How to Grow Long, Healthy Hair
Have you tried growing your hair out, only to chop it off again because you're so frustrated at the breakage and dead ends? My hands raised...been there! Seems like I would take a step forward and ten steps back (or maybe I should say an inch forward and ten inches back). My hair has been a mess since I had my sixth baby. I also started to notice thinning. It was frustrating!
Over the years I have done it all to my hair...perms, good ole' Sun-In, dyeing it darker every fall. I even died it dark brown once, panicked and washed it out too soon. It turned a lovely, swamp water green/brown. Later, I jumped on the natural band wagon and spent years washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar rinses, raw eggs (accidentally "cooking" it with too warm water). Yes. I was a crazy, crunchy mama. ;) My most recent hair adventures were curly girl method, which taught me a lot about the protein/moisture balance of my hair.
Today I'm going to share some of the things that have helped my hair tremendously, and I promise it won't involve smearing eggs in your hair.
1. Your Hair is What You Eat
Okay. Stating the obvious. But it really does make a difference. In Ukraine people would often accredit our hair growth, the girls in particular, to our diet. They said it was because we ate a lot of buckwheat. Was it the buckwheat? I don't know. But we do try to eat a balanced, healthy diet. We make sure to get good amounts of protein, whole grains, and tons of vegetables and fruits. Sugar is limited, though they get their fair share from our church people. ;) I also love to drink collagen. I do feel like I notice a difference when I remember to do that.
2. Avoid Sulfates and Space Out Wash Days
The sulfates are a big thing now, so everyone is advertising sulfate free now. But they have gotten tricky. Many "natural", "sulfate-free" shampoos use "natural" cleansers that are sometimes even harsher on the hair than even sulfates are. Read the ingredients and if you can, at least look up the first 5 ingredients to make sure they are gentle cleansers. I love this shampoo from this Canadian company. Their ingredients are very clean, yet it cleans extremely well. They list coconut oil as an ingredient, and no other cleansers. There are a lot of "coconut" based cleansers that are very harsh, some even harsher than sulfates. When I contacted them, they said they use a process called saponification to make it soap. The one I keep coming back to over the years is their Organic Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner.
Not only using gentler shampoos, but washing less frequently will help with your hair/scalp health and growth. I have practiced both of these tips on my girls since they were little. My mom always said not to wash it more than two times a week, so passing that down to them. (She washed hers only once a week.) You may need to use dry shampoo on off days. I definitely do (and sometimes I just have to wash every other day because I'm going somewhere important). Sometimes it's a cornstarch based baby powder, or cornstarch itself. But I have used some natural, dry shampoos (like this one from Chagrin Valley) as well that were pretty good. I'm just more of a do it yourself type of girl.
I like to use a deep conditioner almost every wash. The Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque is the BEST mask I've ever used! Always makes my hair amazing. It's like a mini keratin treatment. It is a protein mask so I don't use it more than once a week or my hair will start to get straw like and break. Protein is good, but too much for your hair will have the opposite effect. I also like this hair mask from Jessicurl. It is protein free and moisture rich. So I use this in-between and it makes my hair super soft and shiny too.
I also don't skip using a leave-in now, and this Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave In Conditioner is one I NEVER want to be without! Seriously, my hair turns to silk as soon as I put it in. For the girls when they have tangles, this SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Extra-Moisturizing Detangler paired with a Wet Brush, gets it all out without fuss.
3. Cut out Heat Styling.
As much as you possibly can, cut out the heat styling. Or at least the harshest ones, like curling irons and straighteners. I use a hairdryer just on my roots to add volume and style. When my hair is 50%-75% dry, I use the jumbo flexi rods, or sock curls. This probably should have been tip #1, because this probably makes the biggest difference in the growth of your hair if you want to avoid breakage and dry ends.
4. Massage and Boar Bristle Brush.
Massaging your scalp is a great way to get the blood flowing to your roots. It adds beautiful volume too. ;) I love to massage Jamaican Black Castor Oil in the night before I wash too. Jamaican Black Castor Oil is known to help increase hair growth and I notice little hairs growing in when I use it regularly. I also use it on my lashes once in a while when I remember. I love this one because it's more like a butter that you soften, so you don't need to worry about it running into your eyes. Brushing with a boar bristle brush on "non" wash days helps distribute the oil to your dryer ends. I love one mixed with Nylon, like this one from TEK.
4. Oil, Oil, Oil
Did I mention oil? I absolutely LOVE oils in my hair car routine! I've already mentioned castor oil, but I've also enjoyed olive oil treatments and coconut oil. I love both, but I've been obsessed with Meadowfoam Seed Oil ever since a friend gave me some Oil from Monat to try. I make my own hair oil with meadow foam seed oil as a base. I've linked each of the ingredients with the etsy shops I buy mine from. They are organic, shipped quickly, and packaged well so nothing leaked. And will make SO many bottles of oil! I haven't quite figured out the math yet, but I'm thinking it is less than $7 a bottle even using all organic oils. I hope to add in a few more soon, but trying this out for now.
♦ 2 tbsp meadowfoam seed oil
♦ 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
♦ 1 tbsp jojoba oil
♦ 1 tbsp camellia oil
♦ 10 drops sweet orange essential oil
(Recipe taken from here.)
Why do I LOVE this oil so much? It is a dry oil, so it doesn't leave your hair looking greasy. It is amazing! The biggest secret with oils is to only use a drop or two...unless you're doing it as a pre shampoo treatment.
5. Be Gentle
Avoid harsh hair styles, lots of teasing (which creates knots and breakage). Sleep with your hair either in a soft braid, loose high pony tail, or bun to avoid the friction caused when you sleep. If you can, get a satin pillowcase. I don't have one yet, but I have heard so many good things about it. It is on my wishlist.
I hope these tips are helpful and would love to help if you have any questions! And let me know, have you ever done anything crazy with your hair?