If you have dry hair, you probably also have to deal with a dry scalp, split ends and unmanageable hair. You may also have dandruff. Exposure to sun — whether from sailing,Â skiing or a day at the beach — can also dry out your hair and scalp: Protect them by wearing a hat or scarf. All hair, but especially dry hair, is fragile when wet, so wait to brush it until after it is dry. Hair can stretch to nearly double its length when it is wet, and this can be very damaging.
To understand how best to care for dry hair, it helps to know how hair is constructed. Each hair on your head has an outer layer that holds in moisture and protects the hair shaft. This outer layer is made of transparent, overlapping fibres like shingles on a roof. When these shingles are tight, they give hair a smooth, shiny appearance that reflects light. Chlorine, permanents, hair dye, blow drying, excessive sun exposure and alkaline shampoos all take their toll on dry hair because they strip away the natural oils and lift the shingles, causing a frizzy, flyaway look.
Tips And Treatments For Dry Hair
1. Unfortunately, most shampoos dry out hair and turn it alkaline. If you have dry hair, you should use a mild shampoo containing fatty acids, protein, balsams and moisturizers, and use only as much as needed to get your hair clean. All sorts of protein-rich ingredients, such as milk and egg yolk, have been used to condition dry hair and are still used in modern conditioners. Look for conditioners that contain comfrey — this high-protein herb will help your dry hair. Because hair is made up of dead cells, protein cannot directly feed it, but it can temporarily glue down the outer layer. This not only protects hair, but also helps hair reflect light for a look that is smooth and shiny instead of dull and dry. Hair will also seem thicker, at least until the protein coat wears off.
2. Herbs that combat dry hair include burdock, calendula, chamomile, rose geranium, lavender, rose, rose Martha, cedarwood and sandalwood. These herbs not only encourage healthy hair, but also smell great! But no matter how good your herbal shampoo may smell, it does little for your hair in the brief time it remains in place. To really help your hair, turn to herbal conditioners — and leave them on for a few minutes before rinsing. For dry, wispy ends, put a drop or two of sandalwood or rose Martha essential oil on your fingers and gently rub it in.
3. A hot oil treatment smoothes down the hair shaft to give damaged hair some shine, although it cannot always restore hair’s flexibility and bounce. Hot oil also helps treat a dry hair and scalp. The treatment, although simple to prepare, can be a little messy to apply. However, it is usually worth the effort.
4. Sulphur is also important for producing thick hair. It binds with the protein in the hair, making it stronger and more flexible. You can get sulphur in your diet by incorporating garlic, onions and members of the cabbage family and also by dining on nasturtiums, which you can add to your salad. The French recommend nasturtiums for all sorts of problems that result from having dry hair, and even claim that it prevents premature balding. They also add this flower to hair rinses. As an old country cure for brittle hair, they rub raw onion juice on their hair roots before shampooing!
5. Dandruff can be a problem with either a dry or an oily scalp, but these dry flakes are most common if you have a dry scalp and dry hair. If dandruff is a problem, use a conditioner that contains burdock and sage. In Asian countries, ginger root is used to stop flakiness and is even said to keep hair from falling out.
As is true with skin, having too much oil on your hair can be a problem. A little oil makes hair shiny because it smoothes out hair shafts by filling in minute abrasions. But too much oil makes your hair dull and lifeless — because the oil makes the hair heavy and causes it to attract more dirt, which can eventually lead to dandruff. Brushing and scalp massage stimulate circulation and hair growth and help to distribute the oils.
1. Cedarwood, cypress, lemon, lemongrass, sage and patchouli discourage excess oil production by the scalp. You can add a drop of one of these essential oils into a small amount of shampoo, although you should first make sure that you like the fragrance! A vinegar hair rinse discourages dandruff and rinses excess oil off your hair. It also cuts soap and shampoo residues, leaving hair shiny, smooth and soft. Don’t worry about smelling like pickles afterward; vinegar’s odour quickly dissipates. A rinse of sage tea also helps to reduce dandruff and excess oil.
2. If you have oily hair, be sure to use a mild shampoo — the harsh detergents found in many shampoos dry hair too much, encouraging the scalp to manufacture even more oil. A good shampoo cleans your hair without stripping away natural oil or irritating your eyes. Avoid protein and balsam shampoos, which tend to increase oiliness, make hair heavy and attract dirt. Baby shampoos, which are generally made from olive or soy oil, are the mildest and are usually pH balanced. If they are not pH balanced, make them more acidic by adding a tsp of vinegar per cup of shampoo.
3. Many natural cosmetics books give recipes for making shampoos with herb teas and castile soap flakes, but I find castile too alkaline, and it leaves my hair stiff and dull. I prefer using a gentle, non-detergent, unscented shampoo as a base, then adding my favourite herbal ingredients.
Courtesy of Evalu8.org.