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‘Hair Care’ Posts

7 Hacks for Taming Frizzy Hair Once and For All

While we look forward to all things summer, there’s one thing we never, ever miss: frizz-inducing humidity. There’s not much you can do to fight the elements, but there are plenty of tricks for taming frizzy hair once and for all.

We rounded up 7 of our fave hacks for getting your hair to behave – even when the temperatures outside start rising:

1. Space Out Your Shampoos

Frizz can happen to anyone – especially if you have dry or damaged hair.

“When hair is damaged or dry, the outer layer of hair (the cuticle) lifts, which allows moisture to pass through and swell your hair strands,” explains Lindsey Metrus, BuzzFeed’s style reporter.

If you’re dealing with hair that’s extra-sensitive to moisture, do your best to space out your shampoo sessions. About every two to three days works best, says Elisa Hills, co-creator of BLNDN, a hair care line for blondes.

“Any more, and you risk stripping your hair of its natural, protective oils that keep it shiny and healthy,” Hills told Greatist.

With more natural oils on your scalp, your hair should have an easier time retaining moisture and strength – especially when that dreaded humidity hits.

And, if you haven’t already, consider switching to a sulfate-free shampoo for added frizz-protection. Sulfates are the chemicals that help give your drugstore shampoo all those extra bubbles – but they also strip away moisture.

When it comes to fighting frizz, you want to leave your hair with its natural defense system. Kick sulfates to the curb and strategize your shampoo sesh for a healthier head of hair.

2. Co-Wash with Conditioner

Girls rocking natural or curly hair know how hard it can be to lock moisture into thirsty strands.

Since curly hair can prevent the scalp’s natural oils from penetrating the entirety of the hair shaft, women with these hair types often suffer from dry, brittle, or broken cuticles. That’s a ripe environment for frizz.

If this sounds familiar, try co-washing your hair with conditioner once or twice a week to give your hair the moisture it needs to be happy.

Thankfully, according to Vogue’s Mackenzie Wagoner, there are a whole lot more options for women who need extra moisture to fight that frizz halo.

“[The] latest generation of hybrid cleansing conditioners has bridged the gap between washing and moisturizing,” writes Wagoner, “offering the gentlest rinse your hair has ever received, while simultaneously smoothing the cuticle and eliminating frizz.”

It’s a great formula: co-washing + more moisture = frizz-free.

3. Multi-Task with a Mask

Even if your hair’s not excessively dry, you can still suffer from an occasional visit from the Frizz Fairy.

To cut down on general frizziness, try using a hair mask or hair oil treatment once a week, says beauty editor Carly Cardellino.

“Doing a special treatment at least once a week, especially in colder months when the air is dry, will help fill any holes in your hair shaft that soak up outside moisture and contribute to frizz,” Cardellino writes at Cosmopolitan.

Bonus? Your hair will be red carpet-level soft and shiny for days and days.

4. Better Blow Dry

Whether you head out the door with a wet head, or spend hours in front of the mirror with a blow dryer, it’s time to rethink your routine.

Everything you do once you step out of the shower can impact how much frizz you’ll have to contend with during the rest of the day, from towel-drying to heat tools.

“Using a bath towel is considered the standard way to dry off the hair after washing, but if done incorrectly, it’s basically the fastest route to breakage and frizz,” explains Rachel Krause at StyleCaster.

Instead, twist hair to squeeze out moisture while you’re still in the shower, then do the same – gently! – with your towel. Anything more intense might damage your hair.

While it feels like letting your hair air dry can save a few extra steps, without a little bit of heat you could be adding to your frizz problem.

According to a recent study reported in Prevention, “While the heat of a dryer can cause more damage than not using one, using a hair-dryer at the right distance and temperature can actually cause less damage than letting hair air-dry.”

Huh?

Apparently all that left-over moisture from your shower can, over time, force your hair’s cuticle to expand – and become more prone to breakage. So while air drying is good for your hair, letting your hair air dry completely is bad.

Once your hair is almost finished air drying, blast it with a little bit of heat. Remember to push the “cool air” button on your hair dryer to avoid frying your strands.

And ladies with curls? If you’re not already using a diffuser to help you tame your mane, it’s time to get on that:

“A diffuser is a blow dryer attachment that minimizes a lot of the frizz that comes when curly hair is naturally air dried,” hairstylist Britt White explained to Good Housekeeping.

“It also gives a boost to the curls that may lay flat because of your hair’s weight and length,” she added.

There you have it: the perfect way to blow dry curls into submission while eliminating frizz.

5. Dial Back Your Heated Tools

By now you know that excessive heat, especially from styling tools like straighteners, flat irons, and blow dryers, can cause major damage.

But did you know what actually happens to your hair?

“Hot tools such as hair dryers and curling irons fry off your hair’s cuticles, the first line of defense against dryness, leaving the cortex exposed,” explains Jill Percia at Women’s Health.

“The parched cortex is left no choice but to soak up moisture from the air to compensate, causing frizz.”

If you want to curl or straighten your hair, just be sure to turn down the heat, says stylist Roxy Brennan.

“The flat iron is most dangerous of all the hot tools in my opinion,” Brennan told Refinery29. “It should always be used on low heat and with little pressure.”

6. Style Smarter

Sometimes you can do everything right, and you’re still fighting frizz when you check your hair in the bathroom mirror.

A restorative hair serum can help fight frizz – and will also offer added protective benefits for your tresses.

“While a leave-in conditioner adds moisture, adding a serum on top can help your hair retain [the conditioner’s] hydrating ingredients,” explains Jessica Cruel at PopSugar.

“This product will also help keep out unwanted moisture that can cause hair strands to swell,” she adds.

On the go? Keep an old mascara wand and a travel-size hairspray in your bag to smooth down fly-aways, suggests Lindsey Metrus at BuzzFeed.

It’s the perfect solution to calm those “frizzy areas” around your ponytail “or those annoying baby hairs around your crown,” Metrus writes.

Travel-size frizz protection? Yes, please.

7. Wrap It Up

Chances are you’re sleeping on cotton-blend sheets. (Hey, we’re not judging.)

But you should know that cotton can wreak havoc on dry hair – making it even drier and more prone to frizz.

“To keep your cotton pillowcase from sucking up all the moisture in your hair, wrap it up at night in a bun, and then tie on a silk scarf, which will retain moisture,” stylist Ursula Stephen suggested at Cosmopolitan.

That’s right – you can beauty sleep your frizz away.

There’s no use fighting the weather, but you can act now to tame frizzy hair into submission. From co-washing to better styling products, embracing a no-frizz beauty routine will help you get sleeker, shinier hair – once and for all.

How do you fight frizz? Tell us your best tips and tricks in the comments below:

Images: Unsplash, Unsplash, Flickr, Unsplash

Homemade Hair Masks to Try Right Now

Nobody’s born with perfect hair. Okay, maybe Béyonce – but even Bey gives her hair a little TLC to keep it looking fine. You deserve the queen bee treatment, too – and quick DIY homemade hair masks are the best thing you can do to moisturize, protect, and lavish love on your hair.

Choosing ingredients from your own kitchen cuts down on expenses, and it’s also a great way to use all-natural solutions for common problems. (Because we all need fewer chemicals in our lives!)

Here are 5 hair masks you need to try right now – plus, a quick primer on how to decode common hair mask ingredients:

1. For Natural Hair

1/2 Sliced Avocado
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Honey

Transitioning away from straightened hair or already rocking that ‘fro? Your hair is probably begging for extra moisture.

We love this great mask recipe from BuzzFeed – it’s chock-full of healthy fats that will deep-condition your locks and boost hair repair if you’re suffering from breakage. Honey, a natural humectant, will help seal in moisture.

Pulse all ingredients together in a blender and apply to damp hair. Cover hair with a shower cap or towel for 30 minutes, then wash with shampoo and conditioner. Use mask once per week for best results.

Via: Buzzfeed

2. To Beat Frizz

2 Tbsp. Yogurt
1 Tbsp. Honey
(Add 1 ripe banana or a ¼ tsp of coconut oil for a moisture boost)

Sure, these ingredients sound like the beginning of a breakfast smoothie recipe, but yogurt will help you gently remove product build-up and seal your hair cuticles, while banana and honey offer an extra shot of moisture and prevent breakage. Switch out the banana for coconut oil if you’re in need of more moisturizing power.

Blend in a small bowl, or use blender if adding banana. Cover hair with a shower cap or towel for 30 minutes, then wash with shampoo and conditioner. Rinse well. Use mask once per week for best results.

Via: Bustle

3. To Combat Oily Strands

1 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Honey
2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil

Yes, women suffering from greasy strands can benefit from a moisturizing mask, too. In fact, too much oil is a great reason to whip one up!

Apple cider vinegar is a perfect natural exfoliant, and can help remove excess dirt, oil, and product build-up. With all that gunk out of the way, moisturizing honey and coconut oil can go to work.

Coconut oil is generally light enough that it shouldn’t send your hair into a greasy nose-dive. If you’re worried, start with a little less than the recipe calls for, and see how your hair reacts. Focus attention away from the roots and toward the shaft and ends of the hair.

Whisk apple cider vinegar, honey, and coconut oil together in a large bowl. Apply to damp hair and cover with a towel or shower cap for 30 minutes. Rinse well, then shampoo your hair as you normally would.

Via: Natural Living Ideas

4. To Zap Dandruff

2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. Lemon juice
(or 15 drops tea tree oil)
2 Tbsp. Water

Combatting dandruff is difficult, to say the least. While your scalp often feels dry and itchy, those white flakes can appear because of oil and product build-up, too.

Olive oil is gentle and protective, so it won’t further irritate your scalp, while the acidity of lemon will serve as a gentle exfoliant. Buh-bye, flakes! If you try this mask once and feel you’re in need of something a little stronger, try switching out lemon for tea tree oil.

Whisk olive oil and lemon (or tea tree oil) together in a large bowl. Apply to damp hair and cover with a towel or shower cap for 30 minutes. Rinse well, then shampoo your hair as you normally would.

Via: Bustle

5. For a Moisture Boost

1 Tbsp. Egg yolk
1 Tbsp. Avocado
¼ Cup Honey

All hair types can benefit from an occasional moisture boost. Plus, who doesn’t want super shiny, soft hair?

Don’t be nervous about this egg yolk – with protein and fatty acids, egg yolks help strengthen and protect hair. Avocado has plenty of rich, fatty acids and Omega-3s, which are great for deep conditioning, while honey locks all that moisture in.

Blend egg yolk, avocado, and honey. Apply to damp hair and cover with a towel or shower cap for 30 minutes. Rinse well, then shampoo your hair as you normally would.

Via: Woman’s Day

Decoding Common Ingredients in DIY Hair Masks

So, you’re on board with natural hair masks you can whip up in the kitchen, but you want to know more about what these ingredients actually do?

We’ve got you covered. Here are 8 of the most common hair mask ingredients you can find in your kitchen – and how they will make your hair shine, shine, shine:

  • Coconut oil replenishes hair’s moisture, repairs breakage, and improves strength and flexibility. Unlike other oils, coconut oil is actually able to penetrate your hair shaft. That means once your hair absorbs the oil, it won’t wash away.
  • Eggs contain so much good stuff, they’re author Janice Cox’s favorite natural ingredient. “The [raw] egg is really the best of all worlds,” Cox – who wrote Natural Beauty At Hometold Woman’s Day. Use the yolk to benefit from hair-softening proteins and fatty acids, and whip up the whites to remove product build-up with powerful enzymes.
  • Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture. Since it’s not a fat – like coconut oil – it’ll add shine to your hair without adding extra oil or weight.
  • Olive oil is chock-full of Omega-3 fatty acids and oleic acids that protect hair from damage and prevent moisture from evaporating from starved strands.
  • Mayonnaise isn’t just for sandwiches. Your hair can benefit from the proteins in its egg yolks and the fatty acids in its oils. According to StyleCraze, mayo can also help smooth and seal cuticles shut, upping your natural defenses against pollution and styling.
  • Avocado, everyone’s fave trend fruit, is much richer than other oils and perfect for delivering Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins directly to moisture-starved strands. Like coconut oil, avocado oil can penetrate the hair shaft to give you moisture where you need it most.
  • Bananas offer multiple benefits, from preventing dandruff or breakage to adding moisture and shine. With plenty of potassium and natural oils, they’ll help bring elasticity back to tired, damaged hair.
  • Yogurt contains natural lactic acids that act as a great cleaning agent and exfoliant. Massage yogurt into your hair, and these acids will help slough away dead skin, dirt, and product build-up. Plus, yogurt contains tons of protein, which is great for encouraging hair growth.

The next time your hair needs a little bit of help to go from blah to Béy, look no further than your kitchen cabinets. Chances are you have everything you need to whip up a hair mask and settle in for a spa day.

Add a mask to your hair routine to maintain moisture in your locks, prevent breakage, and sport shiny, soft hair all month long.

Do you have a favorite DIY hair mask recipe? Tell us your secrets to shiny hair in the comments below:

Images: Unsplash, Unsplash, Pexels, Pexels

8 Reasons Why Your Scalp Health Matters

We spend so much time focusing on our hair. Do we have split ends? Is our curly hair too dry or unruly? Are we shedding too much? While these are important questions, focusing on scalp health might be the key.

“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.”

Here are 8 more reasons your scalp health impacts hair growth – and how you can create a better environment for gorgeous hair.

1. Scalp pH Affects How Your Hair Grows

Every product you use on your hair has the ability to shift the pH balance in your scalp, and it’s your pH balance that provides a healthy environment for new hair growth.

“A substance that is too alkaline will cause the hair cuticle to open [drying out your hair], while a substance that is too acidic will cause the cuticle to contract,” explains beauty editor Taylor Bryant at Refinery29.

Not sure what’s going on up top? According to Bryant, ladies who suffer from dry hair or dandruff most likely have alkaline pH levels, while curly-haired girls tend toward higher levels of acidity.

In truth, most cosmetics companies are pretty good at testing for pH balance before they roll out a new product.

“We’ve known for ages that to prevent hair from feeling dry and looking dull, we have to balance the pH with certain ingredients,” cosmetics chemist Ni’Kita Wilson told Refinery29.

Still, it’s always important to check out the ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner. Make sure you’re using the right product for your hair type.

2. Dry Scalp Can Lead to Breakage

Feeling itchy? Dandruff or winter-dry skin are common causes of flaking, but relieving that itch could create bigger problems for your hair.

“Itchy scalp…may result in hair loss due to scratching-induced hair damage,” dermatologist Dr. Alan Baumann told Prevention. “Once the cuticle is damaged, the hair fiber is prone to breakage.”

Yikes. Time to break out the zinc shampoo!

Major dryness can also be a side effect of poor diet. If you’ve been staying away from avocados and olive oil to try and slim down, you might be accelerating hair loss or damage, says dermatologist Karen Ansel.

“Fat is key for a healthy scalp,” Ansel told Self. “Without enough in your diet, your scalp can become dry and inflamed, leading to hair loss.”

The next time you’re at the grocery store, stock up on salmon, walnuts, or flax oil, so you can recalibrate and nix the itch.

3. Healthy Scalp = Good Elasticity

Good hair elasticity is an indication of the overall health of your hair – if your hair is elastic, it means it has the right amount of both moisture and protein. Your hair is probably soft and strong – perfect for a great hair day.

Maintaining a healthy scalp can help you ensure your hair gets the proper amount of natural oils – and moisture – that it needs. A dry scalp will irritate your follicles, while an overly oily one leads to build-up.

Neither of these conditions will help your hair stay strong.

To check in on the elasticity of your hair, do a quick shower test, suggests Nick Stenson, the artistic director for Matrix.

Once your hair is wet, “begin to slowly stretch the hair,” Stenson advised Bustle. “If it breaks almost immediately, your elasticity is low, but if it stretches to 50 percent of its original length, your hair has high elasticity.”

Taking proper care of your scalp is only bound to improve the elasticity and overall strength of your hair, too.

4. Good Circulation Improves Hair Growth

Who doesn’t love a good scalp massage? Turns out, these heavenly treatments are good for more than just relaxation.

“Blood flow to the hair cells means healthier hair growing out of your scalp,” stylist Triana Francois told Huffington Post.

Scalp massage is especially important for women who suffer from conditions like dandruff or scalp build-up, says trichologist Philip Kingsley.

“Scalp massages aid in the removal of dead skin cells from the scalp – and a flaky scalp is known to worsen hair loss in certain individuals,” Kingsley explained to Huffington Post.

“It can be very beneficial to those who suffer from scalp conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis.”

Not to mention, it’s an extra chance to relax, chill out, and enjoy a moment of self-care.

5. Scalp Build-Up Is Bad for Everybody

Yes, scalp build-up is as gross as it sounds.

A sign of an unhealthy head, this problem occurs when you’re not shampooing often enough, causing oil and product to accumulate and irritate your hair, or when your scalp is too dry and the extra skin cells aren’t being exfoliated away.

This is a terrible environment for hair growth, says dermatologist Doris Day.

“A buildup of product or excessive dandruff on the scalp has been shown to clog hair follicles, and if it’s bad enough, it can be difficult for hair to grow,” Day explained to Prevention.

The solution? Scale back on product use, find a shampooing routine that works for you, and address scalp conditions like dandruff head-on by consulting with your dermatologist.

6. It Deserves Your Protection

In addition to regular build-up, a mistreated scalp can also foster unseemly fungal growth. (Gross.)

“Although no definitive cause has been identified, a yeast (fungus) called malassezia that is in the oil secretion on the skin, seems to be the most likely culprit [of seborrheic dermatitis],” reports Dr. Mona Gohara at Good Housekeeping.

“Some predisposing factors include Parkinson’s, depression, diabetes, a weakened immune system, and obesity,” Gohara added.

Since this condition is exacerbated by extra oil, it’s important to protect your sensitive scalp. Hit the showers after you exercise to remove extra build-up, or take some time to relax if you’re having a rough week at work.

(Remember: scalp massages might be particularly helpful if you’re prone to infection, too.)

7. Flakes Signal Need for a Major Moisture Boost

It might be embarrassing, but if you’re noticing flakes, your scalp is trying to send you a message.

“Hormonal fluctuations, elevated stress, poor nutritional intake, and not cleansing enough all contribute to dandruff, a fungal infection on the skin,” trichologist Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips told Prevention.

If the cause is dandruff-related, an anti-fungal shampoo should calm the urge to scratch. And if you’re suffering from dry skin, a conditioning mask or hot oil treatment should help you feel relief.

“Many women don’t use conditioner on their scalp because they’re afraid to clog pores or weigh down fine hair,” dermatologist Francesca Fusco explained to Allure.

But don’t believe the naysayers, Fusco suggests. You can get away with applying conditioner on top of your head, especially in the winter months. Just like other sensitive skin areas, your scalp sometimes needs a little bit of extra TLC.

8. Inflammation Can Increase Shedding

There are a lot of conflicting messages online about shampooing, and the dry shampoo fad has made it worse – especially if it means you’re avoiding regular showers.

“[Dry shampoo] deposits substances to coat the follicle that can build up,” dermatologist Sonia Batra told The Atlantic.

And if the scalp is irritated and inflamed from build-up, it’ll completely shut down new growth.

“The resulting inflammation can weaken the follicles and increase shedding,” Batra continued. “These products can also cause hair follicles to stick together, so that a hair that would normally shed during brushing may take two or three strands along with it.”

Don’t just rely on dry shampoo to get you through a busy week. Remember to shower regularly, cleanse your scalp to prevent build-up, and keep healthy hair where it belongs: on your head.

Although scalp problems can cause plenty of embarrassment, they’re more common than you might think – so don’t feel bad if one of the issues we’ve covered happens to you.

Talk to your dermatologist so you can identify and treat the (often very treatable) concern before it causes bigger problems, like inflammation or even hair loss.

Most importantly of all, treat your scalp with the TLC it deserves. Everything from hot oil treatments in wintertime to scalp massages will help you feel like a queen – and boost new hair growth, too.

Have you had to switch up hair products to promote a healthier scalp? Tell us your favorite scalp care tips in the comments below:

Images: Unsplash, Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels

The 6 Best Oils for Healthy Hair

Not all oils are created equal, especially when it comes to the best oils for healthy hair.

Whether you suffer from a dry scalp or monster frizz, an oil treatment might be just what you need to prevent breakage and improve your hair’s overall health.

That’s right! Natural and botanical oils can treat just about anything that ails you – even if you have fine or slightly oily hair.

So you can navigate this trend without looking like you never shower, we rounded up the 6 best oils for returning moisture and essential fatty acids to your hair for soft, shiny locks:

1. Sweet Almond Oil

Rich in vitamin E, almond oil is perfect for women who experience regular dryness and even breakage, according to natural hair blog CurlyNikki.com.

“Often times shampooing and frequent manipulation can cause our hair to become dry and break,” writes Michelle Thames at the blog. “Almond oil can help restore the protective oil layer in the hair.”

Chock-full of magnesium, a mineral that helps prevent breakage and encourage new growth, almond oil can also help reduce inflammation and eliminate dandruff.

2. Coconut Oil

A nourishing oil that won’t push oily hair over the brink, coconut oil is one of our favorite go-to treatments for daily wear-and-tear.

“Frizz-prone hair or those hair types susceptible to environmentally-caused damage should seek out coconut oil, which has strengthening and protective qualities,” suggests Megan McIntyre at Refinery29.

With plenty of restorative healthy fats, coconut oil can help you build stronger hair, prevent breakage, and zap frizz from your fro.

Finally, a fat that’s actually good for you!

3. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a great solution if you’re experiencing an itchy or uncomfortable scalp. It’s gentle enough that it won’t cause further inflammation, but rich in moisture, too.

“If you suffer from dandruff, rather than using expensive chemical shampoos, try massaging some olive oil into your scalp,” suggest the brains behind Thrive Market, a natural beauty retailer.

“The natural moisturizing effects of the fatty acids and vitamin E in olive oil will help with the dryness and, over time, reduce or eliminate the frustrating condition.”

Since oils help you retain moisture in your hair, treating dandruff with olive oil will help eliminate flaky build-up and ease your urge to itch.

4. Jojoba Oil

Tired of fighting snarls, knots, and tangles? Use jojoba oil to smooth the way with your detangling comb.

In addition to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, jojoba oil is the closest substance to your own natural sebum on the market. That makes it the perfect oil for coaxing knots to loosen, so you don’t damage your hair the next time you attempt to comb out your ‘fro.

Like all oils, jojoba will deeply moisturize your strands, helping you prevent breakage – and more knots – in the future.

5. Moringa Oil

With plenty of crucial vitamins for improving hair strength – like vitamins A, B, and C – moringa oil can help you bounce back from heat damage or breakage without getting too oily up top.

“Moringa oil adds strength to fragile hair without weighing it down,” explains Kristin Collins Jackson at Bustle.

“Apply a small amount on your styling tool, like a rat tail comb or toothbrush, and gently smooth down the hairs that are giving you trouble.”

Think of it as the perfect serum for managing those pesky fly-aways.

6. Apricot Oil

Don’t just smell like a peach – use the Omega-9 fatty acids and linoleic acid in apricot oil to strengthen hair and help it grow.

According to NaturallyCurly.com, apricot oil also helps you find balance and stave off the effects of humidity.
“It not only seals in the moisture, but it also absorbs small amounts of water from the air’s humidity to help maintain that barrier of hydration inside the strand and scalp,” writes Sabrina Perkins.

Break this out when you want soft, shiny movie star hair for a night out on the town.

Using Botanical Oils for Your Hair: A Quick Primer

Natural and botanical oils are some of the best conditioners for healthy hair – not to mention some of the best vehicles for the essential fatty acids that can strengthen hair and prevent breakage.

But remember: oils are still, well, oily, which means they should be used sparingly – and not on the roots of your hair.

“It’s always best to keep the oil away from where your natural oils come from,” Michael Wilson, a stylist for Bumble and bumble, explained to Refinery29. “So avoid the scalp and roots of your hair and focus on your mid-shaft and ends.”

“Start with less and see how your hair responds [before you add more],” he added. Practical advice.

Still not sure whether botanical oils are for you? Here are some of the most common reasons stylists recommend that their clients use oil on their locks:

  • To combat a dry or itchy scalp. When dandruff starts to build up on the scalp, it prevents your hair and scalp from receiving the natural oils that help keep hair soft and supple. An oil treatment can get your scalp back on track. Use a delicate oil like almond or olive oil to massage away dead skin cells and pour much-needed moisture back into your locks.
  • To strengthen hair prone to breakage. Hair that’s been sapped of moisture is dry, brittle, and ready to snap. Use an oil treatment to soak up moisture and strengthen hair with fatty acids and other vitamins. Oils like moringa and coconut will be especially beneficial.
  • To restore shine and lustre. Few of us take the time out of our busy routines to think about our hair’s future. (Admittedly, this is something we love to do.) But scheduling a regular hair mask with an oil treatment is like taking out an insurance policy on the future health and happiness of your hair. Plus, it’ll look extra shiny and feel super soft thanks to all those healthy fats. Coconut oil is a great all-around treatment.
  • To repair heat damage. Too much heat from styling tools or blow drying spells frizz or breakage. If you have your straightening tools turned up too high, you might even damage the cuticle for good (Remember: anything higher than 350 degrees is too hot!). Take a break from all that heat and grab your nearest oil treatment to restore moisture and repair strands. Look for moringa or apricot oil to help with damage control.
  • To moisturize dry, damaged hair. Whether you’re on-trend and bleached your hair ash-blonde, or use relaxer regularly, your hair is probably hurting. Combat damage with a serious oil treatment. Almond and olive oil will work wonders on dry, damaged hair.

Our hair comes into contact with all sorts of stressors every day. Pollution, heat styling, and other chemical treatments all take a heavy toll, leaving locks lifeless and in need of deep, restorative treatment.

Thank goodness botanical oils – from almond to apricot and everything in between – are the answer to soft, supple, and healthy hair.

Whether you need to bounce back from heat damage, or you just want a fun way to give your hair some extra TLC, find a way to introduce an oil treatment into your beauty routine.

Do you use oil to keep your hair healthy? Tell us which ones you can’t live without in the comments below:

Images: Pexels, Pexels, Pexels, Pexels

Stress and Hair Growth (Hint: They’re Related)

Noticing extra hair in the shower drain? All this shedding could be an indicator that your body’s under stress, and it’s had enough – and it’s affecting your hair growth.

When your body experiences stress, whether hormonal or traumatic, it can respond by sending brand new – and confusing – signals to your follicles.

We’ve got the skinny on how those signals – and all the stress – mess with your head. Plus, we’ll tell you the four things you can change to help your hair recover from a traumatic event more quickly.

Know Your Growth Cycle

As anyone who’s ever waited for a bad haircut to grow out knows, hair growth can take a long time. That’s because each of the hairs on your head is in a completely different phase of its growth cycle.

According to WebMD, “At any given time, a random number of hairs will be in one of three stages of growth and shedding: anagen, catagen, and telogen.”

During the anagen phase, your hair is busy using your protein-rich diet to generate new growth. Once your hair reaches the catagen phase, it “rests” before moving onto the telogen phase, the point in the cycle when your hair sheds.

Many women who experience hair loss are actually going through very short growth, or anagen, phases. That’s why you might notice short, fuzzy hair sprouting in new patches or “mass” shedding after a big life-event.

“When you have these conditions, your body halts hair growth, and then things get restarted and all these hairs that have been halted start to get pushed out at the same time,” explains dermatologist Bethanee Schlosser at Self.

Whether you’ve had surgery or experienced a death in the family, stress-related hair loss goofs up your natural growth cycle. Here’s what happens:

How Stress Freezes Things Up

Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is powerful stuff. It makes our body react as if we’re in a life-or-death situation, so we feel like reaching for fatty foods to keep going, or staying on high alert even if it’s way past our bedtime.

“When cortisol spikes, it tells the body to eat something with a lot of calories—a great survival tactic if you need energy to flee a predator but not if you’re fretting over how to pay bills,” nutritionist Shawn Talbott told Prevention.

And if your cortisol levels are running high due to trauma or other hormone-related issues, it most likely means your estrogen levels are too, low.

Both trauma and hormone-related stress can cause a “dip in hair-growth-promoting hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, and an increase in hair-loss-promoting hormones, such as androgen and testosterone,” explains Priya Rao at Women’s Health.

For some women, this cycle of hormone miscommunication can last for months – often long after the traumatic event happened.

According to The Atlantic, that’s one reason why you most likely noticed an uptick in how many strands of hair you shed once your break-up or job hunt was already in the rearview. The other reason, is, of course, the hair growth cycle itself.

“Because there’s a delay between when a hair stops growing and when it falls out, there’s likewise a delay between a stressful event (which can be physical, like surgery or trauma, or emotional, like a divorce or loss of a job) and when hair loss might occur,” reports Julie Beck.

If you take a look at your calendar from three months ago, Beck says, you’ll most likely be able to pinpoint the event that brought on all that extra unwanted stress.

No matter what kind of battle you’re facing, chronic stress should be managed with heaps of self-care – and regular consults with your fave doc.

Combat Stress-Related Hair Loss

Here are four strategies we recommend to stay on top of whatever life may throw your way:

1. Fine-tune Your Diet

Nothing says “stressed out” like binging on ice cream sundaes or sneaking handfuls of chocolate between meals. (Thanks, cortisol.)

If you’re spending too much time snacking thanks to life stressors, you might be sabotaging the fuel your hair needs to grow.

“[Protein is] essential to hair growth,” dermatologist Francesca Fusco told Fitness. “Even though there’s nothing that can speed up the process, there are things you can do to slow it down, and not ingesting enough protein is one of them.”

And there’s not exactly a whole lot of protein – or other macronutrients – in a box of Oreos. (Sorry to break to to you.)

Get back on track with a hair-healthy diet full of protein and Omega-3s. Think salmon, avocados, walnuts, and flax seeds – the nutrient-rich proteins and veggies your hair needs to bounce back.

2. Double Check Your Birth Control

Have you recently gone on the pill? Your body might be having a negative reaction to all that progesterone, causing your hair to thin and fall out, says dermatologist Neil Sadick.

“The progesterone component can break down into a male-like hormone in the body,” Sadick explained to Women’s Health.

This issue is more common than you might think. Make it a point to discuss your symptoms with your general practitioner or your OB-GYN, so you can come up with a game plan.

3. Hop on the Treadmill

Exercise is especially helpful if you’re going through a stressful life transition, whether you’re moving, looking for a new job, or planning a wedding.

The more you can manage stress on a daily basis with preventative exercise, the less you’ll feel like pulling your hair out as the big day gets closer.

One of the most surefire ways to reduce stress is to get those endorphins pumping, says physiologist Monika Fleshner.

“Exercise helps produce resilience, not because it eliminates the stress response, which would be bad because you want your body to recognize and respond to dangerous situations, but because it acts as a buffer to it,” Fleshner told Fitness.

“Say your boss asks, ‘Why haven’t you met your deadline?’ If you’ve been exercising regularly, you’re less likely to respond with a full-blown physiological stress response — elevated heart rate, high blood pressure — as would someone who is sedentary,” she adds.

One more reason not to be a couch potato!

4. Chill Out

Nothing says “self-care” like knowing when you need to take a break and relax.

Mastering relaxation techniques – from yoga to meditation – can also have a positive impact on your body’s ability to handle stressful situations.

According to Prevention, “People who practiced Buddhist meditation significantly decreased both cortisol and blood pressure in a 6-week Thai study.”

Hit the mat for gorgeous hair? We only have one word: “Om.”

It’s no fun to deal with hair loss – especially if accelerated shedding happens after a period of high stress, hormonal change, or trauma.

Still, stress-related hair loss is common enough that there are plenty of women who’ve faced the same issue – and lived to tell the tale.

Learn to recognize the signs of elevated stress in your body, so you can address its effects on your health – and your hair – before you start shedding like crazy.

Better yet, take the preventative route by planning a hair-healthy diet, making sure you get regular exercise, and taking time out for self-care – especially when you feel “too busy” for a soak in the tub or some quality time on your yoga mat.

That’s when you need it most.

Have you ever experienced stress-related hair loss? Tell us how you got your groove back in the comments below:

Images: Unsplash, Unsplash, Unsplash, Unsplash

The Skinny on Sulfates: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Hair

If you’re worried about sulfates and all those unpronounceable ingredients on the back of your shampoo bottle, we’re here to shed a little light on what’s in your suds.

But understanding what’s in your shampoo is only the first step to getting clean, soft, and manageable hair.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to get squeaky clean – without irritating your sensitive scalp:

What’s In a Name? All About Sulfates

For the past ten years, conscious consumers have started to get wise to the beauty industry. They worry about parabens and phthalates and sulfates – but they might not know exactly why.

Wonder no more. Before you chuck all your shampoo straight in the garbage, we’re here to help you de-code some of those ingredients, starting with sulfates.

First things first: sulfates are surfactants, or the chemical compound that helps create lather in shampoo.

“This unique property allows soaps, shampoos, and body washes to separate dirt and oil from your skin or hair and then allow the water you rinse it with to carry it off your body and down the drain,” explains XOVain.com’s resident chemist, Kevin Ewell.

When they crop up in shampoos, sulfates come in the form of sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, or ammonium laureth sulfate. These compounds make shampoo lather bubbly and leave you with that squeaky-clean feeling.

While sulfates in and of themselves aren’t necessarily dangerous, they can be drying and irritating – especially if you have curly hair.

“Sodium lauryl sulfate, the key ingredient in most traditional shampoos, is both a salt and a detergent – an effective cleanser that’s too harsh for most curls,” writes Lexi Novak at Allure.

Using sulfate shampoo on curly, fine, or color-treated hair is likely to result in a dry, frizzy, irritated mess, since sulfates strip away natural oils – and moisture.

If this problem sounds familiar to you, you may want to steer clear of shampoos with sulfates. Curly-haired ladies already have enough trouble maintaining moisture as it is.

And while there are plenty of studies that show sulfates don’t cause cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, chemist Kevin Ewell points out that they are a known irritant.

“Get sulfate shampoo in your eyes and it will really sting,” said Ewell. Ouch.

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the beauty and cosmetics industry, and lack of regulation and testing standards is certainly one of them. So if the chance of encountering sulfates in your shampoo freaks you out, we totally get it.

Thankfully, it is possible to avoid sulfates in shampoo altogether. Whether you’re allergic, sensitive, or just want to play it safe, here’s the 411 on going sulfate-free:

The Low-Down on Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Switching to sulfate-free shampoo has never been easier. There are more options on the market, and plenty of good reasons to try out a product with fewer chemicals.

“I think there are so many chemicals in our personal hygiene products, foods and environment that people have become more aware and rightly concerned,” dermatologist Rebecca Baxt explained to Huffington Post.

“Anything with fewer chemicals has become more popular,” she added, referring to the number of sulfate-free shampoos available.

Since sulfates are the primary ingredient responsible for shampoo lather, you can expect a less bubbly experience in the shower, says cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson.

“Sulfate-free systems are more difficult to thicken, which means that chemists have to add more ingredients to make a nice product,” Wilson told Women’s Health. “Otherwise your shampoo would flow like water.”

If you’re allergic to sulfates or they dry out your scalp, you should start to notice a difference right away with your new shampoo.

Your hair will be softer, retaining more of its natural oils between washes. Your scalp should feel calmer, too, since sulfates can actually lift up the hair’s cuticle as they clean, leading to dryness and irritation.

Shopping around for a sulfate-free shampoo? You should look for “mild detergents that don’t completely wash away your hair’s moisture,” writes Alessandra Foresto at Women’s Health.

“They have names that are a mouthful and sound similar to sulfates, like sodium lauryl sulfoacetate,” she adds. (Gesundheit!)

When it comes down to it, choosing to go sulfate-free is a personal choice – every woman has totally different needs based on her hair type, says Foresto.

“Those with parched or color-treated hair may benefit from using a gentler cleansing choice to prevent their hair from feeling super dry,” she writes, “while those who have greasier strands will probably find that they need to use sulfates to truly feel like their hair is clean.”

If you want to check out sulfate-free shampoos and need a few ideas about where to start, here are a few great options from StyleCaster and InStyle to help you in your quest for clean (but well-moisturized!) hair.

A Better Shower

When it comes to lathering up (or not lathering up, as the sulfate-free case might be), shampooing is only half the battle.

Most people actually shampoo way too often, says health writer Nick Burns, drying out their hair and irritating their scalp in the process.

“Washing daily with any shampoo, even with the low-sulfate kind, will strip some oil and dry your hair and scalp,” writes Burns at Men’s Journal.

“What’s more, most styling products like gel and hairspray are water-soluble, so they don’t need shampoo to rinse out of hair,” he adds.

Whether or not you make the switch to sulfate-free shampoo, most experts recommend scaling back on shampoo use for healthier hair – especially if you regularly combat dryness.

You only need to shampoo once or twice a week – even less if you plan to co-wash your hair with conditioner. This way, you retain natural oils and sebum that will moisturize both your scalp and your hair.

Co-washing can help you keep your scalp clean without the drying effect of shampoo and is especially helpful for women who have transitioned from relaxed to natural hair.

“Most conditioners contain trace amounts of detergents called cationic surfactants, or ‘quats’ for short,” explains Jenny Jin at Real Simple.

“When mixed with water, the quats pick up tiny amounts of dirt, leaving unshampooed hair feeling clean but not squeakily so.”

That’s right – your conditioner has plenty of cleaning power already!

Ladies with natural hair should try co-washing every 3-4 days, while women with curly or thick hair can work it into their routine once a week.

If you really want to retain moisture during the winter months, try turning down the temperature of your water, too, advises Ellen Sackoff, the founder of Cornelia beauty products.

“Use lukewarm to warm water—not overly hot, or you’ll prematurely dry out your skin,” Sackoff told Prevention.

Paying close attention to water temperature, heating tools, and shampoo routines can help you retain moisture and avoid irritation – the key to a happier, healthier shower.

And there you have it! A cleansing solution that won’t leave you high and dry.

While you shouldn’t have to be a chemist to break down all the ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner, sometimes a little bit of knowledge goes a long way.

Even though sulfates won’t make you sick, they can irritate the skin and completely dry out curly hair – so beware!

Thankfully, sulfate-free shampoos are easier than ever to track down, and a conscientious shower routine will help you keep moisture where it belongs: in your curls.

Have you made the switch to a sulfate-free shampoo? Tell us what you think in the comments below:

Images: Flickr, Pexels, Pexels, Pexels

Hair Braids for Days (Various Styles and How They Potentially Protect Your Hair)

During cold, dry winter months, leaving your hair to its own devices will backfire faster than you can say “coconut oil.”

The good news? With a little bit of prep and our killer primer on hair braids, you can rock your natural hair all winter long.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to protect your ends – and look super cute – no matter what the forecast says.

Wigs, Weaves, and Scarves, Oh My!

Literally nothing about transitioning from relaxed to natural hair is easy. Add winter into the mix, and you’re facing down a perfect storm of bad hair days.

Avoid breakage and dry, frayed ends by using protective styling, especially when those temps start dipping into the 30s. Just make sure your style works for your hair type, cautions hair stylist Anthony Dickey.

“There are as many hair textures as there are shades of people,” Dickey told Allure. “The [curl] grading system can help to determine how these terms apply to your texture and not someone else’s.”

Okay 3cs and 4bs! Before you start paging through your Instagram looking for killer braids, make sure you’re prepared to properly moisturize your scalp and hair.

“The tighter your hair texture, the more required it is to prep your hair before you braid up or add in any weave,” Dickey explained.

Rich shea butter or coconut oil will give you just the right amount of moisture while you’re rocking those braids.

“[Coconut oil is] my favorite because it’s rich, but not thick,” natural hair stylist Sammy LaCombe told Self. “It accentuates, softens, and adds shine to a curl without being too greasy.”

But the quest for moisture doesn’t stop once your hair is braided. Even while you’re rocking a protective style, it’s important to beat dryness to the punch. Adding just a few drops of moisturizing oil to your scalp and ends can help you make it to your next wash day without feeling frazzled or fried.

LaCombe recommends washing your hair every 10 to 14 days to keep your scalp free of product and oil buildup – without sapping moisture from your hair. But be prepared – wash day can take all day, warns Barbara Gonzalez at Self.

“The biggest complaint most people have about giving up relaxers: how incredibly time consuming styling can be, especially on wash days,” writes Gonzalez.

“Pick a day where you don’t have much on your agenda, so you can complete all of your routine—hot oil treatment, shampoo, deep conditioner, and styling—on that day,” she adds.

In between shampoos, you can also keep moisture in by co-washing, or rinsing your hair with conditioner.

“Since unshampooed hair retains more of its natural oils than shampooed hair, the conditioner’s moisturizing agents will now leave strands even smoother and silkier than usual,” stylist Nicole Tresch explained to Real Simple. (Yeah, co-washing is our new BFF, too).

With newly conditioned and totally prepped hair, you’re ready to rock a protective style that will save your ends.

Just be careful not to get too obsessed with pulling your hair back, since leaving hair in a protective style for too long can cause damage. Let your hair down every few days, especially if you’ve been rocking a ponytail or tight, high bun.

“These looks can thin out your hairline and damage your roots from all the tugging and excess force,” explains Gonzalez.

“Instead, try out different protective styles that put less tension on the hair, but still keep your ends tucked away.”

Need some ideas? Here are six of our fave DIY braid styles that you can manage yourself (or with a little help from your stylist) without putting added stress on your curls:

1. Jumbo Braids

Honestly, thank God for BuzzFeed. These ladies have a ton of ideas for styling natural hair – even if you’re new to managing curls on your own.

“Jumbo braids are a good alternative to box braids because they’re lighter and create less tension on your hair,” explains BuzzFeed’s beauty editor Essence Grant.

“The key is to part your hair off into very large sections. Note that if you braid really tight, the braids will be more stiff. For more swing, braid loose enough so that your hair moves,” Grant adds.

Looser braids will also give your hair a bit of a break, making it less likely to pull strands or cause unwanted thinning.

Watch the tutorial here.

2. Halo or Goddess Braid

Get your afro under control with an off-center part, two loose braids that crown your head, and plenty of bobby pins.

Not only will this style protect your ends, but it’s also perfect for getting long hair away from your face and neck while still looking totally chic.

YouTube star It’sMeBFairley shows you how to get it done.

3. Bantu Knots

Feeling brave? Bantu knots can be complicated for first-timers but offer plenty of protection.

“Shampoo and condition the hair as you normally would. Then, using a rat tail comb, detangle and evenly section off the hair into diamond, triangle or square shapes,” explains Princess Gabbara at Ebony.

With your hair sectioned into whatever pattern’s easiest, twist each section, wrap ends at the base of the twist, and bobby pin into place. Voilà! A protective bantu knot.

If this style is too much to handle by yourself (we totally get it), just opt for a Janelle Monáe-inspired double bun.

4. Soft Twists

“Updos can put a lot of tension on your growing hair, so let it relax with loose twists,” writes Taylor Bryant at Refinery29.

“Plus, you’re able to add some needed nourishment if you seal in the ends with a bit of oil or serum,” she adds.

Learn how to get this look here.

5. Twisted Knot

Like the idea of a Bantu knot but don’t exactly feel like channeling Lauryn Hill?

Keep it understated with a twisted knot that combines the best of braiding with a single, large Bantu-inspired knot at the nape of your neck.

This style works best if your hair’s already quite long and stretchy. Learn how to get the look here.

6. Milkmaid Twists

Nothing says “fresh as a daisy” like milkmaid pigtails that protect your ends. (Don’t worry – you won’t look like you’ve been hanging out in a barn all day.)

“Unlike most protective styles, this look uses ponytail holders to start the look,” explains Lauren Turner at Bustle.

“After you’ve made two ponytails, braid the hair and wrap it around the front.”

Get a full tutorial from MahoganyCurls here.

Protect and Preserve

You’ve prepped, you’ve moisturized like crazy, you’ve perfected your braids until your auntie would be glowing with pride.

But if you don’t take two extra steps to stay on top of your protective styling, all that wrapping, twisting, and braiding will amount to nothing.

Ladies, the ultimate protective move – even if you’re worried about maintaining length – is to cut your hair.

Regular trims remove dry and fraying ends, which is just unhealthy growth that’s not doing you or your hair any favors.

“Every time I washed my hair the dead ends would get all knotted up, so trimming my hair made it more manageable and cut down on my styling time,” explained stylist Monique McCorkle to Self.

Sound familiar? Head to your stylist every month or so to make sure dead ends and knots don’t stand in the way of your hair’s health.

Finally, be sure to invest in a silk scarf for sleeping. Not only will it protect your hair while you get your beauty rest, but it’ll also help keep moisture where it belongs – in your curls.

When you’re transitioning to natural hair, it can feel like a full-time job to take care of your curls – and you’re already busy being fabulous!

Cut down on styling time with simple braids and twists, and, better yet, protect those ends from dryness and damage.

Have you transitioned your hair from relaxed to natural? Tell us what protective styles you can’t live without in the comments below:

Images: Pexels, Instagram, YouTube, Instagram, YouTube

Eating for Healthy Skin and Hair

We’ve all had weeks where we’re tired, run-down, and ready to dissolve into a stress puddle.

Chances are, these are the times we’re also scarfing junk food instead of salads.

Eating all the discounted Valentine’ Day candy in sight doesn’t just make you feel terrible – it’s also awful for your skin and hair.

So pardon us if we sound a little bit like your mom, here. But, ladies? You are what you eat!

If you don’t want to take our word for it, nutritionist extraordinaire Joy Bauer, of The Today Show fame, explains why healthy hair and skin happens from the inside out.

“Good hair depends on the body’s ability to construct a proper hair shaft, as well as the health of the skin and follicles,” writes Bauer at her blog. And your body just can’t build strong hair if you don’t foster good nutritional habits.

So for gorgeous, shiny hair and luminous skin, re-think your grocery cart. Here are the six categories you should always add to your list:

1. All Aboard for Antioxidants

Antioxidants kick wrinkles to the curb and help your skin stay oh-so-hydrated. Without a doubt, these cancer-fighting, age-defying nutrients will transform the way your skin looks.

“Studies show that the vitamins and minerals [antioxidants] contain can do everything from speeding cell turnover (to reveal healthier skin underneath) to protecting skin from the sun’s damaging rays,” explain the editors of Prevention.

So, where do you find these magic-workers? Most often they’re in the fruit aisle – but there are some yummy veggie outliers, too.

Your best – and most delicious – sources include blueberries (chock-full of Vitamin C), tomatoes (lots of lycopene for strong bones), and sweet potatoes (skin-healing beta-carotene).

And if you’re looking for a healthy skin, healthy hair twofer, beta-carotene is where it’s at.

“Beta-carotene in foods is converted to vitamin A in the body, and vitamin A is necessary for all cell growth, including hair,” writes nutritionist Joy Bauer.

“A deficiency can lead to dry, dull, lifeless hair and dry skin, which can flake off into dandruff,” she adds.

So when you’re thinking about antioxidants, don’t just load your cart full of berries. Pick out some Vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes to put a stop to dry, flaky skin and lifeless locks.

2. Oh My, Omega-3s

In America, it’s easy to fear fat. But, says dermatologist Dr. Apple Bodeme, some fats, like Omega-3 fatty acids, are crucial for heart and hair health.

“Essential fatty acids are really important,” Bodeme told Today.com. “People who are on really, really low fat diets [have] hair breaking and hair falling out.”

This might be because part of your hair follicle actually is made up of fatty acids – making this nutrient important for hair growth and strength.

To add more lustre to your locks, stock up on avocados and fatty fish, like salmon or tuna. Many nuts and seeds also offer the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is why most nutritionists recommend walnuts and pumpkin seeds to hit your daily quota.

“[Since] your body can’t produce [Omega-3s] on its own, it’s important you get these fatty acids from your diet,” explains Carina Wolff at Bustle.

Whether you add more fish to your dinner menu, walnuts on your lunchtime salad, or a daily supplement, Omega-3s are a must for healthy hair.

3. Va-Va-Vitamins

You know taking your vitamins is important, but getting more vitamin C and vitamin B-complex in your diet makes a huge difference in skin and hair health over time.

“Your body needs vitamin C to help create protein, and your body’s ability to make enough of that hair-and muscle-builder is key for strong, unbreakable strands,” dermatologist Whitney Bowe told Prevention.

And you thought vitamin C was just a side benefit of your morning O.J.!

When you head to the store, keep an eye out for other fruits and veggies, including strawberries and red peppers, which contain enough vitamin C to keep your hair strong and healthy.

If you really need to beef up the strength of your strands, add more foods with vitamin B-complex, like oats and eggs, to your diet, too.

“Whether you enjoy them sunny side up for breakfast or boiled and sliced cold over a green salad, eggs are serious healthy-hair helpers,” write the editors of Best Health.

“One of their key ingredients is sulfur, an essential nutrient that helps with everything from vitamin B absorption to liver function.”

Not to mention all the hair-strengthening biotin – a crucial B vitamin – packed into those delicious yolks!

Breakfast has always been our favorite meal of the day. But the chance to stock up on extra vitamin C and vitamin B for flawless skin and hair is our new favorite excuse for breakfast food.

4. Fall in Love with Lutein

If you’re not in love with lutein – yet! – you will be by the end of this post. Lutein is a carotenoid that boosts eye strength and, like other antioxidants, it also protects your skin from sun damage.

Found in leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and brussels sprouts, lutein will strengthen your vision more effectively than munching on carrots.

According to health writer Kasandra Brabaw, that’s because lutein helps eliminate the effects of free radicals on the body, especially on your eyes.

“Since oxidative stress has been associated with damage to the optic nerve, which contributes to glaucoma and other vision problems, antioxidants like [lutein] can prevent further eye damage,” writes Brabaw at Prevention.

If love is in the eye of the beholder, you better have enough lutein in your system to see who’s come courting.

5. Power Up with Protein

Healthy skin, nails, and hair only generate when your body has enough protein to get cracking. That’s why serious protein deficiencies can lead to thinning hair, or even to serious breakage.

“Without enough protein, your body can’t replace the hairs that you naturally shed every day,” dermatologist Rebecca Kazin explained to Prevention.

Give your hair some extra oomph by stocking up on lean proteins, including Greek yogurt, chicken, eggs, and lentils.

Lentils and beans, in particular, will also give your diet a healthy boost in iron – another crucial nutrient for healthy hair.

“It’s easy for women to run low on iron because of their monthly cycle,” dermatologist Whitney Bowe explained to Prevention.

An iron deficiency is also one of the first problems your doctor may check for if you have thinning hair.

“It sends your body into survival mode, so your body channels oxygen to support vital functions as opposed to ones like keeping your hair intact,” gynecologist Luke Moritz told Huffington Post of the dangers of iron deficiency and anemia.

If you’re losing more than 100 strands of hair per day, then it’s time to set up an appointment and run some tests.

Otherwise, keeping your refrigerator stocked with lean meats – and your cupboards full of beans and lentils – should keep your hair happy and healthy.

6. Cuckoo for Cocoa

We may have started off wagging our finger about junk food, but there is one pick-me-up that will do wonders for your skin. (Shh. Don’t tell mom.)

“Dark chocolate helps skin stay hydrated and protects skin from sun damage, and contrary to popular belief, chocolate does not cause acne,” writes Marianne Magno at Fitness. (We knew it!)

With anti-inflammatory powers for curbing the effects of wrinkles, as well as antioxidant flavonols, dark chocolate will help your skin glow and satisfy your sugar cravings.

Just be careful when shopping and make sure you get the good stuff. Plenty of cocoa has added sugar and fat – which won’t make you feel good! Instead, be sure to stock up on chocolate that has – at least – 60% cocoa content.

When it comes to healthy skin and hair, your grocery cart is a secret weapon. Stock up on fruits and veggies with hair-healthy vitamins and plenty of lean protein to grow out that luxurious mane.

You can even nibble on dark chocolate without a trace of guilt, since high concentrations of cocoa will help defeat wrinkles. (How’s that for a treat?)

Over time, a diet for healthy skin and hair will work wonders, fueling your day and transforming your most effective beauty routine into the one you cook up at your stove.

Have you ever changed your diet to transform your skin and hair? Tell us what worked for you in the comments below:

 

Images: Pexels, Pexels, Pexels, Pexels, Pixabay

 

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Drink Your Water for Healthy, Shiny Hair

If you thought the recommendation to drink your water (six to eight servings a day) was bogus – or impossible – you may want to reconsider. Turns out staying hydrated is the key to healthy, shiny hair – and a whole host of other benefits for your bod.

Read on to discover 10 reasons why water is important for your skin, hair, and nails. Are you getting enough?

1. H2O for Major Growth

Sometimes it feels like it takes forever for hair to grow out – especially if you’re already experiencing thinning or breakage.

According to stylist Jeanie Syfu, drinking enough water can help you change course.

“It’s the oldest trick in the book, and truly the top trick to getting your hair to look its best,” Syfu told Self.

“When you don’t drink enough water, your hair and skin dry out, which can also slow down the process of new hair growth,” she added.

To help speed up the growth process, pay special attention to your diet, too. Protein, fatty acids, and vitamins all play a big role in hair growth.

2. Hydrated Hair is Strong Hair

If your hair is brittle from battling relaxers, coloring treatments, or other hydration-sapping styles, it’s time to drink up.

Getting enough H2O strengthens the cuticle of both your hair and nails, says dietitian Holley Grainger.

“Adding more water to your diet and making sure you stay hydrated is key to general body functions,” Grainger explained to Good Housekeeping.

And that includes helping circulate proteins to your hair and nails for stronger cuticles and follicles with staying power.

3. Helping Hand

You won’t exactly see overnight changes in your hair, skin, and nails just by drinking an extra glass of water.

According to dermatologist Katie Rodan, that’s because a glass of water has to make plenty of other stops before it delivers hydration to your skin.

“It goes through the intestines, gets absorbed into your bloodstream, and is filtered by kidneys. Then it hydrates cells,” Rodan told Real Simple.

Drinking water is a necessary part of this hydration process – it just takes a while to see results.

4. Stem Hair Loss

Stress, diet, and the genetic lottery are often the biggest factors when you’re facing hair loss. But dehydration can play its part, too.

“If your lackluster locks are accompanied by hot flashes, night sweats, and lack of energy, the common denominator is likely dehydration,” writes Jessica Migala at Prevention.

When your body’s running low on H2O, hair becomes weaker and more prone to breakage.

“Dehydrated hair is brittle,” Diana Bitner, a Michigan-based OBGYN, told Migala.

If any of this sounds familiar, it might be time to drink up.

5. Shine On

Water’s not just for inner beauty. Taking the right kind of shower also has a big impact on the health of your hair.

Want to add an extra sheen to your locks? Dial down the temperature on your morning shower just before you’re ready to step out.

“The chilly temp constricts the cuticle layer of your hair so it lies flatter; making strands smoother and more reflective,” reports Jennifer Goldstein at Health.

We’re not partial to cold showers, but we’d be willing to stand a quick plunge if it meant movie-star shiny hair!

6. Mind Your Minerals

How strong is your water? No, we’re not talking about shower pressure, here.

Knowing whether you have “hard” water (full of minerals that haven’t been filtered out) or “soft” can actually help with detangling your mane.

“Soft shower water leaves hair more manageable because there are few mineral salts (pesky molecules that can make strands rough and prone to tangles),” explains Goldstein.

Speed up the process of combing your curls by looking for a showerhead filter to rid your water of extra junk.

7. Get Curly With It

We know how girls with straight hair get curl envy. Turns out you can use water to your advantage to get wavy hair – without risking heat damage.

“Each of your strands is made up of hydrogen bonds that separate when hair is wet,” Jeni Thomas, a senior scientist for Pantene, told Health.

Take advantage of this process after your shower by setting curls while your hair is wet. When your hair dries – and the hydrogen bonds reform – voilà!

You should come out the other side with perfectly hydrated, curly hair.

8. Glow from Within

An endless parade of celebs claim they get their “inner glow” from drinking oodles of water (though we bet it might also have something to do with those expensive facials).

Still, staying hydrated can help your skin look younger and more vibrant, says dermatologist Rachel Nazarian.

“I’ve found that water makes a big difference in skin health,” Nazarian told Women’s Health. “Without adequate water intake, skin appears duller, and wrinkles and pores more prominent.”

Thinking about water as an insta-wrinkle zapper makes drinking eight glasses a day so much more appealing.

9. Get Rid of Zits

Maybe one of the saddest parts of getting older is realizing breakouts are still possible outside of your teen years. (Unfair!)

Drinking more water can actually help balance out your skin and stop breakouts in their tracks, says plastic surgeon Julius Few.

“It is critical to have a stable balance of water to oil on the surface of skin,” Few explained to Women’s Health.

“If the skin is too heavily covered in oil relative to water, this can lead to clogged pores with acne breakouts and blemishes.”

If you’re in need of a skin cure-all to tame your breakouts, upping your water intake is the perfect place to start. (We wouldn’t dare take away your chocolate.)

10. Look Beyond Water

When it comes to keeping skin and hair hydrated, water works wonders – but you need more than H2O.

Your diet is also a crucial component of building strong, healthy, and shiny hair, so plan on eating plenty of lean protein and fatty acids.

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

Fatty acids, like those found in avocados, walnuts, and fish, will also help your strands stay strong and hydrated.

According to Drayer, “Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to build the cell membranes in the skin of your scalp and maintain the natural oil that keeps your scalp and hair from drying out.”

And while staying hydrated certainly helps your skin, you’ll still need a moisturizer to keep your skin’s natural oils replenished.

“A quarter-size dollop of lotion will do much more for your skin than drinking a quart of water,” Katie Rodan explained to Real Simple.

That’s because water takes a long time to cycle through your body before helping skin cells replenish their moisture content, says Rodan.

If you’re in need of an immediate dry skin pick-me-up, turn to a face cream with natural moisturizers like coconut oil and shea butter. Humectants like honey can also lock moisture in, so your skin has a chance to absorb it.

Most of us don’t drink nearly enough water during the day – and our hair, skin, and nails suffer for lack of it. (Not to mention our brains and major muscle groups!)

Not only will more H2O help you feel alert and ready to tackle the day, it can also serve as the cheapest, most effective weapon in your beauty routine.

Have you found a way to trick yourself into drinking more water? Tell us your hydration secrets in the comments below:

Images: Pexels, Pexels, Pexels, Pexels, Pexels

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