The natural root

Top natural tips for glossy, healthy hair

There are loads of chemical-based hair products out there,” says Nicole Barton, consultant aromatherapist with Base Formula (www.baseformula.com). “Perhaps one of the most recognised controversial ingredients is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which makes shampoos foam, cutting through dirt and oils to give you that ‘squeaky-clean’ feel. There are also parabens, synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, toluene and preservatives – many of which have carcinogen links. Needless to say, that’s a lot of potentially harmful ingredients in one bottle, so why not look for a more natural alternative?”

“Health-wise, harsh chemicals can strip the scalp and hair of its natural oil, sebum, interfering with our own natural balance,” adds Nicole. “Our bodies are clever; they know how to regulate us to equilibrium. For example, whilst it logically makes sense to cleanse our greasy hair, if we strip oils too often, the hair and scalp will become dry, the body will think it is short of oil and start producing even more! Chemical-based products can also cause irritation and weaken the hair follicles over time.

Instead, natural products work with the body, complementing our biorhythmic patterns. Essential oils help remind the body of what it should be doing, helping gently re-establish a balanced state for the whole being. When we use essential oils that specifically have hair-nurturing properties, we can really boost our hair’s health and condition! It’s just knowing which to use that is key to happy hair.” Here are Nicole’s top tips for using essential oils on your hair:

Base ingredients

You might be surprised to find that natural ingredients around the home can make good bases for shampoos, conditioners and masks; there’s much research which advocates things like baking soda and coconut milk as good shampoos, and I’m a big fan of argan and coconut oils as conditioning hair masks.

Blend suggestions

The essential oil blend you choose to add in to your haircare base will depend on your individual hair type. This is the beauty of using natural aromatherapy: it’s tailored to you. Take 20ml of your base product and add up to 6 drops (total) of any mix of three of the following oils:

Ylang Ylang is a fabulous oil with a general affinity for hair, balancing production of natural sebum to nourish dry and damaged hair, or balance oily scalps. For dry, damaged hair, you might combine this with hydrating Lavender and moisturising Rose Otto, or for oily hair you might combine Ylang Ylang with cleansing Lemon and harmonising Geranium to help balance the scalp’s natural oils. For dandruff try substituting one of the oils for detoxifying Juniper berry and for growth, try protective and rejuvenating Angelica Root, or stimulating Peppermint or Rosemary (*see safety notes)

It’s that simple! Try using the oils for a few months and see what happens to your hair quality. Don’t forget, when you’re selecting the oils, go with the ones you love the smell off – trust that your body (via your nose!) knows what it needs. Enjoy!

*Always seek advice before using essential oils if you have existing medical conditions, are taking any medication or if you are pregnant.

Get set for spring

As we enter spring, the change in the weather can play havoc with our hairstyles. Try this expert advice from natural and organic beauty brand Green People (www.greenpeople.co.uk) to get set for spring.

TO FIGHT FRIZZ
Humidity can cause hair to become frizzy but that’s not the only factor at play. Harsh foaming agents such as SLS, pollution and chlorine can all cause our hair to lose moisture, giving it a brittle, frizzy appearance. To fight back against frizz, keep hair hydrated with a natural moisturising shampoo and conditioner which will help to hydrate the hair and scalp to leave locks clean, healthy and nourished.

FOR A SPRING CLEAN
Slathering on serums can cause hair to become so weighed down with chemicals that your locks lose their lustre. To help your hair spring back to health, look out for shampoos containing ingredients like aloe vera, avocado, mandarin and bergamot to deeply cleanse and inject strength and shine back into the hair.

TO FIGHT WHITE FLAKES
Applying chemical-based products to the hair such as SLS, petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances, can contribute to an itchy scalp. To soothe your scalp, switch to a shampoo made with skin-kind ingredients. Bromelain is a natural ingredient that can help break down the dead skin cells that cause white flakes.

Soothe your scalp

“I regularly see clients with scalp sensitivities that have developed over time,” says celebrity favourite hair stylist Santo Alessi, from Il Santo Salon in Ripley, Surrey. “When we discuss the condition with them, they have often been using the same products for years. When they stop and try more natural products the condition improves dramatically and in many cases disappears completely. We repeatedly see the anecdotal evidence in my salon that natural products are kinder to the scalp.

We only use high quality products free from parabens, sulfates, ammonia and artificial fragrance. Our products are also vegan-friendly which is important for some clients.

For clients with greasy roots, finding the right natural product can be more troublesome however. That is why it is always a good idea to consult your hair stylist to find a solution that works for you. If you have greasy roots and dry ends for example, one product is unlikely to address both problems. In fact you will probably treat one issue and worsen the other. Try a combination of products to achieve the results you want. Of course shampoos and hair products are not the only causes. Medications, hormones, stress, allergies and the atmosphere that we are exposed to have an impact.

Santo’s top five tips to sooth sensitive scalps:

1) Whatever shampoo you use, make sure you rinse thoroughly.

2) Conditioner should be combed through the hair and rinsed well but not too much. You don’t want to completely rinse it out. You wouldn’t rinse moisturiser off your face as soon as you apply it. It is a similar principle.

3) Babassu oil is rich in fatty acids. It restores the skin’s lipid layer, protecting the skin but without a heavy residue on the hair. You might want to try a product that contains Babassu.

4) Black Cohosh and nettle are known for soothing qualities and can be found in some hair products.

5) A diet rich in vitamins and minerals, quality sleep and time out to destress can make a big difference to inflammation and irritation of the scalp.

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