The world of haircare can be so overwhelming, especially since everyone is trying to sell you something. What if I told you there were some very simple, affordable, and even free ways you can actually support your hair?!
You don't need a fancy hair routine or expensive supplements. Your body might just need some love!
Radical, I know, let's go.
Scalp Massage and Brushing
As a professional hairstylist of 15 years, I can honestly say that incorporating scalp massage and hair-brushing can make a massive difference in hair health. I've seen the results on myself, post surgery, and I've seen it on clients who just want to improve their hair. There was even a study in 2019 (1) that reported that 69% of participants found their alopecia approved with scalp massages twice per day.
The hair that you see on your head, is actually built on the inside, in hair follicles! These follicles are fed by blood flow to your scalp, bringing nutrients that you've eaten to feed the hair. This is why we talk so much about food for hair growth (more on that later). Scalp massage and hair brushing, stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles, who otherwise may not receive everything they need.
How to Stimulate Your Scalp
Hair WashingYou read that right! Even when you're washing your hair, you're massaging your shampoo and conditioner in, stimulating your scalp. This is why we may not recommend "stretching" your wash days, especially if you are experiencing hair loss.
Hair BrushingA hair brushing ritual is a beautiful easy way to give your hair so many benefits. The Wooden Bristle Brush will not only stimulate, but exfoliate and add shine by redistributing oils and polishing the hair shaft.
Oil Scalp MassageIf you have some time and you're looking for a treat, I love using Harmonic Healing Oil or a mix of food grade coconut oil and castor oil. Put on some relaxing music and get some me time. *avoid raw home oils at least 2 weeks prior to colour services and if you are feeling like there is buildup on your hair discontinue.
Scalp Massage BrushThis handy little tool goes in the shower with you to use before and/or during your cleanse routine. The gentle silicone tips massage and stimulate the hair follicle. We've even had some clients use this on dry hair (gently) while watching their favourite show at night.
We know excessive stress can have negative impacts on our health, but how does it impact our hair? A couple examples are -
When the body has been under significant stress, it will cause follicles to go into the "resting phase" and fall out faster than normal. This can happen about 4-8 weeks after or longer depending on the situation. This is what happens to postpartum people, as well as can happen after surgey (in my experience).
This can be caused by a variety of factors but I generally see it tied to stress. The immune system attacks the hair follicles and causes hair loss. Usually this shows up as small patches on the scalp. It can go away on it's own, or you may need to see a professional.
There are many other detrimental side effects from excessive stress, to our hormone systems, as well as our digestive systems. When we are stressed, our bodies are less likely to absorb nutrients which may lead to deficiencies.
How to Lower Stress
Start MeditatingI love meditation because it is one of the most accessible things. There are many free apps, or guided meditations on Youtube. I used to be awful at it, but over time, I have enjoyed the quiet moments more and more. I don't always get into a mindless state, but it lovely to breath deeply for 5-10 minutes regardless.
Set boundariesI haven't had notifications on my phone in over 2 years, other than call and text. I have run a business, never being bombarded with emails, DMs or messages. Those that need to get ahold of me have my personal number, and everyone else, I can choose when I see and respond. It's life changing and I can't recommend it more.
Make time for things you loveAt times in my life, I have literally added these as events in my calendar to ensure that I stop working and enjoy. My personal favourites are taking care of my plants, reading, listening to music and stretching.
Find ContentmentSomething I have found to be very helpful is to be happy and content with what I have instead of wanting more, and it usually looks like a gratitude list. If we can break the cycle of thinking about what we can't have or do, and see what we do have, it can really help to reduce stress. This can look like embracing your hair colour, hair texture or simply being grateful to have a roof over your head and food in your fridge. It is a practice, but practice makes perfect!
Simple, Quality Haircare Routine
Professional, clean haircare is one of the easiest and best things you can do externally to support your hair. Seriously. Low quality ingredients and processing can create many challenges such as buildup, irritation, itching, dryness and will usually mean you have to cleanse your hair more often.
Hair products that do not contain harsh toxins and ingredients (this includes some natural ones, heads up!) are so important. We're all cleansing our hair anyways, let's give it some good stuff.
I also want to mention, that the price on the bottle is not the real price of the shampoo. There are some that contain as much as 85% water (because it's cheap), vs some that contain 40%. That means the price you see is actually reduced by half since it's twice as concentrated! Many of my clients have been hesitant to purchase products, and once they do, they are shocked to discover one retail size shampoo lasts them 5 months.
Check out 5 Simple Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Products for more!
What to Look for in Haircare
ProfessionalThere are exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between. Professional products are sold in salons by professionals that are trained to recommend the proper routine for you. They are high performing, because we as licensed hairstylists wouldn't use them otherwise.
Fragrance freeI'm putting this as second because it will easily eliminate a lot of what's out there. Fragrance/parfum/perfume is an umbrella term to no disclose proprietary blends, but it means that we can't know what is included in that. Many brands boast being "clean" but add perfume. There are so many issues with fragrance but to start it can trigger asthma, migraines and is generally irritating. Also, it's just not necessary!
CleanI like all my products with as many natural, effective ingredients as possible. Why not! Let's use the power of nature. Sulphate and paraben free are the minimum but you can check out Our Standards for the things that we try our best to avoid like fragrances, SLS, SLES, ureas, PEGs, and ingredients that are improperly processed. All of the above can be irritating and unhealthy, but they also do not contribute to a healthy hair and scalp at all.
Like I mentioned before, food provides the building blocks for strong, healthy hair, but there are many steps before it reaches your hair follicle! Ensuring you're eating quality, nourishing foods is the first step, and we have a blog post for that! This doesn't need to be fancy, in fact, just cooking real food at home has shown to increase health in people.
After that, ensure your digestive system is working well and absorbing all those amazing things. Lowering stress is a huge part of that. When the body is not getting all the nutrients it needs, it will give what it does get to vital organs and systems. The hair is not one of them, so it can be a good indicator of nutrient and vitamins deficiencies.
I don't often talk about vitamins and supplements, and it's partly because I feel that a professional is much better suited, but it's also because I don't believe they make a difference unless you need them! If someone is in my chair experiencing hair loss, I will recommend they ask their Naturopath or Doctor for some tests surrounding thyroid and iron, but the rest I leave to the professionals!How to Nourish Your Body
Keep it simpleI've experienced a lot of health issues... like, it became a joke in my family that I was collecting specialists. I've experienced massive fatigue and I know how hard it can be to even feed ourselves well when we are stressed or sick. I will always go back to sautéed veggies, rice and a veggie burger. Easy and fast, and satisfying.
Lower Your StressMeditate, move your body, even taking 5 deep breaths before you start your meal (seriously, I have that from a specialist) can bring your body down from reactivity to calm(er). This will help with digestion.
See a Specialist if NeededI believe in many different types of medicine, all working together. If you are able to see a Naturopath (including if you live near a school!), amazing. If you go through your MD for coverage on testing, amazing. If you need to seek therapy, all the power to you.
Moving Your Body
Movement is wonderful for our whole body, and it doesn't have to be Crossfit or a HIIT workout! In fact, walking is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. Movement has been shown to reduce stress, improve digestion and bone density, as well as circulation. We know by now that circulation, proper digestion and circulation are amazing tools to improve not only your health but your hair!
Ideas to Move on
YogaOhhhh yoga. I don't always practice, but it's always there when I need it. Yoga is phenomenal for your health in so many ways. We love our friends at Kula Yoga is you're in Toronto!
RunningI have loved running since I was in high school. It's one of my favourites because you need a pair of running shoes, and that's it! I used to race, but now I enjoy 3-5km runs, with my favourite music blasting.
StretchingWonderfully accessible for so many people. Whether it's moving your neck from side to side, or getting on to the floor and really getting into it, this will always feel relaxing.
HIIT and weightsI fully admit I wasn't into weights before early 2020. I didn't like being in that section of the gym and I always moved towards cardio. Being home so much, I decided to get some weights and I have fallen in love. Shorter workouts are efficient with my schedule, and I can honestly say I feel more confident and empowered in my body.
Our bodies are amazing things that are meant to work well, given the right tools. This is why I love to focus on a holistic approach to haircare, creating wellness first, and amazing hair. In many cases these are a far more accessible approach to supporting your haircare.