Even though my hair isn’t very thick, I have always been able to grow it really long. It is currently down to the bottom of my back! As I have just added a brand new treatment onto my menu – the aromatic hair & scalp ritual, designed to condition and nourish the hair, encourage growth and ease tension in the neck, shoulders, face and head – I thought it would be a good time to share my secrets for growing long and healthy hair.
1. Switch to Natural Products
There are so many hair care products on the market today, all promising to do something different. The problem is, most mainstream products are filled with a plethora of hard-to-pronounce ingredients and potentially harmful chemicals. The main offender is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is responsible for the lather when we shampoo our hair. SLS can cause scalp irritation and can be too drying for the hair.
Try to use more natural products instead, which are likely to be kinder to your hair, scalp and body. Brands I love include Faith in Nature and PHB Ethical Beauty. Opt for natural hair dye too – I highly recommend Hair Today in Falmouth, who use only organic, vegan and cruelty-free products free from parabens, resorcinol, ammonia and PPD.
2. Minimise Heat
Try to limit your use of hair dryers, straighteners and curlers - too much heat can cause hair breakage and damage. Avoid vigorously rubbing your hair with a towel too, since this can also cause damage. Instead, carefully pat your hair with a soft towel then leave to air dry naturally if possible, and leave the blow dry for special occasions only.
3. Be Careful when Brushing
It’s easy to think that lots of brushing results in shiny, healthy hair; after all, according to the old wives’ tail, we should brush our hair 100 times a day! It’s true that brushing helps to promote shiny hair as it distributes the scalp’s natural oils throughout the hair. It also helps to stimulate circulation to the scalp, feeding the hair follicles and encouraging healthy growth. However, brushing our hair 100 times a day is likely to result in breakage.
Keep brushing to a minimum, and use a quality brush with cruelty-free bristles – I love EcoTools. Brushing wet hair – which is more fragile and stretchy than dry hair – is also likely to cause breakage. Opt for a wide-tooth comb instead, working from the ends of your hair up.
4. Eat Healthily
Beauty comes from within, and eating a healthy, balanced diet will help your hair to shine from the inside out. As well as drinking plenty of water, be sure to eat lots of nourishing whole foods. Vitamins and minerals needed for strong, healthy hair include:
5. Reduce Stress
One of the many negative effects stress has on the body is hair loss. Learn how to reduce and manage your stress levels to feel healthier and happier. Taking time out from your busy routine to do something for you will help to reduce your stress levels. Enjoy spending a little time each day doing something that relaxes you, whether that’s having a bath, reading a book, listening to music or unwinding with a massage or spa treatment.
6. Massage your Scalp
Regular scalp massage stimulates hair growth by boosting the circulation, which strengthens and feeds the hair follicles. It also spread the hair's natural oils, boosting shine. A study showed that daily scalp massage resulted in increased hair thickness. Massage your hair as often as you can using a hair oil, when you work shampoo into your hair, or book a professional head massage.
7. Use Hair Oils
Don’t be afraid of getting your hair oily! Oils are so beneficial for the hair and scalp, and if you can use them regularly you will soon notice softer, shinier, stronger hair. Oils can be applied all over the hair and scalp for a deep-conditioning treatment once or twice a week, or a couple of drops can be used daily to add shine and nourishment to the lengths and ends of your hair. The best oils for healthy hair include argan, sweet almond, coconut, macadamia and jojoba.
Essential oils also help to enhance the condition of the hair, and may even help to stimulate hair growth. A study showed that daily scalp massage with a blend of thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood essential oils (in a base of jojoba and grapeseed) was a successful treatment for alopecia areata (spot baldness). The study also showed that massage using these essential oils was significantly more effective than massage with the jojoba and grapeseed oils alone.
I can make you a personalised hair oil incorporating a blend of base and essential oils selected according to the needs of your hair and what you would like to achieve, whether that's to balance your scalp, repair and condition your hair or help encourage growth. Please get in touch to find out more.
A good skincare routine is important to help keep your skin in optimum condition and ensure it is properly cared for. Whether you are clueless about skincare and don't know where to start, or are familiar with the basics but want to check you're using your products correctly, I've put together a simple guide on how to establish an effective skincare routine.
BASIC SKINCARE ROUTINE (MORNING + NIGHT)
Step 1: Cleanse
Cleansing helps to:
Step 2: Tone
Toning helps to:
Step 3: Moisturise
Moisturising helps to:
ADVANCED SKINCARE ROUTINE (WEEKLY)
In addition to your daily skincare routine, your skin can benefit from one or two more extra steps to help give it a boost. These additional products may be used once or twice a week.
Exfoliation helps to:
Masks help to:
Once you've established a skincare routine that works for you, you may like to add in a couple of extra products, such as oils and serums. These specialist products help to target specific skincare concerns and can be used everyday, once or twice a week, or whenever you feel like your skin is in need of a boost.
Depending on their ingredients and purpose, facial oils help to:
Depending on their ingredients and purpose, serums help to:
As well as maintaining an effective skincare routine at home, a professional facial is recommended at least once a month to help keep your skin healthy and balanced. Facials are an opportunity for you to discuss any skincare concerns with your therapist, and receive personalised advice about what you should be doing at home in between treatments. They are also deeply relaxing, particularly the facial massage, which helps to tone and firm the skin, speed up the circulation of blood and lymph and promote a fresh, healthy glow.
Most people have probably heard of the term ‘free radicals’, but what exactly are they? Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules with one electron instead of two. They invade the body in a desperate search for other molecules to attack and steal one of their electrons, leaving the healthy cells damaged and creating more free radicals. Free radicals injure cell membranes, affecting the delivery of nutrients and the removal of toxins, and break down the power houses of cells which prevents them from producing enough energy to function properly and make collagen. High exposure to free radicals can alter DNA, causing mutations and uncontrolled cell damage that has been linked to cancer and other illnesses, and also ageing.
It is impossible to avoid free radicals completely since they are found in the environment – in the sun’s rays, pollution, computers and cigarette smoke. Alcohol and food additives are filled with free radical forming compounds. Animal products are also abundant in free radical forming fats and may contain pesticides, herbicides and other toxins.
It is possible, however, to protect your body by consuming antioxidants, substances which interact with free radicals and give up an electron to stabilise the scavengers so that they no longer steal from healthy cells. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses are packed with antioxidants and are virtually devoid of free radical forming compounds, so ensure your diet contains plenty of these foods. To give your skin a boost, look for products containing vitamins A, C and E, and always wear a high SPF when out in the sun.
Some essential oils have been found to possess antioxidant activity; the most effective oils include thyme, laurel, basil, cinnamon, clove, vetiver and rose¹. An aromatherapy massage using these oils may help to give your antioxidant levels a boost. However, if you are unable to visit an aromatherapist, always seek professional advice before using oils at home.
¹Saleh, M., Clark, S., Woodward, B., Delou-Sobogun, S., 2010, Antioxidant and Free Radical Scavenging Activities of Essential Oils, Ethnicity Disease, 20; 1, 78-82