp,” explains Lin at Refinery29.

“Washing too often with shampoos that contain harsh chemicals like sulfates or using too many styling products also may irritate your scalp, causing dandruff.”

Worried about sulfate shampoo but not sure if making the switch is worth the hassle? The extra itch and irritation caused by these chemical lather-makers might make it worth your while.

“[If] you know that you’re sensitive to sulfates, you should definitely opt for a sulfate-free formula to prevent any scalp irritation,” scalp expert Anabel Kingsley told Women’s Health.

Just beware – sulfate-free shampoos can also dry out your scalp even more (see step number four to avoid this dangerous cycle).

There’s no doubt about it: fighting dandruff or an itchy scalp brought on by cold weather can feel like the pits. But it doesn’t have to last forever.

By following our tried-and-true five-step plan to itch-free freedom, you can treat, exfoliate, and moisturize your scalp until it’s as healthy and happy as you are.

As a gentle reminder, don’t be afraid to seek help from your doctor or dermatologist if none of these steps work for you.

It’s okay to get extra oomph from a prescription treatment – not to mention expert medical advice!

Have you ever had to deal with an itchy scalp? Tell us what brought you relief in the comments below:

Images: Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay

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Beauty Myth Busting: What It Really Takes to Make Hair Grow Faster

image03We know, we know. The last thing you want to hear right now is that your natural rate of hair growth is tied to your genes.

 

But it’s time to face the facts.

 

“It’s not actually possible to make hair grow faster,” trichologist – that’s a hair growth expert – Dan Lyons told Get the Gloss.

 

“What is possible, though, is to make sure that it’s growing at its maximum natural rate by caring for it properly and by limiting the breakage and over-processing.”

 

Even if you weren’t dealt the “speed demon” card in your genetic makeup, there’s plenty you can do to encourage healthy, strong hair growth. And that’s way more important than growing hair “quickly.”

 

Let’s get into it:

Change Your Frame of Mind

You’ve heard us say it before, but it bears repeating: healthy hair grows from the inside out.

 

Another way of putting this? Even if you’re taking good care of the hair you already have, if you’re not eating enough protein or taking your vitamins, your hair won’t be as strong as it could be.

 

“It’s really [about] how healthy your body is,” Linda Ellery, an expert in women’s hair restoration, explained to Huffington Post. “You start to notice more shine and elasticity if you start treating your body from within.”

 

Like Ellery implies, when your hair is less prone to split ends, breakage, and thinning, it grows in fuller – and healthier – than hair weakened by bad diets and even worse habits.

 

A hair-healthy diet should include plenty of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins, suggests Natasha Burton at StyleCaster, who lists hair-healthy foods from salmon to sweet potatoes.

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And when you reach for your vitamins, make sure you have plenty of Vitamin B and biotin on hand.

 

“Referred to as vitamin B complex, the eight B vitamins — B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 — play an important role in keeping our bodies running like well-oiled machines,” explains Nicole McDermott at Greatist.

 

“Each has its own specific benefits — from promoting healthy skin and hair to preventing memory loss or migraines,” she adds.

 

As one of the B-complex vitamins, biotin helps with improving the overall strength and health of your hair follicles.

 

“We do know that biotin improves the protein infrastructure of the keratin that makes up hair and nails—though there’s not much data regarding what role biotin plays in hair and nail growth,” dermatologist Rebecca Kazin told Women’s Health.

 

But for women who have biotin deficiencies – or for women prone to breakage – this crucial B-vitamin could help lead to stronger, healthier hair.

Prevent Breakage

Eating a hair-healthy diet chock-full of protein, Vitamin B, and biotin will help new hair grow in stronger and fuller than ever.

 

That means you will notice a change in your hair more quickly than you have in the past – even if you haven’t actually pushed down on an imaginary accelerator.

 

But how do you take care of the hair you already have to promote and encourage growth?

 

Simple! Here are three easy steps for preventing breakage and making your locks healthier than ever:

1.  Regular Trims

When you hear advice to get a trim, it’s not because the trim will “make your hair grow faster.”

 

That’s not actually possible, says Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a practicing trichologist in New York City.

 

image07“Cutting the hair will have no influence on its rate of growth,” Phillips told HuffPo. “That is predetermined genetically.”

 

More importantly, trims will eliminate split ends, which contribute directly to harmful breakage that can even affect your hair follicle.

 

“When you don’t trim regularly, hairs can split right up the shafts and break off, even though the follicles are still in the growth phase,” writes Hannah Morrill at Real Simple. And that will slow the growth of your hair!

 

Remember, length doesn’t do you any good if the length you have is unhealthy – and makes your hair weak.

 

Strong, healthy hair will always look and feel fuller – and even longer – than thin, lifeless locks.

 

So don’t be afraid of your stylist’s scissors! Ask for a trim every 3 to 4 months if you’re trying to grow your hair out – that’s the period at which hair begins to develop split ends.

 

2. Condition, Condition, Condition

According to beauty writer Samantha Freeman, strong hair is also well-moisturized hair.

 

“Shampooing your hair every day can create dry and split ends—but that doesn’t mean you should skip conditioning,” cautions Freeman at Women’s Health. “Without it, your hair can become dried out, prone to frizz and breakage.”

 

Generally, the trick here will have to do with your hair type. Some types of hair – like curly, thick, or natural hair – require more moisture than other types, so you have to adjust your conditioning strategy to fit the bill.

 

To treat curly, thick, or dry hair, “you would need a heavier, thick conditioner to add moisture where it’s lacking,” explains stylist Brian Brady at StyleCaster.

 

Think avocado & shea butter, nourishing sunflower oil, or formulas that contain conditioning vitamins like Omega-3s that will moisturize your hair without creating extra build-up.

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3. Beware Heat

Your hair follicles are incredibly sensitive to heat – and that includes the temperature of your shower.

 

By rinsing quickly with cold water at the end of your shower, suggests Samantha Zabell at Good Housekeeping, you can actually help your follicle recover from the assault of hot water.

 

“While warm water opens a hair’s cuticle to allow shampoo and conditioner to do their job, cold water helps to close the cuticle and seal in moisture from the conditioner — which helps your hair look shiny and healthy,” writes Zabell.

 

And when it comes to drying your hair and using heat tools, the more directly you apply heat, the more you put your hair at risk for breakage.

 

“Think of your daily routine in terms of dos and don’ts,” Ron Williams, the education director of Phyto Universe, explained to Refinery29.

 

“For instance, don’t overuse heat-styling tools such as hot rollers, irons, and blowdryers. Also, don’t use chemical treatments at home or leave hair uncovered when exposed to the sun; both can result in permanent damage.”

 

Even if you’re carefully conditioning your hair – and eating a hair-healthy diet – excessive heat styling and chemical treatments or relaxers can undo all your hard work.

 

Promote Scalp Health

With all this focus on hair health, it’s easy to forget that the scalp needs a little TLC, too.

 

After all, a healthy scalp provides the ideal environment for producing the thick, lustrous locks on your Pinterest board.

 

“Hair follicles need natural oils from the glands that surround them to function,” hair restoration surgeon Robert Dorin explained to Prevention. “If you have a dry, irritated, or unhealthy scalp, the hair your follicles produced will likely be drier and less manageable, too.”

 

If you have a dry itchy scalp, try a dandruff shampoo a few times per week to get back on track, along with an essential oil treatment at night to improve your scalp’s overall health.

 

If you tend to use a lot of hair care products, the name of the game for you will be “exfoliation.” Yup, that’s right – you can, and should, exfoliate your scalp.

 

“An exfoliating scalp mask will thoroughly cleanse the scalp and lift any unwanted build-up and scale,” Cunnane Phillips told Prevention.

 

And since you only need to exfoliate once a month to see a difference, it’s totally worth the extra step in your beauty routine.

 

 

When you’re stuck in a cycle of frustration and despair, it’s not always easy to hear “just wait and see.”

 

Luckily, when it comes to promoting lustrous hair and a well-moisturized scalp, there’s plenty to do.

 

From piling healthy ingredients into your grocery cart to upping your conditioner game, you’ll never feel like you’re just sitting around by following our hair-healthy plan for stunning growth.

 

Do you have a hair treatment that works wonders? Tell us about your secret weapon in the comments below:

 

Images: Pexels, Pexels, Flickr, Pexels

 

 

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The Ingredient Label Low Down: How to Analyze Hair Care Products

image03Reading a shampoo bottle shouldn’t require an advanced degree in chemistry.

 

But if you’ve ever looked at the label on your fave hair care products, you know what a nightmare decoding those ten-syllable ingredients can be.

 

Here’s everything you need to know to stay on top of your game in the pharmacy and online for healthier, happier hair:

Label Lingo 101

Oh, the promises hair care products make on their pretty, patterned bottles! Luxurious curls, shiny hair, zero frizz. Just name the problem, and chances are you’ll find five products clamoring for your attention – and the money in your wallet.

 

When it comes to choosing a hard-working product from the pack of contenders, a little know-how goes a long way.

 

According to FDA regulations, all beauty products in the U.S. must list active ingredients within the first five items of their ingredients list – which mean these items matter the most. All other ingredients listed are likely present in amounts that add up to less than 1% of the total product.

 

For example, in most shampoos, you’ll see water as the primary ingredient, followed by a surfactant like sodium lauryl sulfate or decyl glucoside.

 

Other common ingredients in shampoo include Dimethicone, a silicone oil, and Cetyl Alcohol, a fatty alcohol that actually helps with dry skin.

 

If you’re shelling out big bucks for a fancy conditioner that promises a moisturizing boost from coconut oil, make sure the ingredient is listed closer to the beginning of your label. Otherwise, you might be paying a lot of cash for little reward.

 

Vet Your Shampoo

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Want to make sure your shampoo will get your hair squeaky clean without drying out your scalp?

 

What it really comes down to, according to Refinery29, is understanding what kind of hair you have – and what kinds of products work best for you.

 

If you have fine hair, look for moisturizing cleansers that won’t weigh your hair down, like aloe-vera juice, instead of heavier oils, like argan and coconut.

 

“Aloe-vera juice can help remove dead skin on your scalp [that clogs] your hair follicles,” Derek Yuen told Refinery29. “Healthy hair follicles help promote new hair growth, giving you the fullest head of hair possible.”

 

Rocking your natural curls? You can handle those moisturizing oils – and then some. Because curly hair is often drier than straight hair, avoid chemicals that tend to dry out your scalp, like alcohol-based products or products with silicone.

 

Heads up: there’s a pretty hot debate raging about sulfate-free shampoos right now – an especially important discussion if your hair is naturally dry or chemically treated.

 

“While sulfate-based shampoos do a great job of getting rid of oil and product buildup, they can also potentially dry out your hair, leading to a lack of moisture and sometimes even damage like split ends,” stylist Nunzio Saviano told Women’s Health.

 

Pay attention to your hair, so you can show it a little TLC with a sulfate-free formula if you’re allergic or especially sensitive to the drying effects of the chemical.

 

Green light ingredients: Natural surfactants (that lather and clean), like decyl glucoside and sucrose cocoate.

 

No, thanks: Sodium laureth sulfate, a surfactant that can majorly dry and irritate your skin.

 

Find out more about shampoo ingredients at Women’s Health.

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Decode Your Conditioner

When it comes to conditioner, you need to think about two things: high-quality ingredients and application.

 

By using a conditioner with coconut, palm, or jojoba oils, you help your hair make the most of the natural oils present in your scalp.

 

“Each of these natural oils has constituents of sebum, the oil produced by our bodies,” cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski explained to Everyday Health. “So these oils are compatible with the hair, and they’re reinforcing something that’s already there.”

 

Other common conditioner ingredients include: humectants like panthenol and glycerol, which invite moisture to stick around in your strands, and silicones like dimethicone, which can help ward off damage from heat styling. Fair warning: silicones can weigh down fine hair, so use wisely!

 

If you’re worried about losing moisture in your hair, or if you have a dry, itchy scalp, it can be tempting to over-do it on conditioner.

 

By concentrating on correct, precise application, you can save yourself a headache – and a good chunk of change.

 

“If you’re using a half-dollar size of product, you will definitely be spending a lot of money on shampoo and conditioner and not doing much for your hair,” hair stylist Constantine James told Greatist.

 

Begin by working conditioner into the ends of your hair, then comb upward, toward the roots, to concentrate conditioner where your hair needs it the most – dry, damaged, and aging ends.

 

Green light ingredients: Rich conditioning oils, like coconut, argan, and jojoba oils.

 

No, thanks: Silicone-based ingredients, which can strip your hair of its natural oils.

 

Uncover Your Hair Mask’s True Identity

The job of a hair mask is to funnel moisture directly into your hair and scalp, which makes these products ever-so-slightly more effective than a regular conditioner at heavy-duty moisturizing.

 

“We increase the levels of conditioning ingredients in masks, and these ingredients tend to be on the heavier side, such as butters, oils, and silicones in addition to quats and wax-based conditioners,” cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson told Allure.

 

For those with thin hair, ingredients like silicone and wax-based conditioner can weigh your head down with extra product.

 

As an alternative, ditch the hair mask altogether and focus on using an incredible conditioner after you shampoo.

 

But if you have thick, or naturally curly hair, go for that mask! It really will do more than your standard conditioner, says stylist Renee Pelc.

 

“Daily conditioners just touch the surface of the hair,” Pelc explained to Refinery29. “While your regular hydrator lowers the pH of your hair, which makes your hair appear smooth and shiny, it’s not doing anything to actually restructure the hair.”

 

With added antioxidants – like green tea and grape seed extract – or proteins, like keratin, hair masks can give you the extra oomph you need to repair and revitalize your hair.

 

Most stylists suggest using a hair mask – at most – once a week. That’s because “if you use these ingredients on a daily basis, you will experience buildup much quicker,” cautions Wilson.

 

And nobody needs that!

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Green light ingredients: Rich, fatty oils, proteins, and antioxidants to help your hair stay strong and healthy. In the moisturizing department, look for jojoba, argan, and coconut oils, or shea and avocado butters. Keratin is a protein that will strengthen your hair, and antioxidants are generally listed as vitamins or natural extracts.

 

No, thanks: Silicones or wax, which promote buildup and add to your shampooing burden.

 

 

If you’re delving into the world of hair care products for the first time – and trying to keep harmful ingredients away from your head – the label on the back of your shampoo bottle can be an intimidating place to start.

 

Use our guide as a resource on your journey to complete hair health – and never be afraid to look up ingredients you don’t understand, or discard expensive products that just don’t work for you.

 

As you’re hunting for the right shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask, it’s also important to remember that expensive or luxury products don’t always add up. Sometimes you’re paying for extra stuff – like perfumes or polymers – that are all about the brand, and not about you. Shop smart!

 

Have you mastered the art of decoding hair care products? Tell us which natural ingredients you can’t get enough of in the comments below :

 

Images: Pexels, FlikrPixabay, Flikr

 

 

 

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10 Expert Winter Hair Care Tips to Protect Your Tresses

image02While winter brings the holiday season – and plenty of opportunities for window shopping – we’re also facing snow, wind, and colder, drier temps. What’s a girl to do?

Whether you fear a dry, itchy scalp or frizzy hat head, we’ve got you covered with a ten-step plan to protect your hair all winter long:

 

1. Chill Out, Girl

A piping hot shower feels amazing after you’ve spent an hour outside shoveling your butt off, but raising the temp of your shower can wreak holy havoc on your hair.

“Not only are you washing your hair’s protective oils down the drain, but the heat throws your scalp’s pores into overdrive to keep up with oil production, which can damage the root and lead to additional shedding,” explains Dr. Ryan Welter at Prevention.

Your best bet? Turn the water temperature back a few notches, especially when you’re shampooing.

Super hot water can dry out your skin, too, and nobody likes ashy elbows. Invest in a good body lotion – and a stellar conditioner – once you start to feel a nip in the air this fall. And remember to stay cool.

 

2. Wait It Out

If you’re a ride-or-die shampoo girl who suds up more than a few times a week, it might be time to pump on the breaks.

Nothing works better on hair than your own natural oils, but frequent shampooing can rob your scalp of these precious conditioners.

“Instead of shampooing, try skipping the full wash and just rinse hair in the shower every other time. This will help rebalance the pH level [of your hair] and won’t deplete any existing moisture,” suggests stylist Sarah Rappolt at TeenVogue.

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Does the thought of waiting days until your next shampoo gross you out? Try a dry shampoo to keep your locks squeaky clean between washes.

And if an itchy scalp makes waiting murder, switch to a dandruff shampoo or tea tree oil treatment to help kick the urge to scratch.

 

3. Cozy Up with Conditioner

This wouldn’t be a Hairfinity post if we didn’t tell you how important it is to treat your locks with a little TLC with the three Cs of winter hair care: condition, condition, condition.

“Using a deep conditioning treatment adds moisture back into hair, which helps it to become stronger, healthier, and shinier,” stylist Rita Hazan explained to InStyle, especially if your hair is color-treated.

Need a break in your budget? Leave your regular conditioner on for a few minutes while you sing a tune for an extra hydrating boost.

Alternatively, invest in a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask for a luxe treat once a week.

 

4. Learn to Love Oil

When it comes to beating back the dry scalp winter blues, a rich oil treatment for your scalp works wonders. It’s like a hair mask on speed.

“Natural oils help prevent dryness and add shine,” stylist Mara Roszak told Refinery29.

Slather a nutrient-rich oil like coconut, argan, or almond oil on your scalp before hopping in the shower. While you’re doing your thing, let the oil work its magic on a dry, itchy scalp and moisture-zapped strands. Five minutes later, voilà. A new, winter-proof head of hair.

“It’s actually a plus to have oily hair in the winter,” stylist Nunzio Saviano reminds Refinery29 readers. “Your natural oil is the best conditioning treatment.”

Shine, baby, shine.

 

5. Steam Up Your Mirrors

Scalding hot water in the shower isn’t exactly great for your skin or your scalp – but steam is great for both!

Ladies with natural hair, take note, says beauty reporter Cherise Luter.

“If natural hair could talk…it…would say how much it loves steam,” writes Luter at Bustle. “Curly hair eats steam for breakfast. So, treat your hair to a steam therapy every morning by ditching the shower cap.”

On days when you’re not shampooing your hair, spend a little extra time in the shower so your hair can receive all that extra moisture.

 

6. Hug Your Humidifier

Speaking of steam, consider putting a humidifier in your bedroom for the colder months. Not only will the extra moisture help relieve congestion and nix your snoring habit, but it’ll also work wonders for your skin and hair.

“A humidifier will help to keep more moisture in the air during those harsh winter months, which in turn will help keep our hair from drying out too fast,” explain the editors of Essence.

We know how easy it is for girls who’ve gone natural to lose moisture between conditioning treatments.

You’ll sleep that much easier with a humidifier – and wake up with healthier hair, too!

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7. Break Out the Scissors

Stop dreading your appointment at the salon and start rejoicing when you hit that once-every-six-weeks benchmark, stylist Ron Lewis told Marie Claire.

Without regular trims, you’ll be looking at split-end city – and damaged hair spells major trouble.

“The longer split ends are allowed to remain, the worse they can become, gradually working their way up the hair shaft until damage becomes extreme,” warn the experts at L’Oreal Paris.

Once your hair splits, there’s really no way to fix it. Split end treatments are temporary fixes at best, so buck up and make an appointment, already – or turn your own pair of shears on the struggling strand, so it can get back on track.

 

8. Stop Static in Its Tracks

All winter long, we’re constantly pulling hats, scarves, sweaters, and giant puffer coats off and on, creating an extra crackle in the air.

“When temperatures dip, your hair picks up an electrical charge from the dry air, causing it to stand up,” trichologist Philip Kingsley told Cosmopolitan.

All this electricity can actually throw off the pH balance of your hair, not to mention making it extra dry and frizzy. Sounds like a recipe for a bad hair day in our book.

If you struggle with static, upgrade your old brush for one with carbon-fiber bristles, or switch to a silk pillowcase to calm down those ions and restore moisture.

 

9. Swap Synthetic Fibers for Natural Ones

10350900333_2a7ca87661_oIf your grandma still knits you caps out of itchy wool, it might be time to finally write her a thank you note. (Who are we kidding? Call your grandmother. She knit you a hat.)

According to hairstylist Ted Gibson, a loose wool cap “is best to avoid flat, static-y hair.” (And we all know what static can do.)

Otherwise, look for hats “made from materials like cotton or cashmere [to] help avoid static cling,” suggests expert Kien Hoang at Huffington Post, since “ones made of synthetic materials will make it worse.”

Whatever hat you pick, make sure it’s cute enough to justify minor bouts of hat head.

 

 

 

10. Eat Your Vitamins

You know how we feel about treating dry, itchy hair from the inside out, so this tip should come as no surprise!

When it comes to a well-nourished head of hair, your diet makes all the difference, says nutritionist Jo Lewin.

Think protein, iron, and lots of vitamins A, C, and E for healthy strands – along with “good” fats like omega-3s for extra shine.

“At the grocery store, fill up a cart with foods full of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, olive oil, flax, sardines, and avocados,” writes Sophia Breene at Greatist.

Work that grocery cart, and you’ll have stronger, well-conditioned locks before it’s time to make a new set of resolutions.

Winter might be coming, but there’s no need to run for the hills. Plan ahead, give your locks a little extra loving, and dial back on heat styling and scalding showers to make your skin – and your tresses – hydrated and happy.

 

What’s your winter hair survival plan? Tell us about your moisturizing master plan in the comments below :

 

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Behind the Scenes with Biotin

Portrait of young beautiful woman with extra long glossy hair

Sometimes the search for healthy hair products can lead down an internet rabbit hole – how do you separate expert research from an internet advertorial?

At Hairfinity, we’re dedicated to keeping you informed of all the ingredients in our products, so you know what you’re using – and why it works.

Today we’re giving you a no-nonsense, behind-the-scenes glimpse of what makes Biotin an important part of a healthy hair routine – and how it’ll help you grow longer, stronger locks.

Get to Know Your B-Vitamins

Unless you’re a regular in the supplement aisle, it’s easy to suffer from vitamin overwhelm. There’s lots to remember, especially when it comes to the powerhouse Vitamin B family – there’s 8 of them, after all!

So, what’s the big deal with B-Vitamins?

“They…play important roles in different aspects of cell metabolism, helping you stay energized throughout the day,” Dr. Frank Lipman told lifestyle blog Goop.

“But they are also important in promoting healthy skin and hair, balancing moods and relieving stress, helping mental clarity and focus, supporting cardiovascular health, preventing migraines, and promoting immunity.”

Biotin is a B-complex vitamin – you might also hear it referred to as Vitamin H – and it helps keep your metabolism humming.

Biotin

“From a nutritional perspective, biotin helps convert food into energy, facilitate liver detoxification, and improve the production of proteins that make up hair, skin, and nails,” nutritionist Dana James explained to Women’s Health.

It’s this link between biotin and the production of the protein keratin that has most excited women who have biotin deficiencies, or who suffer from hair loss.

“Biotin deficiency is rare and low levels may result in brittle nails and hair loss,” cautions dermatologist Susan Stuart at Huffington Post.

“However, hair loss and brittle nails may have multiple causes and taking biotin supplements may actually halt this process and even help to reverse it.”

When it comes to growing a healthy head of hair, it’s best to get a holistic view, which is why expert dermatologists often point to diet as a solution.

“Biotin supplements show best results if you’re already deficient,” Dr. Dennis Gross confirms at New York Magazine. “You can naturally find biotin in nuts, eggs, and leafy greens.”

Time to hit the salad bar! Read on for more tips on a healthy, biotin-fueled diet.

 

Fix Your Hair from the Inside-Out

“Chances are the average person is already getting plenty of B vitamins from the food they eat,” dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot confirmed at DailyBurn.

And in order to make sure you’re eating a healthy-hair diet, here are the foods you should be stocking up on:

Eggs

These little powerhouses contain about 25mcgs of biotin each, according to Self. Whip up some scrambled eggs for breakfast to start your day right.

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Almonds

Turns out this trail mix staple can fuel your diet in more ways than one. A quarter cup of these tasty nuts contains more than 14mcgs of biotin, along with plenty Omega-6 fatty acids.

Salmon

This popular “brain food” can help you with what’s on top of your noggin, too. With about 5mcgs of biotin per 3 ounces, salmon is the perfect catch for tonight’s dinner.

Avocado

Never feel bad about your guacamole habit again! A single avocado contains about 6mcgs of hair-healthy biotin.

By incorporating these nutrient-rich foods in your diet, you’ll be one step closer to longer, stronger, healthier hair.

Give Biotin a Helping Hand

While biotin is crucial for hair and nail strength, there are other vitamins and minerals you can focus on to reach peak hair health, too.

Here are some of the most crucial vitamins and nutrients you need to give your hair, skin, and nails some oomph:

Iron

“People who have problems with hair loss or hair growth tend to be iron deficient – especially women,” dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani explained to U.S. News & World Report.

If this problem sounds familiar, then experts suggest you spend some quality time with your local butcher. A single 3-ounce serving of beef has a whopping 5 milligrams of iron – about half of your recommended daily need.

If you’re a vegetarian, then keep an eye out for leafy greens with high iron content, like spinach, beans, and tofu, suggests Audrey Bruno at Self.

Protein

Hair feeling lackluster?

“Pump up the protein,” dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner suggested to U.S. News & World Report. “Include a small dose at each meal and with each snack, and you’ll keep your hair follicles strong.”

Think handfuls of nuts, lean red meats, eggs, chicken, and pork.

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Zinc

This super powerful mineral “promotes cell reproduction, tissue growth, and repair,” reports Tina Benitez-Eves at Men’s Health.

So if you’re losing strands or experiencing dry, itchy scalp, fill your shopping cart with shellfish, poultry, eggs, and milk.

Omega-3s

America’s obsession with “healthy fats” has probably put this term on your radar.

Omega-3 fatty acids “contribute to brain health and may help reduce inflammation,” writes Amanda MacMillan at Health.

They also happen to keep your scalp from getting too dry, which helps your hair stay full and shiny.

For a diet rich in omega-3s, stock up on tuna fish, nuts, and flax seed.

What’s Up with Keratin Treatments?

At Hairfinity, we think it’s important to treat the hair from the inside-out by focusing on diet and, if necessary, vitamin supplements.

Still, we understand that women who struggle with hair loss or lackluster locks are looking for any solution out there.

And while there are plenty of safe external treatments that will give your hair the nutrients it needs to grow thicker, fuller, and longer, keratin treatments should be approached with caution.

Even though biotin helps to produce keratin naturally in your body, applying keratin chemically to your hair might pose significant risks to your hair and scalp.

According to a story reported in Harper’s Bazaar, some of these treatments use dangerous chemicals, like formaldehyde and methylene glycol, both carcinogens.

Plus, the treatment often requires high heat, which can damage already-fragile hair.

“Subjecting a fine or heavily highlighted head of hair to a 450 degree flat iron…may not leave your hair feeling as wonderful as these treatments tend to claim,” celebrity hair stylist David Babaii told Harper’s.

Instead, suggests beauty writer Nicole Catanese, try boosting the production of keratin through your diet.

“[Load] up on ample protein…with foods such as eggs, poultry, and Greek yogurt, as well as iron, which is found in chia seeds and leafy greens like spinach,” Catanese writes.

The potential risks of keratin treatments serve as a helpful reminder: just because something is naturally made inside your body, doesn’t mean it works as well outside your body. That’s why diet is king!

Take It Easy

If you’ve already fallen in love with biotin, a word of caution.

It’s easy to take too much – and wind up with symptoms like high blood sugar, skin rashes, or low insulin, according to Huffington Post.

The smarter move?

Chat with your doc about your hair health, especially if you plan on supplementing with biotin.

“Many women with thinning hair have low levels of biotin,” nutritionist Gina Keatley told Self.

“But this isn’t the only potential cause of thinning hair, and biotin shouldn’t be a go-to remedy unless blood testing reveals that you have low levels of the vitamin,” she adds.

Until then, use our handy primer to maximize your grocery cart for shinier, healthier hair.

With so many DIY treatments and healthy-hair supplements floating around on the web, it’s smart to know more about the vitamins you’re taking – and how to amp up your diet for more desirable locks.

By incorporating more vitamin B-complex into your diet, along with the minerals and nutrients that help make your skin, nails, and hair super strong and healthy, you’ll be on the path to thicker, more gorgeous hair in no time.

Do you supplement with biotin? Tell us about your success with Vitamin B in the comments below :

 

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My Hair Won’t Stop Breaking… Now What?

hairbrushWe’ve all heard that terrible sound. You’re brushing your hair like nobody’s business, then a tug, a pull, and snap.

Uh-oh. Sounds like you’re in need of some hair repair to strengthen your strands and prevent breakage, fly-aways, and other unsightly disasters.

You’d be surprised at what you can do for stronger hair – everything from changing your diet to extra-careful styling can make the difference between luscious locks and flyaway frizz.

Here are our best tips for hair triage – follow along so you never have to worry about weak, brittle strands messing up your good hair day ever again:

Strong Hair Dos

1. Do: Eat a Healthy-Hair Diet

It’s what’s inside that counts – literally.

Changing your diet to include hair-healthy fruits, veggies, and nuts can make the difference between flawless hair that’s stronger than ever – and hair that just keeps breaking.

“Vitamin C is essential to building collagen in our bodies,” nutritionist Keri Gans, RDN told Refinery29.

“And collagen, which is a connective tissue that gives structure, is important for hair strength and growth.”

Without collagen, you could be looking at frizz, split ends, and snapped strands.

According to nutritionist Lisa Drayer, protein can help, too.

“Without enough protein, the texture of your hair can change,” Drayer explained to Refinery29. “It can result in hair that’s dull, dry, thin, and brittle.”

So the next time you’re in the grocery store, remember to nab some fruits high in Vitamin C, like strawberries, cherries, and oranges, and plenty of lean protein, for stronger hair.

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2. Do: Become a Moisturizing Maven

Healthy fats and oils aren’t just good for your skin, says Hallie Levine Sklar at Health.

The fatty acids and antioxidants found in Omega-3s also make incredible moisturizing treatments for malnourished hair.

Thankfully, the beauty industry’s starting to catch on. If your hair’s in need of a pick-me-up, try out a hair oil made from coconut, avocado, or argan oils to restore moisture to your hair and scalp.

“Hair oils are a favorite of beauty experts everywhere, and for good reason,” writes Barbara Gonzalez at Cosmopolitan.

“They’re full of essential fatty acids and they’re lubricating, which means they’re great for healing split ends, sealing in moisture, and detangling.”

Try Hairfinity Nourishing Botanical Oil for the ultimate experience..

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3. Do: Embrace Spa Day

Too often we think of special treatments – like a good hair mask – as a treat rather than a necessity.

And if you have weak, brittle strands, than you need to treat yourself more often! To start, hop in the shower before applying your mask, says celebrity stylist Chuck Amos.

“Washing your hair rids [it] of unwanted dirt and oils the from scalp and shaft,” Amos explains at Refinery29.

“When you deep condition, you restore the moisture and essential oils back to your hair after the cleansing process.”

Most stylists recommend using a hair mask about once a week, and suggest looking for ingredients like restorative fatty acids and lipids (like those found in avocado and olive oil).

Life’s about to get way more relaxing, my friend.

4. Do: Call Your Stylist

Scheduling a regular trim is a surefire way to keep hair strong, happy, and healthy – so don’t be afraid of those shears.

We know, we know – you’re probably trying to grow your hair out, not go shorter. Don’t worry, says stylist Cynthia Alvarez, a trim will help you get where you need to go even faster.

“Removing split ends is the only way to prevent further damage on other parts of the same hair shaft where split ends are present,” Alvarez told Cosmopolitan.

“Allowing a professional stylist to trim your hair every six weeks will help to keep it in optimal shape and decrease breakage.”

Embrace your turn in the salon chair for happier, healthier hair.

Strong Hair Don’ts

1. Don’t: Style When Wet

If you’re trying to do more than comb your hair when you step out of the shower, you’re headed straight for splitsville.

“Hair is weakest when it’s wet, and wet hair is more prone to tangling,” explains Anna Borges at Women’s Health. “To prevent shower-induced snarls, give your hair a brush before hopping in.”

Alternatively, you could invest in a brush that’s designed to maneuver through the tangles and knots of wet hair.

But you’re probably better off just using a wide-tooth comb to prevent breakage – or taking Borges’s sound advice, especially if you have fine hair.

The truth is, already-weak strands really can’t stand up to constant shampooing or specific kinds of styling, says stylist Gino Giumarello at StyleCaster.

If you have fine hair, Giumarello also recommends avoiding “pulling hair back…or up, styling with heat, and teasing hair.”

Sorry, ladies. Time to give up that ponytail in the name of healthier hair.

2. Don’t: Dial Up the Heat

We love the toasty-warm feeling of drying our hair as much as anyone, but styling your hair by jacking up the heat could cause more harm than good.

Heat from hair dryers or styling tools can strip your hair of moisture and make your hair more susceptible to breaking.

“Blow drying causes a ‘flash drying’ effect that not only removes the surface moisture but also removes water that is bound to the hair,” explains Shannon Roamanowski at Self.

“The effect of this flash drying is that the cuticles become dry, rigid and brittle. When the hair flexes, the pressure causes the cuticles to crack.”

Ouch! Thankfully, there are good work-arounds, but they require time you might not always be willing to put in if you’re running out the door to work.

“In order to prevent heat damage and breakage, I recommend letting hair air dry until it’s almost completely dry before using a blow dryer to finish a look,” stylist Kim Kimble told StyleCaster.

Time to hang up your blow dryers and give your hair a break!

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3. Don’t: Over-Wash Your Hair

This can be a tough one, especially if your hair starts to feel overly oily – or dry and itchy – between washes.

“Unless your hair is super oily, washing it every day can make it very dry and cause it to break easily,” celebrity stylist Ursula Stephen confirmed at Cosmopolitan. (She styles Rihanna’s hair, so pay attention!)

Instead, you’re better off shampooing a few times a week and using dry shampoo in between washes to cleanse your scalp of dirt, oil, and product build-up.

“The natural oils from your scalp are fantastic for your hair,” Drybar founder Alli Webb told StyleCaster.

We’re not saying you have to hop on the “no ‘poo” bandwagon, but waiting between washes can help restore sheen and luster to your locks. Right on.

4. Don’t: Skip Appointments with Your Stylist

If your hair’s struggling, a routine can help it get back on track, especially if you use chemical straighteners or relaxers, says celebrity hairstylist David Lopez.

“If you get a relaxer too often, you’ll definitely suffer from severe hair dehydration and end up with brittle strands that break easily,” Lopez told Cosmopolitan.

“But if you wait too long in between services, you run the risk of having the relaxed hair break away from your new growth.”

It’s better to stay on top of your calendar and plan ahead. Work with your stylist – who knows all there is to know about building a healthy head of hair – for a stronger coif.

While there’s plenty you can do – or not do – for strong, healthy hair, the best piece of advice we’ve heard?

Just be yourself.

“The ultimate tip to avoiding breakage is to simply learn to accept your hair in its natural state. Changing your hair by constantly dyeing, curling, or straightening leads to damage,” stylist Carlos Flores told StyleCaster.

A man after our own hearts!

Whether you decide to put your hair in the trusty hands of your own stylist, up the amount of omega-3s in your diet, or treat yourself to a restorative hair mask, stronger hair is within sight.

What are your strategies for avoiding broken strands? Tell us what works for you in the comments below :

 

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How to Get Thicker, Fuller Hair: A Data-Backed Answer

image03Whatever your challenges with thinning – or just plain thin – hair, it’s easy to find yourself in a cycle of dead-end products boasting quick relief, few results, and endless frustration.

No more.

There are steps you can take to grow a thick, full mane you can be proud of.

Here are five simple, scientist-approved ways to improve your hair health this year:

1. Change What You Eat

If you want thicker hair, there are styling tricks and then there are foolproof ways to change your body from the inside-out.

To make strong, healthy strands of hair, your body needs plenty of protein, while Omega-3 fatty acids will help you produce nourishing oils for your scalp.

“All basic nutrients contribute to keeping us whole and healthy, but protein provides the building blocks that allow us to repair, replace, or grow bones, skin, muscles, and hair,” explains nutritionist and health expert Joy Bauer at her website. (You’ve probably seen Bauer dispensing must-follow advice on NBC’s Today Show!)

“People who don’t get enough protein in their diets, such as those with anorexia nervosa or who follow any extreme weight-loss diet, will slow the rate of new hair growth,” she adds.

While some hair loss is genetic, more likely thinning strands are brought on by stress, medication, or – let’s face it – just getting older.

“In both men and women, levels of androgens [a hormone related to testosterone and hair growth] decrease after about age 40, which leads to thinner, slower-growing, less luxurious hair as we get older,” writes Bauer.  

Eating a hair-healthy diet can make a big difference as you face these hormonal changes, especially if you’ve recently switched to a vegetarian lifestyle or feel sideways with stress.

Look for dietary staples like chicken, turkey, and other forms of lean protein to help your body build keratin, an important protein for hair growth. Gone green? Think eggs, lentils, legumes, and tofu.

Even if you are getting enough protein, be aware of your mineral intake, too, suggests dermatologist David Leffell.

“Because both zinc and iron are key to cell production in hair follicles, a deficiency in either nutrient could also cause hair to thin or even fall out,” Leffell told Self Magazine.

Hunt down fortified cereals, lean beef, and shellfish – like oysters – for a diet rich in iron and zinc. Veggies like broccoli and spinach, along with lentils and beans, are also important sources of iron.

Finally, stock up on fish, walnuts, and flaxseed – all foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that will give your hair sheen and volume by fostering a healthy scalp.

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2. Shower Smarter

Tired of all that hair circling the drain? Use your time in the shower to work on cleaning your scalp instead of nailing your best Adele impression. (Girl, we know you can get it.)

In fact, scaling back the number of times you shampoo per week could help you grow healthier, well-hydrated – and, yes, thicker – hair, says beauty writer Jessica Prince Erlich.

“Overwashing can dry out your hair, so the less you shampoo, the more hydrated it will be and the longer it will grow without breaking,” Erlich writes at Harper’s Bazaar.

“When you do shampoo, consider a sulfate-free formula; they often contain less harsh detergents, or none at all, and therefore help preserve your hair’s natural oils,” she adds.

Dermatologist Nicole Rogers, however, urges consumers to be wary about the marketing claims made by companies with sulfate-free shampoos.

“There is no scientific evidence that the ‘sulfate-free’ component makes shampoo gentler than other shampoos that contain sulfates,” Rogers told the American Academy of Dermatology.

While sulfates are known irritants for people with sensitive skin, natural or relaxed hair, and eczema, there’s no guarantee that sulfate-free shampoos will help a finicky scalp.

Your best bet is to closely examine the ingredients label on your shampoo and avoid known irritants or allergens.

As ladies with sensitive skin know, this is usually easier said than done!

Use resources like the product ratings database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to research product ingredients and find the best fit for you.

3. Get A Haircut

It’s easy to feel ashamed or uncertain if you’re experiencing hair loss – but don’t let thinning hair scare you away from the salon chair.

“Although it seems counterintuitive, trimming your hair while growing it out will actually encourage hair growth by getting rid of any damaged, broken, or split ends,” writes Ashley Okwuosa at Women’s Health.

Even healthy hair will start to split after about 3 to 4 months after your last cut, and split ends make the structure of your hair weak.

“The ends, which have been styled and colored the most (since the farther a strand is from its root, the older it is), are vulnerable to splitting,” explains Hannah Morrill at Real Simple.

“When you don’t trim regularly, hairs can split right up the shafts and break off, even though the follicles are still in the growth phase,” she adds.

That’s not exactly an ideal environment for the thicker, fuller hair you’re probably imagining!

While it might be painful initially, it’s worth it to sit in that stylist’s chair and get a trim – your hair will thank you.

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4. Cool It

Damage from styling tools is a one-way ticket to splitsville – not to mention duller, drier, flatter hair.

Limiting heat styling protects your hair cuticles, which are crucial for growing thick, healthy hair, says Dr. Alan Baumann, a physician and hair transplant surgeon.

“Once the cuticle is damaged, the moisture balance is disrupted and your hair is more prone to breakage,” Bauman told Prevention.

Lowering the heat on your hair dryer – or letting your hair air dry before using heat – will make a huge difference and protect your delicate strands.

Just be careful when you’re air drying your hair, cautions health and beauty writer Nina Elias.

Wet hair actually swells and “the longer the swelling goes on…the more pressure it puts on the delicate proteins keeping hair intact, which can lead to more damage,” she explains at Prevention.

Your best bet is to let your hair dry most of the way before turning on a hair dryer, Elias suggests. Just remember to keep that heat setting on “low.”

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5. Drink More Water

Not to sound like your mom or your overbearing auntie, but you need to start drinking more H2O – especially if you want to grow thicker locks.

That’s because the water you drink helps hydrate your entire body – and makes a huge impact on the moisture levels in your skin and hair, says stylist Jeanie Syfu.

“It’s the oldest trick in the book, and truly the top trick to getting your hair to look its best. When you don’t drink enough water, your hair and skin dry out, which can also slow down the process of new hair growth,” Syfu told Self.

Time to break out that water bottle and get drinking – but it might take more water than you’re expecting.

“Because your body will take care of your vital organs and tissues first, with limited water intake, your hair can get dehydrated far sooner than the rest of your body,” nutritionist Kimberly Snyder explained to Fitness.

“Water also helps flush toxins from the body that can hinder your hair from growing in healthily,” she added.

More water and fewer toxins? Your skin – and hair – will look amazing.

A few simple changes to your everyday routine – from your diet to the products you use in your shower – can make a remarkable difference in the way your hair looks and feels.

So if thin, limp strands have got you down, then it’s time to act – and make changes from the inside-out.

Do you have thin hair? Tell us about the changes you’ve made in your routine that helped breathe life into your locks :

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The Science of Shine: What It Takes to Get Lustrous Locks

9427989513_0e3e7f7026_oPerfect hair – you know it’s out there. But how on earth can you turn your dry, frizzled mane into shiny, lustrous locks?

With a little know-how and a lot of TLC, you can strengthen, repair, and rejuvenate your hair from inside-out – and we can help.

Here’s everything you need to know to get mega-watt style this winter:

Take Your Vitamins

Turns out unlocking a healthy sheen involves more than just caring for the hair on your head – you have to think big. Like your whole body big.

According to dermatologist Dr. Melissa Piliang, healthy hair and nails come from taking your vitamins – and eating right. (Yes, even if you’re on a diet.)

“We tend to restrict carbohydrates or fats for weight lost or replace them with juices, but vitamins [from whole foods] contain important nutrients like biotin, zinc, and B-complex that help to enhance the health of our hair,” Dr. Piliang told Huffington Post.

You can get plenty of B6 vitamins just by re-thinking how you eat – a good strategy to try before turning to supplements for extra help.

“Biotin, niacin, and cobalamin are among the most popular B-complex vitamins that help restore shine and thickness to strands,” reports HuffPo’s beauty editor Dana Oliver.

“Load up on whole grains, eggs, avocados and legumes, as they are some of the best food sources for B-complex vitamins,” she adds.

And if it’s zinc you’re after, put some red meat in your grocery cart and fire up the grass-fed steaks. (Don’t mind if we do.)

Another ingredient to look out for? L-cystein.

“L-cysteine, found in egg yolks, optimizes the production of keratin, a protein critical for growth,” explain the editors of InStyle.

If you need more help organizing your shopping list by what’ll make your hair feel stronger – and shinier – than ever, check out this handy list from Health for more nutrient-rich foods.

And, if all else fails, try this tip straight from Michelle Obama’s hairstylist, Johnny Wright: “I have my clients break open Vitamin E capsules and rub the gel directly on the hairline,” he told InStyle.

This souped-up antioxidant treatment restores shine and nutrients to your hair instantly. You’ll be rocking that produce aisle like the model in a shampoo commercial before you know it.

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Caring Means Repairing

Most hair damage comes from dye jobs and blow-outs – all those chemical treatments mixed with high heat wreak havoc on your head, making your hair look drab and dull.

“Your hair will be much better off if you start blow-drying when it isn’t dripping wet,” dermatologist Ranella Hirsch told Allure.

Styling wet hair can make delicate strands more prone to snapping, while constantly updating your dye job can totally deflate your look.

If you’ve gone a little overboard with styling lately, no worries – there’s still time to course correct.

Get your shine back by giving your hair a bit of a boost with a new shampoo, says stylist Oscar Blandi.

“Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of its essential oils,” Blandi told Elle, and hair with plenty of essential oils is – you guessed it – happy, shiny hair.

Hair oil can also help restore a sheen that’ll make ‘em turn heads, smoothing frizz and putting a spotlight on your locks.

“Oils of all kinds infuse your hair with instant moisture, prevent and conceal split ends, and improve the strength and smoothness of your strands over time,” explains Hannah Hickok at Redbook.

Think rich, fatty oils like avocado, coconut, and jojoba for major wattage. Read up on this trend in Self and find the oil that works best for your hair!

Hello Hydration

According to celebrity stylist John Corbett, shiny hair is well-hydrated hair.

“When the hair is healthy, the cuticle stays closed, which means less frizz and your color looks better because light reflects off your hair,” Corbett told The Today Show. “Masks can help repair what styling and the environment takes out.”

A deep conditioning treatment from an oil-based hair mask will leave your hair hydrated, smooth, and oh-so-shiny.

If you want to conquer an easy DIY project in your kitchen, check out Elle’s hair mask solution (that also – oddly – sounds delicious).

Combine avocado, coconut milk, honey, and lemon oil into a paste and coat your hair to restore mega-moisture to your locks.

“The omegas in both avocado and coconut milk moisturize and repair summer-damaged hair, adding shine in the process,” Victoria Dawson Hoff explained to her readers.

“Maple syrup (or honey) also conditions and adds shine. And while it’s optional, we gave our formula a superfood boost with lemon oil, which is particularly helpful in combatting both thirsty locks and a dry scalp.”

Sounds like a recipe for success – and super shiny hair.

Searching for a Little Clarity

According to Stylecaster’s beauty editor Rachel Krause, clarifying shampoo is like a reset button for your hair – so it should be used sparingly and wisely.

“All shampoos will cleanse your hair of the usual oil and residue, but a targeted clarifying formula will cut through more stubborn gunk, like the kind you get when you use styling products all the time,” writes Krause.

Because too much clarifying shampoo can put a damper on your shine, save it for when your hair needs a little extra TLC.

“If you’re a product fiend, use a ton of dry shampoo, or spend time in chlorinated pools, once a week will do the trick, but if you have hair that’s on the drier side or are a slave to your color, limit it to once a month, since clarifying formulas can strip the hair,” cautions Krause.

We know, we know. No one likes adding another treatment to their beauty routine.

But clarifying shampoo could make the difference between dull locks drowning in dirt and product – and shiny hair that’s totally gorge.

Beautiful african woman drying her hair with a towel in the mirror

Lock in Your Hard Work

Now that you’ve repaired and moisturized your way to a healthier sheen, it’s time to lock in all that hard work with a water-soluble, silica-based serum.

“[Silicone] can actually make hair that is dry and damaged look and feel like it’s healthy by filling in the porosity—what looks like frizz and split ends—and driving and locking in conditioner,” celebrity hairstylist Bridget Brager told Coveteur.

The only drawback? If it’s not water-soluble, silica can cause build-up and throw you right back into the cycle of dry, damaged hair you’re trying to fight your way out of.

“Look for products containing Cyclomethicone,” suggests Brager. “This is the most commonly used silicone in hair care products and it does everything Silicone promises to do, but won’t leave buildup on the hair.”

Serums that include nutrient-rich emollients – think argan and coconut oil – might also be a good solution for that finishing touch.

According to Hannah Hickok, you can even pass on chemical-based serums altogether and find all the ingredients you need right in your home.

“Skip products with ingredient labels you can’t pronounce and make [beauty blogger Alexis Wolfer’s] cuticle-strengthening, all-natural shine serum,” Hickok suggests at Redbook.

“Not only does the simple concoction use stuff you probably already have in your kitchen—meaning it’s safe and chemical-free—it’s also cheaper than any product you’d buy in the beauty aisle,” she adds.

If dry, dull hair is getting you down, it’s time to step up your game. By eating nutrient-rich foods chock-full of B-vitamins and antioxidants, you’ll be one step closer to hair greatness.

The rest all comes with planning – and having the right products for your hair. Whether you’re a styling junkie or a DIY mama, there’s plenty you can do to restore moisture and lock in that healthy glow.

Do you have a go-to hair mask that helps restore shine? Tell us what works for you in the comments below :

 

Image credits:  Flikr, Pixabay, Flikr

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