Are you careful about what goes in your body? What about on it? Specifically, your hair?
We’ve investigated what’s going on in the haircare industry, and believe us – it’s not pretty. The shelves are lined with shampoos, conditioners and hair products that promise to give you silky, shiny and sweet-smelling hair that’s soft to the touch. But it’s not healthy; it’s just good marketing. Behind the scenes, brands are creating and selling chemical cocktails.
We’re not being dramatic. The average soapy shampoo is made up of a hundred ingredients, some of which are chemicals that are used industrially. And sure, it’ll clean your hair – but it’ll do so at the cost of your health.
We could go on forever, but here’s a rundown of some of the most popular ingredients in haircare, and what they actually do to your hair:
- Coal tar – a carcinogen that’s used in anti-dandruff products.
- Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) – a cleansing agent that’s so strong, it’s used to clean car engines. Imagine what it does to your hair?
- Isopropyl – found in hair gels, this alcoholic chemical that holds hair together by stripping it of moisture.
- Propylene glycol – a chemical that destroys hair structure to make it look smoother and shinier.
- Parabens – a preservative that mimics oestrogen. That means if it gets into your skin, it may mess with your hormones.
- Paraphenlyenediamine – a commonly used chemical that can compromise your immune system.
… and that’s the short list.
Luckily, you can control what you put on your hair. We’re firmly on the natural haircare bandwagon, and as conscious consumers, you should be too. These products work just as well, and they do it while boosting hair’s health, rather than harming it.
These are our tips for getting soft, silky hair the natural way:
1. Say no to chemicals!
By that, we mean avoiding any products containing the chemicals mentioned above as well as silicone, triethanolamine or fragrance. They might leave your hair looking sleek and shiny (and smelling like a tropical holiday), but that’s an illusion. In reality, they’re toxic ingredients that not only dry hair from the inside out, but they cause damage, thinning, breakage and scalp irritation. These chemicals of concern can also lower your immunity, and increase your risk of cancer and disease. Health comes first, always – so put down those harsh hair products with an ingredients label that’s as long as your weekly to-do list. Instead, use products with natural and organic ingredients for smooth, soft, healthy hair. Your locks will love you for it.
2. Rinse with cold water
It’s tempting to take long, steamy showers; we get it. But for the sake of your health, try not to put your head under the hot water for too long. It strips moisture, and leaves hair feeling rough and tangled. It also makes hair more susceptible to damage, as heat opens pores. As unappealing as it is, rinse your head and hair with cold water. This seals the cuticles and strengthens the hair shaft, which helps your tresses to retain more moisture. And moisture = softness and silkiness.
3. Take fish oil
We’ve all heard the saying: you are what you eat. It applies to hair, too! If you want smooth, shiny hair (and who doesn’t?), along with switching to healthier hair products, you might want to consider taking fish oil daily. Dry, brittle hair is undernourished hair, so fish oil can help to replenish your hair’s nutrients and add lustre and shine. To take up the shine a notch, you could also use fish oil topically. Just break open the capsule and mix the fish oil with a little olive oil, then apply it to hair for 15 minutes before rinsing well. We’d recommend using an odourless fish oil supplement for this trick!
4. Treat your hair right
For beautiful, silky hair, add a treatment mask to your weekly routine. Think of it like a conditioner, but more intense. As well as giving hair a hit of moisture, masks prevent dryness and damage, seal cuticles, boost lipids and proteins, and strengthen hair. While there are plenty of masks on the market, the commercial ones do more harm than good (as you now know!). Our pick is the Hello Hair Hydrating Mask. It’s packed with nourishing, natural ingredients that work wonders on hair, such as coconut oil, almond oil, argan oil and olive leaf extract. Apply it all over and let your locks soak up the goodness for 30 minutes or so. Try it for yourself here.
5. Cut down on combing
Are you in the habit of hopping out of the shower and dragging a brush through your damp, tangled hair? This isn’t the best strategy for silky hair, as wet hair is more prone to damage and breakage, and brushing causes friction (and frizz). Next time, try this: use a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair before your shower – i.e. while it’s dry – with mild pressure to stimulate blood circulation in the scalp. Then, post-shower, dab (don’t rub) a towel over your hair then gently run your fingers through it. Since you would have gotten most of the knots out beforehand, there’s no need for aggressive brushing! If you can, allow your hair to air dry. The less you heat style, the silkier your hair will be naturally.
Did you know about all the toxic chemicals in haircare? Which of these silky hair tips is your favourite?