Hair, skin and nails are often reflections of what’s going on inside our bodies. In order to attain a glowing exterior, we must take the whole body into consideration.
We often see that in making health-supportive changes — even if the intention is to only have shinier hair — our system responds accordingly and brings upon other positive changes.
Here are five easy ways you can holistically care for your hair, which in turn will lead to shinier, healthier locks … and a mess of other benefits!
1. Eat for hair health.
Specific nutrients are involved in producing keratin, the protein that makes up hair. Zinc, copper, manganese, iron, folic acid, vitamin b12 and biotin all play an important role in hair health. Before stocking up on supplements, try increasing your nutrient intake with whole foods. The best food sources for healthy hair include:
- Vegetables: cabbage, brewer’s yeast, green peas
- Nuts, grains, seeds: flaxseed oil, brown rice, lentils, oats
- Fruits: apples, avocados, bananas, cranberries, cantaloupe, dates, grapefruit, grapes, oranges
2. Only use natural products.
Take the time to shop around for natural hair products that don’t have chemical ingredients or additives like preservatives, sulfates, parabens, fragrance and dyes (just to name a few).
Our scalp absorbs these chemicals, increasing our body’s toxic load. This means more work for our liver and puts stress on our often already overworked adrenals. Chemical additives have been known to wreak havoc on the body and express themselves as a host of different symptoms. Artificial foaming shampoos also strip our hair of natural, protective oils leading to an overproduction of oil to compensate.
3. Go the DIY route.
There are plenty of options but my two favorites are the simplest of all: coconut oil hair mask for shine and apple cider vinegar rinse for growth.
For the hair mask, simply heat a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and run through hair, root to tip. Leave on as long as desired, then wash twice with shampoo. For the apple cider vinegar rinse, mix one part ACV with one part water and use post-shampoo, then rinse.
4. Alternate the temperature of your shower.
At the end of your shower, alternate between warm and cool for 20 seconds at a time, for a minute total (extreme temperatures aren’t necessary), making sure to end with cool water.
Cold water encourages the hair cuticle to seal, thus strengthening the strands. This is especially beneficial post-shower when styling with hot tools. Alternating hot/cold showers aren’t only hair-supportive, they’re also invigorating for both the body and mind, promote circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system.
5. Wash your hair less.
Shampoo (even the natural kind) strips hair of sebum, the oil your hair needs to be its healthiest self. When you wash away the naturally produced sebum, your scalp does damage control by creating more of it, which means your hair will be even oiler than you already thought it was and now you’re trapped in a vicious cycle of washing.
If you’re new to this and typically wash your hair every day, try washing every other day for a week or two to get used to it. When you’re ready, try for every third (or even fourth) day. Keep in mind it may take a little time for your hair to adjust to less frequent washing but in the end, it means less time in the shower, more money in your wallet and healthy, lustrous tresses.
This article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen