Healthy Hair, Lifestyles & Living by Karen Jackson
Author: HAIR I Am
Karen Jackson started her journey of natural health and wellness while researching and transitioning from chemically treated hair to natural hair. The desire to live naturally whole is where the path has led her.
Two years go, I did these rinses for an entire summer. I am here to tell you, my hair flourished! Black tea provided shine, strength and my hair grew like weeds. Shedding ceased. Not only did I do the rinses bi-weekly, but I kept a batch in a spray bottle in my fridge to use as a daily leave-in. I recommend only using organic tea and steeping it for a few hours prior to applying it to your hair. The longer the steep, the better. Be sure to cover while steeping. I use 3-4 tea bags. It will warm up (stain some) blonde hair, but will eventually fade~ Karen
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After being natural for 11 years, I just recently started thinking about having my styled in the salon, while growing it out some. I cut it super short and have quickly become super bored with the style, of which lends no versatility. Anyway….Even if you’re an avid DIYer when it comes to your hair, there comes a time in every naturalista’s life when you should see a professional hair stylist. It is beneficial to see a professional even if only a few times a year to get a trim and ensure your hair and scalp are in good health. But for a lot of naturals, going to see a stylist is concerning. Can I really trust the same hair stylist that has relaxed my hair all these years? How do I find new stylist who can handle my textured hair?
Like any other relationship, a good client-stylist relationship can be hard to find. You want a stylist who is educated about caring for natural hair. And if you aren’t wanting to straighten your hair, you want a stylist that can do great textured styles as well. If you’re not sure how to find the perfect stylist for your natural hair, here are some tips that helped me find my favorite stylists.
Attend local natural hair events. If you’re a stylist who caters to clientele with natural hair, then you’ll likely attend natural hair events in your area. You might even participate as a speaker or a vendor. So if you’re looking for a natural hair stylist, attending natural hair events in your area are a great place to find one. This also give you an opportunity to talk with them before making an appointment, which takes some of the pressure off of you.
Preview their work on social media. Not only can you see pictures of their work, but they may also share behind the scenes as they work on clients. Some stylists use their platforms to education their audience on natural hair care. They may also share training classes they are taking to continue to up their skill level. These are all indications that they are a great natural hair stylist.
Ask for references. See that woman in Target with the cute twist out? Know a friend or co-worker who’s natural hair always looks healthy and vibrant? Ask them if they see a professional stylist or know of on in your area. Most people will be more than willing to shout-out their stylist and refer you to them. I know I’m constantly referring people to my favorite stylists that I know and trust with my hair.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking a stranger, or don’t have any friends or co-workers who see a natural hair stylist, there’s always Google. Do a little online research, as well as websites like StyleSeat or even Facebook were people can leave reviews. Read the reviews – the good ones and the bad – and that will help you make your choice.
Schedule a consultation. Scheduling a consultation is the best way to help ensure a stylist is the right one for you. A consultation is an opportunity for your to get to know the stylist, and the stylist to get to know you and your hair before actually providing a styling service. While some stylists offer free consultations, some do charge a fee so keep that in mind. If a fee is charged, be sure to get a clear understanding of what all in involved in the consultation – it likely is worth the cost.
You can discuss your hair texture, hair goals, hair concerns, allergies, and any other pertinent information about your hair. A great stylist will also ask about your own hair care routine, what products you use at home, and any issues you’re experiencing with your hair that you want to address. You also get to know about their personality, and if it gels well with yours.
Another benefit to a consultation is actually getting to preview the salon environment. Is it a stress free, friendly environment, or one where you don’t feel comfortable or enjoy being in? If you don’t enjoy the salon experience during the consultation, then you know that may not be the stylist for you.
Finding the perfect natural hair stylist for you might seem like a daunting task. It is true – it might take some time and effort. But it is totally worth it, and your hair will thank you.
Are you familiar with single strand knots? These are the tiny little knots or beads you might find near the ends of your hair. Sometimes called fairy knots because they’re so small, only a fairy could have tied them!
What causes them? Curly, coily, and kinky hair types have an oval-shapes follicle that causes hair strands to weave and loop around each other. Sometimes individual hairs curl in such a way that they tie themselves into knots. This problem isn’t the result of bad haircare, but it can damage your hair. The knots easily catch on each other, causing more tangles and breakage.
What can I do about them? My hair is short now, but when I wore it longer, I always kept a “good” pair of trimmers on my shelf and simply cut them. You can try untying them… but I think there are better (less frustrating) ways to spend your time. If you have a lot of single strand knots, you can either trim them off, or just deal with them. Don’t yank or pluck them! If you trim them off, use sharp hair clippers. Dull household scissors will damage your ends.
How do I prevent them?Some people are more prone than others to single strand knots, depending on curl pattern and how you style your hair. However, you can take precautions to limit single strand knots! I have 8 tips for preventing single strand knots.
1. Avoid wash n go’s.When your hair dries in a loose, free state, it naturally shrinks up and gets tied in knots. You don’t have to stop doing wash n go’s completely, but if you frequently get single strand knots, do this style less often.
2. Seal ends with an oil or butter.This will tame the curliness of your ends, and keep your ends smooth and slippery, making them less likely to get caught in knots.
3. Stretch your endsusing rollers or your preferred stretching method to prevent your ends from coiling into knots.
4. Protect hair in buns, braids, or twiststhat will hold your ends in place and keep them from getting tied up in knots.
5. You can catch knots before they tighten by detangling your hair more often.Detangle thoroughly but gently, with a wide tooth comb (other combs can tighten existing knots and make them harder to detangle.)
6. Braid or twist your hair up before bed, and avoid leaving your hair loose while you’re sleeping. Friction with your pillowcase and other hairs often leads to single strand knots.
7. Humidity and heat open the hair cuticle, making it more rough and prone to snagging. Wind also causes your hair strands to move around more freely, encouraging knots as well.Protect your hair in these conditions using scarves, hats, or protective styles.
8. Healthy hair is softer, more moisturized, less prone to tangles, and less prone to single strand knots!Keep your natural hair in its healthiest state by deep conditioning your hair regularly.
Hair damage is more than just split ends. Extremely damaged hair develops cracks in the outside layer (cuticle). Once the cuticle lifts (opens), your hair is at risk for further damage and breakage. It may also look dull or frizzy and be difficult to manage.
So can you really go from dry, brittle hair to smooth, shiny locks? The answer isn’t always cut and dried. For the most part, hair damage is permanent because hair is actually a collection of dead cells, making them beyond repair.
The only real cure is time, a pair of shears, and taking steps to prevent new damage.
IfYou Know Where You Went Wrong
But don’t despair, with proper hair care and a few targeted treatments, you can help restore the outer cuticle and begin to improve the look and feel of your hair.
Sometimes it’s all too clear how you ended up with damaged hair. When used improperly, dye, bleach, and styling tools can do a number on your locks.
It’s From The Dye
Keep reading to learn how to prevent further damage and smooth over your symptoms until you’re able to cut the damaged hair. You may need to “double dip” to meet all of your needs.
Unless your hair was light to begin with, you may also have had to bleach your hair before applying the dye (see “It’s from bleach” below for more on this).
Whether you went pastel, mermaid, or just tried to cover a few grays, dying your hair at home can have consequences that last longer than the color. Chemical dyes can remove your hair’s natural moisture, quickly making smooth hair coarse to the touch.
Stay on shade. Experts recommend choosing a dye within three shades of your natural color and opting for shades that are darker rather than lighter to limit damage. Unnatural colors are more difficult to maintain and have to be touched up more frequently.
Dye less often. Extending the time between touch-ups can also help reduce damage. If possible, wait 8 to 10 weeks — or longer! — between dye jobs.
To make this more feasible:
Wash your hair less frequently.
Only use shampoos formulated for dyed hair.
Rinse shampoo and conditioner with cool water. Hot water can cause the cuticle to open, or lift, allowing the dye to rinse out.
Go to a professional. Salons can be expensive, but coloring is often best left to the professionals. A professional colorist knows how to use the correct products to minimize damage.
Opt for semi- or demi-permanent.Treatments that permanently alter the hair can change the hair so aggressively that the only fix is to grow it out and start over.
Stick to one service at a time. If you want to chemically relax, straighten, or perm your hair, it’s best to do it at least two weeks before your hair color appointment. This gives your hair time to recover between treatments.
Use olive oil. This common cooking oil is also extremely popular in hair care. Oils have been shown to help rehydrate the hair and smooth the cuticle. Olive oil, in particular, is said to help soften the hair and replenish much needed moisture.
It’s also easy to work with and relatively inexpensive. Just be sure to wait a few days post-coloring before you do an olive oil treatment.H
It’s from bleach
Use color-safe shampoo and conditioner.These products are formulated with the proper pH to prevent the hair shaft from swelling and allowing the dye to leak out. Your color will last longer, and your hair will look and feel better.
If you’ve gone from dark to light hair, you probably know all too well the damage that bleach can inflict on your hair.
Bleach is used to remove your natural hair color from each strand. To do this, it makes your hair swell, allowing the bleach to reach the inner part of the strand. Here, it dissolves the melanin that gives your hair pigment.
This process can leave hair dry, porous, brittle, and fragile. The permanent changes in your hair structure can also make it less strong and elastic.
How to limit further damage
Bleach less frequently… or not at all.There’s no way around it. Bleach always damages your hair to some degree. The less you do it, the better.
Add moisture. Before bleaching, pay extra attention to moisturizing your hair and avoid other damaging activities, like heat styling, for a couple of weeks.
Use sun protection. The sun’s UV rays can harm your hair. Bleached hair is especially susceptible to UV damage.
Try wearing a wide-brimmed hat or hair wrap to protect your hair and scalp. You can also use a UV protection hair spray to protect hair that peeks out.
For added benefits, look for products that also have conditioner.
Try a rice water rinse. As odd as it seems, research suggests that the water you pour down the drain while rinsing rice can actually help your hair. Inositol, an ingredient found in rice water, has been shown to penetrate damaged hair and repair hair from the inside out.
It’s from using heat tools
Styling with heat can “cook” hair fibers and lead to raised cuticles and porous hair. Using heat too often or at high temperatures can make your hair more prone to damage.
How to limit further damage
Blow dry from a distance. Blow dryers are notorious for causing damage. The good news is that you may not have to give it up entirely. One study found that holding the blow dryer 15 centimeters (about six inches) away from your hair and moving the blow dryer continuously can help reduce damage.
Use a heat protection product. These products are meant to help protect the hair and prevent split ends.
Lower the temperature. The hotter the temperature, the more damage you can do. Excessive heat can damage your hair regardless of where it’s coming from. Use the lowest heat setting on any product and limit the time the hot air, iron, or curler touches your hair.
Air dry. Avoid heat altogether and let the air do all the work for you.
To do this, gently wrap your hair in a towel after showering. This well help pull out excess water before you let it hang free to dry. Don’t rub your hair with the towel, as this can cause unnecessary friction and damage your hair.
Heat-free drying may also be a good idea if you plan on styling with a flat iron or a curling iron. Experts recommend using heat tools no more than once a week.
Go natural. Embrace heat-free hair styles or allow your hair’s natural texture and style to take the spotlight.
How to ease existing damage
Use coconut oil. This tropical oil is a beauty bombshell. A key benefit? The oil’s molecules are small enough to penetrate the outer cuticle and hydrate from the inside out.
It can also help replenish the protective oils on the outside of your hair. These oils help guard against heat damage and breakage.
Look for products that include coconut oil, or apply the warmed oil once a week as a deep hydrating mask.
Regular haircuts can go a long way toward keeping your hair healthy and well-maintained. Going too long between cuts can lead to dry split ends. And as with the rest of your strand, you can’t put split ends back together.
While the real answer here is getting a haircut to remove the problematic ends, there are a couple of things you can do while you wait for your appointment.
How to limit further damage
Treat your hair well. Follow good hair care practices to prevent damage so your hair looks great when you go longer between cuts.
Remove the damage. Get regular haircuts to remove your dry, damaged ends. Your hairdresser can help you decide how long you should go between cuts.
How to ease existing damage
Use a hair mask or conditioner treatment.Hair masks can’t work miracles, but they can help hide and protect against split ends.
There may not be an obvious cause for your hair troubles. In that case, go ahead and treat the symptoms. You may need to try a couple of the options below to effectively address what’s going on.
Damaged hair is easily tangled. The raised cuticles create more friction and grab onto other strands more aggressively than sleek, closed cuticles. The lack of moisture on each strand can also add to your knotty situation.
How to limit further damage
Carefully brush and detangle. Start at the ends of the hair and slowly work out the knots as you move up toward your roots. Starting at the top of your head and forcefully tugging the brush through your hair can break the hair and lead to lasting damage as well as unwanted flyaways and frizz.
Only brush dry hair. Unless you have textured or tightly curled hair, only brush your hair when it’s fully dry.
You can use a wide-toothed comb to work conditioner or detangler through your hair, but wait until it’s dry to break out the brush. Wet hair breaks more easily and is more prone to being overstretched, which can cause damage along the entire shaft.
Brush less. It’s counterintuitive, but brushing is when the damage is most likely to occur. Brush your hair before washing it and when absolutely necessary throughout the day. Be gentle when you do brush.
Tie up your hair. Put your hair into a ponytail, braid, or loose bun before doing any activities that frequently tangle your hair. This often includes going for a run or driving with the windows down.
How to ease existing damage
Pay attention to moisture. Hair that’s lacking natural oils is often rough, dull, and prone to static electricity and tangles. Properly hydrated hair is less likely to get tangled or knotted. If conditioner alone isn’t enough, consider adding a leave-in conditioner or detangler to your routine.
Damaged hair often lacks the natural oil and moisture that coats the outside of the cuticle. Without this, hair loses its shine.
How to limit further damage
Wash less. Shampoo is designed to remove the buildup of oils and product on the scalp. As it works its way through your hair, it also strips the oils from your hair. Try washing every other day — or less if you can — to help keep those oils in your hair and prevent over-stripping the moisture.
How to ease existing damage
Use a shampoo and conditioner formulated for dry hair. Shampoos with added moisture and less intense detergents can help prevent too much oil from being stripped and add moisture back. Be careful to only shampoo your scalp.
Use jojoba oil. Jojoba oil can help strengthen and rehydrate the hair. Jojoba is frequently added to conditioners, but you can add some to what you currently own. You can also work a dime-to-quarter-sized amount of pure oil through your ends while your hair is damp.
Frizzy hair is a sign that your cuticle isn’t lying flat.
How to limit further damage
Rinse with cold water. Hot water opens up the outer layer of your hair (cuticle), whereas cold water can help close it. Rinsing with cool or cold water can help protect the inner layer of your hair and hold in hydrating oils.
How to ease existing damage
Use the right product. An overly aggressive shampoo can remove too much of your hair’s natural oils. This can leave you with strands that are difficult to untangle and that frizz when dry. Look for a more moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.
Try an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse. The water and products you use can affect your hair’s pH level. If your hair’s pH is too high, it can cause the cuticle to lift and frizz. An ACV rinse can help restore the pH balance in your hair and scalp as well as add back shine.
Use Argan oil. This Moroccan oil is highly moisturizing and rich in vitamins A and E. It may also help prevent breakage if you do need to brush or style your hair right away. Look for products that contain Argan oil and work the oil through your ends while your hair
It’s brittle and breaking
Brittle hair can feel like straw and break off easily. It’s one of the most difficult symptoms to manage, and it frequently occurs in overly processed hair.
I How to limit further damage
Eat a balanced diet. A diet loaded with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has a host of benefits, including healthy hair. Biotin, vitamins A and C, and iron are all important for strong, luscious hair.
Protect from the sun. Too much sun exposure can make your hair brittle and more prone to breakage. Lighter-colored hair, like blonde and gray, is also more susceptible to sun damage. Wear a hat or use a UV protection product.
Skip products that boast of a “long-lasting hold.” These products can dry out your hair. Brushing or styling your hair once you’ve applied them can also cause your hair to break.
Avoid dying, bleaching, chemical treatments, and heat styling. Give your hair a complete rest until it’s less brittle and holding together better.
How to ease existing damage
Try the soak-and-smear approach. Some experts swear by the soak-and-smear method.
To do this, shampoo and condition like normal. Blot your hair dry with a towel before adding a leave-in conditioner.
Once you work the leave-in conditioner through, add an oil to lock in the moisture. This helps make your hair easier to work with.
Why is winter so bad for natural hair? It’s a perfect storm of bad conditions. Wind and harsh cold air suck moisture out of your hair, and cause tangles. But once you’re inside, the heated air is so dry, your office can be almost as bad as sitting under a blow dryer! All this dryness accelerates frizz, breakage, and split ends, and the shock of extreme temperature changes puts additional stress on your hair. If this weren’t enough, hats, scarves, and sweaters are made from material that insulates heat, keeping your body warm- but they pull and snag on your hair, breaking strands left and right. Whether you’re inside or outside, warm or cold, it seems like there’s no escape.
But you don’t need to hibernate until the weather is warm and friendly again! With the right tips and routine, you CAN keep your hair healthy and happy throughout the winter months. Here are a few tried and true helpful tips for winter haircare:
1. Use protective styles to your advantage. You don’t have to put your hair in braids in November and leave them in until March, but winter is NOT the time to do a wash and go everyday. Wind and cold/dry air suck moisture out of your hair, leaving it brittle, weaker, and more prone to breakage. Protective styles cut down the manipulation to your hair, which will prevent breakage, and they tuck ends and strands safely out of the way of wind and cold air.
2. That said, don’t put your hair in a protective style and forget about it.These styles will help your hair retain more moisture than if you wore your hair out, but your hair WILL eventually dry out, even in a protective style. Pay attention to your hair and refresh or change your style often. Try changing or redoing the style every week or two.
3. Double up on nutrients! Your hair needs protein, nutrients, and vitamins to grow and remain strong and healthy. It’s a good idea to eat healthy foods year-round for the health of your hair (and your body!) but it’s especially important in the winter as a precaution against that dry and cold air. Likewise, you may not be as sweaty or thirsty in the winter as you were in the summer, but be sure to drink just as much water. There is no better way to keep your hair hydrated and moisturized than providing water straight to your body.
4. Use steam to moisturize your hair.Steam is just warm, airborn water particles, which can easily penetrate and hydrate your hair strands. One of the easiest ways to treat your hair to steam therapy: Take a warm shower and ditch the shower cap. Just make sure you don’t leave the house with wet hair!
5. Use an anti-humectant to seal in moisture, especially after washing or moisturizing your hair. We recommend olive oil or jojoba oil, or other oils that are liquid at room temperature (no one wants their curls frozen with solidified coconut oil!)
6. Watch out for knitted hats and scarves. The rough material will snag on natural curls and cause breakage. Don’t worry, you don’t have to let your ears freeze! Just use a thin silk cap in between your hair and hat. It may seem like an inconvenient step to take, but your hair (and your ears) will thank you! (You can do the same thing with scarves- line the outside of your scarf with a thin silk scarf to protect your hair from friction.)
7. Trim, trim, trim. Your ends are extra vulnerable in the winter, prone to breakage and split ends. Cut off split ends as soon as you see them to keep your hair healthy.
8. Stay away from heat. Steaming your hair is good, but put away flat irons and keep your blow dryer on the cool setting for the season. These tools take moisture out of your hair, a process already accelerated by the wind and dry air outside.
9. Stay away from drying chemicals.Many hair products include ingredients that strip oils and moisture out of your hair, which your hair can’t afford to lose in the winter! Check the ingredient list before you wash, condition, moisturize, or style your hair.
10. Most importantly is that you can never deep condition too much!Seriously. Deep conditioners give your hair exactly what it needs during the winter, penetrating every strand with moisture and nutrients. As long as you use a deep conditioner with all natural ingredients. I like Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil line in the winter months. https://www.sheamoisture.com/products.html?product_collection=249The more you treat your hair, the more protected it will be.
New Year. New us. Feeling beautiful starts within. Our hair, smile, clothes we wear, are often times an outward expression of how we feel inside, but can be altered to please others. I heard a friend say last night, “I need people to check on me.” That resonated with me. Checking on people let’s them know you care and is mentally healthy for both, especially in these days and times. We need to check on each other more. Not just texting or on social media but physically. Be present. Pick up the phone and hear a voice. Or take a drive and see a face. It can make the greatest difference.
The tips below I obtained from U of M community health services* It’s a roadmap for me. Hope it helps someone.
1. Value yourself:
Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.
2. Take care of your body:
Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Be sure to:
Exercise, which helps decrease depression and anxiety and improve moods
Get enough sleep. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to a high rate of depression in college students. See Sleep.
3. Surround yourself with good people:
People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.
4. Give yourself:
Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it’s a great way to meet new people. See Fun and Cheap Things to do in Ann Arbor for ideas.
5. Learn how to deal with stress:
Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.
6. Quiet your mind:
Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy. To get connected, see spiritual resources on Personal Well-being for Students
7. Set realistic goals:
Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don’t over-schedule. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal. Wellness Coaching, free to U-M students, can help you develop goals and stay on track.
8. Break up the monotony:
Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant. See Rejuvenation 101 for more ideas.
9. Avoid alcohol and other drugs:
Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to “self-medicate” but in reality, alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems. For more information, see Alcohol and Other Drugs.
10. Get help when you need it:
Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives. See Resources for Stress and Mental Health for campus and community resources.
*Adapted from the National Mental Health Association/National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
So you’ve noticed that your hair could use a little extra TLC. Maybe your tresses are sparse, fall flat, or it’s taking forever to grow out your current style. Whatever your worry, supplements designed with your mane in mind may be more useful than you think.
“Hair growth supplements are helpful for anyone who is experiencing hair loss, hair thinning, or for those who just want thicker or longer hair,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City.
When you take an oral supplement, it is absorbed in the bloodstream where it nourishes all cells, including your hair follicles. “Hair thrives on protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, which support hair structure and growth and moisturize the scalp, among other functions. If you are not getting enough nutrients from your diet, supplements can increase low levels,” says Dr. Engelman.
However, if you’ve ever tried to shop for a hair supplement, you know there are tons of bottles to wade through. “That’s why it’s best to read labels and check for ingredients we really want,” says dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules. Dietary supplements aren’t regulated the same way as drugs are by the FDA, so it’s important to scan the ingredients carefully. And, you should always talk to your doctor before taking one to ensure it won’t interact with any medications you’re taking.
Now that you have the basics down, here are six stellar options that will help you grow healthy, shiny locks.