The rains are here and most of us dread them because our hair does not get along very well with the monsoon season! Hair falls more during the rains mostly because of the increased levels of humidity in the air, and because of the high content of pollution and chemicals in rainfall.
This post is not just about growing hair magically fast, but it is majorly about improving your scalp and hair health. Everything mentioned in this post applies to all genders.
So let me start by saying that you, me, all of us, have been lied to all our lives. No Shampoo or conditioner can turn around or boost the health of your hair. The most a product can do for you is to keep your hair frizz free and in control. But you simply cannot depend upon a chemically laced shampoo, conditioner or serum to “repair” damaged hair or “rescue” your hair from falling. Why?
Because, firstly, your hair is already DEAD. The only living part of your hair is the follicle or root which is basically an “organ” under your skin (and you have billions of those all over your body and scalp) which produces the hair shaft (strands of hair above the skin). Each follicle gathers all the nutrition from stem cells to produce a single strand of hair. It is the quality and structure of these cells that determine the real health of your mane. Once the shaft is out in the open, it dies. It grows only when more material is added in the follicle beneath.
And that thing about getting your hair trimmed regularly for better growth is a myth. Because your hair grows from the root and not from the ends. You get hair trimmed to prevent split ends.
So the key is to have a healthy scalp, which will help you get healthier hair. Most hair problems occur in the scalp.
Causes of Hair problems
You have dandruff because your scalp or rather the skin on your head is shedding too many dead cells because its either too dry or too oily, or maybe because your not washing your hair enough. There also other reasons for dandruff like fungal infections, sensitivity towards chemicals and obviously, poor diet.
Your hair falls easily because your hair follicles are too weak to hold back the hair shaft due to an unhealthy scalp, which is a result of again chemical abuse from treatments like straightening, perming, heating, blow drying your hair daily, coloring,dandruff, poor diet or even in some cases, genetics.
We humans lose upto 100 strands of hair each day normally. But if you hold together 100 strands of hair, its not even going to be as thick as a drinking straw. So if you are losing more than that in clumps, Wake up!!
Your hair looks dry, frizzy, and lifeless because, either that is how it was produced from the scalp for all obvious reasons or because you are using too many products and heat on a regular basis which is preventing the natural oils secreted from the scalp to coat your hair shaft.
Not drinking enough water is one of the major causes of unhealthy skin and hair.
The Big Shampoo and Conditioner Scam
Remember this product?
Had you even heard of conditioners before the year 2005? Chances are you had not. And because hair softener sounded a little too simple, the term conditioner came into use. Conditioners are nothing but hair softeners and this is how they work.
Conditioners contain softening agents like silicon. Silicon is used in most cosmetics for that slippery, creamy finish. Your favorite lipstick is so creamy and easy to apply because of silicon in it, and so is your favorite cream based eye shadow. Silicon allows the product to easily spread on the surface its applied on, skin and hair alike. The most common type of silicon found in conditioners is Amodimethicone. Check the back of your conditioner bottle. When you apply conditioner on your hair, it immediately spreads across your hair and makes it feel soft. Silicon doesn’t really damage your hair but it does you no good either. It just creates that soft effect which helps you brush your hair easily because of the post use smoothness. It makes you kind of depend upon it after every hair wash.
The biggest mistake most of us make is when we apply conditioner on the scalp. You know how you apply a moisturizer to get that stuck up ring out of your finger? That is exactly what happens when you apply conditioner on your scalp. The root of the hair goes soft thanks to Silicon and the follicle loses its grip over it. Thus falls out the shaft. And none of the conditioner manufacturers will tell you that. Otherwise how will they sell their “Hair fall rescue” products?? Imagine losing your hair because of applying an anti hair fall conditioner on your scalp!
Most shampoos contain Sodium laureth sulfate which is a detergent responsible for all that foamy lather that you get. And it completely strips off your hair of its natural oils like sebum with prolonged use and causes a lot of damage to it.
Remember, that hair once damaged, cannot be repaired and restored to its original form with the help of any products, unless it grows out and a newer, healthier shaft takes its place. Shampoos simply help clean your hair during a wash and the conditioner softens it. Simple
So should you throw away all your expensive shampoos and conditioners? No. Absolutely not.
Simply throw away the Professional Products that you have purchased from the Salon!!! These contain much more chemicals than normal over the counter products, and are used to make the hair look better at the salon on your monthly visit and you should not be using them daily!! They’re kind of like steroids. They give you instantly brilliant results but cause plenty of damage in the long run.
Finish your current stock and start using mild or herbal products which contain lesser chemicals. It doesn’t really matter if you get “hair fall rescue” or “dandruff control” or “total repair” products. They are almost all the same with just about a few chemicals less or more.
So STOP believing that a shampoo or conditioner will save your hair. Save your scalp. Drink plenty of water, eat good food including fresh fruits and vegetables. Consume good amounts protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and essential fatty acids.
STOP using too many products and chemicals on your hair. It only causes building up of chemical residue which starts irritating your scalp unless cleaned out regularly. Follow a strict and simple hair care routine. Oil your hair regularly and wash it well. Let it air dry as much as possible and use very little or no heat to style it.
STOP wasting your money on every new product that promises to repair your damaged hair. Invest in more natural and chemical less or chemical free products and home remedies.
And most importantly, Love your Hair. Accept it the way it is, straight, wavy, or curly. Permanent hair treatments change the chemical structure of the hair which renders it not only weak but also prone to damage if you don’t follow up with regular and expensive treatments. Stop trying to change your hair just because that style looks good on someone else.
Drink plenty of water eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
Why do you think our mothers and grandmother have better hair quality than ours till today, while we suffer from countless hair problems?
They never used as many products as we do today.
Here a few of my tried and tested methods of growing your hair really fast and keeping it healthy at the same time!
1. Dietary Supplements
Like I said, an under nourished scalp will produce unhealthy and weak hair. So supply your hair with all these wonderful nutrients and watch it flourish.
a. Biotin : Biotin or Vitamin H provides strength to the hair follicle and a strong follicle means less breakage. Over time, a healthy follicle is able to produce healthier hair faster. Vitamin H also helps maintain the color of your hair. You can buy biotin tablets over the counter from your nearest chemist. A strip of ten tablets of Biotin 5mg costs about INR70. 5mg is a standard dose. Have a tablet everyday for 30 days with your lunch. You can do a one month course 2 or 3 times a year. But do remember that excess Vitamin H has been known to cause acne for some people. Also consult your doctor if you are under going any medical treatment before taking Biotin
b. Fish oil, flax seeds and walnuts : Available in capsules and as well as in liquid form, fish oil is a treasure trove of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for your over all health including your heart, hair, skin, eyes and liver. Omega-3 fatty acids prevent heart diseases, joint pain and also work as anti depressants apart from boosting your hair health and growth. One tablespoon of fish oil a day is enough. But it tastes awful so you can have capsules instead.
Flax seeds and Walnuts are vegan substitutes. One tablespoon of freshly ground flax seeds with a glass of water/milk/juice or 3 whole walnuts soaked overnight in water are a decent daily dose.
You can also take these supplements from Nutrilite which I have just started taking a month back.
c. Curry leaves : Pintrest is full of ‘benefits of curry leaves for hair’ pins of late but the kari patta has been known to have miraculous effects on hair health for centuries in Ayurveda.
I recently found a wonderful article in another blog about the benefits and methods of using curry leaves. Read it here.
2. Oiling : Our scalp naturally produces oils to nourish our hair and follicles. But due to using chemically laced products and not providing enough nutrition we often end up losing most of the naturally produced oils. So it is essential that you oil your hair regularly to prevent hair loss and to promote hair growth.
You need not oil your hair overnight. Simply warm up some coconut oil and gently massage your scalp for atleast ten minutes. Massaging helps increase blood circulation in you scalp, so your follicles receive more oxygen from the blood and this really gets them working better and faster. Then, soak a towel in hot water or put a wet towel in the microwave for a minute. Squeeze out the excess water and wrap this around your head for half an hour. Repeat one more after the towel loses its heat. Do this everytime before you wash your hair with a mild shampoo. And wash your more hair often! Three times a week is not enough!
I recently started using an amazing hair oil called the Satthwa Premium Hair Oil which worked wonders for me when I was experiencing post-monsson hairfall. My hair quality has also improved a good deal. I have a separate post about this oil and its features and you can read it here.
Coconut Oil has been know for its fantastic benefits on human hair and scalp. If you have an itchy scalp, then mix equal parts of 100% Coconut Oil and castor oil and add camphor to it. Store the oil in a bottle and use it whenever you want. You need about one tablespoon of camphor for 100gms of oil that is 50 gms each of Coconut and Castor oil.
Get yourself a big bottle of our very own Shalimar or Parachute coconut oil and you are good to go. Otherwise you can also use extra virgin olive oil, almond oil or bhringraj oil provided they are all chemical free.
3. Washing : Wash your hair with a mild herbal shampoo and follow up with a chemical free conditioner which you can easily buy from your nearest Ayurveda Store. Or simply mix a tablespoon of honey in a mug of water and use this as a last rinse. Honey is a natural hair softener. Then, towel dry your hair gently and let it dry on its own. Once its more than fifty percent dry, gently brush it with a nice paddle brush. Never tug at your tangled hair! Untangle it with patience and a wide toothed comb. This will reduce breakage and hair fall.
4. Deep Conditioning : So do you go to the salon and spend your hard earned money getting a spa done every month for that silky feel which lasts 3 days?? What if I told you that you could do that on your own at home for almost no cost at all? Here’s how :
Mash up a banana or two depending upon your length, add a cup of yogurt or two eggs to this and strain the mixture through a sieve ( or else you will have small pieces of banana stuck to your hair for days) and apply it generously all over your scalp and hair. Wear a shower cap and keep this on for an hour. Wash off with cold water. This mask being completely natural has anti dandruff, anti hair fall and anti fungal properties and it will promote your hair growth and leave it extremely soft and supple. You can do this weekly, fortnightly or monthly. It has no side effects.
5. Detoxing : Take a cup of besan of bengal gram flour. Add a teaspoon of turmeric and water to this to make runny paste. Congratulations! You just made natural, home made shampoo! Apply this all over your dry hair, massage well and wash off with cold water. You will notice your hair feeling very squeaky clean and a bit rough. That is the completely natural state of your hair. The besan cleans out all chemical build up and turmeric has anti septic properties. Even baking soda is an excellent hair cleanser. Mix equal parts of baking soda and water and use it in the same way. Do this once every month to truly clean your hair.
5. Chilling : Relax, chill and don’t stress yourself too much. Even though there are no concrete proven theories that stress causes hair loss or premature graying, when you are stressed, you don’t eat properly, you tend to smoke or drink too much and binge eat. All of this under nourishes you and your hair as well.
All through my school life I used to have very short hair and only started growing it from the 12th standard. And even I have subjected my hair to endless abuse. I have straightened my hair twice and because of which I have a lot less hair on my scalp. I have to color my hair regularly. But after trying to go as easy on my hair as possible and improving my diet, I have noticed a rapid rate of growth in my hair. So I don’t even regret cutting it very short because it grows back really fast.
I have tried and tested all of these methods myself and I am very happy with my hair, barring the premature graying which is a hereditary issue so I can’t really do much about it.
Things don’t happen overnight. Natural procedures take time to show initial results. But once the results start coming, there’s no stopping them. So be patient and consistent.
Please do not fall prey to false promises made to you by the big brands and their hypnotic commercials. If these products were really helpful, then a new product wouldn’t launch every month claiming to fight hair problems. These products actually create more problems than solving them. Be your own judge, know your hair well and as I said earlier, love your hair, and it will love you back!
I hope this post was helpful for you. If you have any questions or queries, leave a comment below, and if you know someone who has these hair issues, share this with them!