Considering it is technically dead tissue, we spend an awful lot of time, money, and energy on hair care. And well we should. In addition to being fun to style and color, hair serves a valuable biological purpose: It keeps your head warm and helps regulate body temperature.
Hair, like nails, is an extension of your epidermis, the outer layer of your skin. It is composed mainly of protein. The typical hair cell stays with you for three to five years until it falls or grows out. Most of the time, it gets replaced. Because you spend so much time with your hair, particularly if you’re a woman, it deserves good care. So here are some hair care tips to help you keep your hair shiny, healthy, and beautiful:
1. Mash a ripe avocado (pit removed) with one egg, then apply to wet hair. Avocados are rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals that will help restore luster to your hair, says Stephen Sanna, expert colorist at the Pierre Michel Salon in New York City. Leave on for at least 20 minutes, then rinse several times. Repeat once a week for damaged hair and once a month for healthy hair.
2. Use one part apple cider vinegar and two parts very warm water to help balance the pH level of your scalp and bring out natural red highlights. It may be smelly, but it works, says Federico. Simply pour the vinegar mixture onto your hair, massage it into your scalp, and let it dry for a few minutes. Then wash hair as usual.
3. Mix one egg with a small amount of shampoo, apply to your hair for five minutes, and rinse well. This “shampoo omelet” helps to enhance the protein in your hair.
4. Make your own conditioner. Here are some simple tips to condition your hair using some everyday household ingredients:
- Rub enough mayonnaise into your hair to coat it, wait up to an hour, and wash it out. You’ll be amazed at how soft and shiny your hair is, thanks to this great protein source.
- Substitute condensed milk for your regular conditioner. The protein provides an extra-special shine.
- Mix 2 ounces olive oil and 2 ounces aloe vera gel with 6 drops each of rosemary and sandalwood essential oils. Olive oil is an emollient, aloe hydrates, and rosemary adds body and softness.
5. Take one to three 250-milligram capsules of borage oil, evening primrose oil, or flaxseed oil one to three times a day. All are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like gamma-linolenic acid, great for keeping hair (and nails) moisturized, says Kathleen W. Wilson, M.D., an internist at the Ochsner Health Center in New Orleans and author of When You Think You Are Falling Apart.
Tips to get natural highlights, add gloss, tame flyaways
6. For soft, natural highlights, squeeze some lemon juice on your hair before heading into the sun. Or use shampoos and styling products that contain citrus fruits, suggests celebrity hairstylist Federico of Beverly Hills. Citrus adds subtle streaks to your hair without adding damage.
7. To get beautiful streaks at home, mix honey and alum, an aluminum compound sold in most drugstores. Combine the two ingredients into a thick paste and paint the mixture on with your fingertips. Sit in the sun for 45 minutes, then shampoo and rinse your hair. You should have highlights three shades lighter than your natural hair color.
8. Bathe your hair in botanical oils. Available at health food stores, olive, jojoba, and sweet almond oils are all wonderful elixirs for hair. If your hair is thick and heavy, coconut oil works wonders. Dampen your hair and apply small amounts of the botanical oil until your hair is thoroughly covered. Cover with a shower cap and warm towel for a half-hour, then rinse and shampoo as usual.
9. Mix a few drops of sandalwood oil with a few drops of olive or jojoba oil, rub the mixture between your palms, then smooth it through the ends of your hair for instant sleekness and a way to instantly curb and condition brittle, flyaway hair. Or you can squirt a few drops of hand lotion in your palm and smooth it through your hair.
10. Mix a few drops of your favorite fragrance into your hair gel before applying. You’ll wind up with hair that not only looks, but smells, great, says Susie Galvez, author of Hello Beautiful: 365 Ways to Be Even More Beautiful.
11. Transform ordinary shampoo into an herbal experience by mixing in a few drops of essential oils. Dilute an eight-ounce bottle of shampoo by half with water and add about 20 drops of essential oil of lavender.
Tips to protect against split ends and keep hair bouncy
12. Only spritz three times with hair spray. In addition to making you look like you just stepped out of 1962, too much hair spray can weigh down your hair, leaving it flat. Instead, try a bionutrient styling spray containing the B vitamin panthenol. It will condition your hair and help protect it from environmental and styling damage.
13. Wrap wet hair gently in a towel and let the cotton absorb the moisture for a few minutes instead of rubbing. This helps protect against split ends.
14. Check the drain after each shower for the amount of hair. The typical person loses from 50 to 200 hairs a day (out of 80,000 to 120,000 hairs on the head). So it’s normal to have a very small clump of hair left on the drain after washing. But if that amount starts increasing, see your doctor. It could mean your scalp has an infection, or that baldness is beginning to set in, or in rarer circumstances, that you have a nutritional deficiency.
15. Get dressed and put your makeup on before styling your hair. This way, your hair will be almost dry. Hair is most susceptible to damage when wet.
16. Shampoo gray hair every day with a blue-colored shampoo. By nature of its light color, gray hair gets duller, dirtier, and drier than darker shades, which is why it’s so important to shampoo and condition it daily. The bluish shampoo helps hide any yellowish (read: aging) tinge.
17. Allow at least four weeks between single-process color treatments and at least eight weeks between high- or low-light treatments, Stephen Sanna recommends.
18. Create instant highlights by applying champagne- or gold-hued eye shadow to your hair with an ordinary makeup sponge.
19. Use a humidifier at night in your bedroom, especially in cold weather. Your home heating probably keeps the air very dry, which can dry out your hair.
20. To keep your hair bouncy and healthy, occasionally shampoo your roots only and then apply conditioner to just your ends. Then rinse.
Tips for an amazing haircut, and more
21. To reduce damage to your tresses and add pouf to your do, dry your hair until 90 percent of the moisture is removed, then stop. Most people falsely believe they must use a hair dryer until their hair is bone-dry. Not true. The style should fall into place if your hair is healthy and well cut.
22. If you usually wear your hair in a ponytail, take it out for a few hours a day to give your hair a break. Also, try not to pull hair back too tightly. And never sleep with any sort of accessories in your hair.
23. Comb conditioner through your hair before hitting the pool to protect it from the harsh chemicals. When you finish with your swim, rinse with 1/4 cup apple cider mixed with 3/4 cup water to help cleanse hair, recommends Susie Galvez, author of Hello Beautiful: 365 Ways to Be Even More Beautiful, then follow with more conditioner. Do the same before hitting the beach.
24. Use moisturizing conditioner two to three times a week to combat fine, thin hair. Many people think conditioners will flatten thin hair, but actually, using a moisturizing conditioner a few times a week will help your hair block out humidity, which can make hair flat.
25. Use a gentle shampoo for oily hair. Ironically, harsh shampoos can actually lead to more oil because your scalp tries to compensate. Use a shampoo that’s gentle enough for everyday use.
26. Flip your head over, spray the underneath layers with hair spray, and shake out to instantly style your hair without rewashing and blow-drying.
27. Use styling gel correctly. Here’s how to get the hold you want without looking like you stepped out of a grease pit. Place a dime-size dollop of product in the palm of one hand, then dab a tiny amount onto the fingertips of your other hand, leaving most of the gel in your palm. Starting at the back of your head near your scalp line, work the gel from your fingertips into the root area of your hair and continue until the dollop disappears.
28. For an amazing haircut, ask your stylist to cut the ends of your hair so they’re slightly jagged instead of blunt. This provides extra body and texture.
29. If you’re trying to grow out your bangs, ask your hairdresser to add a few long layers around your face to help the bangs fade in as they grow.
30. Men: If you’re going bald, go short. One of the worst mistakes balding men make is the comb-over. A sexier, more modern style is the closely trimmed, Bruce Willis look. An added bonus: Your hair will be easy to maintain.