Sometimes, hitting the reset button is just what you need to get back to good physical and psychological health. Vacations, cleanses, and meditation can help you detox from the daily grind and start fresh with a clean slate.
But did you know that your hair needs a break from time to time as well? Harsh chemicals, heat styling, and toxins can overload your locks – leaving your hair looking drab, lifeless, and limp. Does that sound like you? Well then, perhaps it’s time for a hair detox!
If you’re ready for a fresh start in the hair department, read on.
What To Nix During Your Hair Detox
Achieving color-rich, easy-to-manage, voluminous locks often come at a price. Common styling practices can compromise your hair’s health, leading to dryness, fragility, and even hair loss. To get hair to optimum health, you may have to give up some of your favorite hair habits – temporarily.
Here are a few of the biggest styling culprits to avoid during your hair detox:
Hair dye can add drama, create dimension, or just give you a whole new look. It can also work wonders for covering up those gray hairs!
Unfortunately, hair dye can also be a heap of trouble for your locks. A scientific study showed that permanent hair dye may actually cause the hair cuticle to detach in places from the rest of the hair shaft.1
Now, a healthy hair cuticle is important to overall hair health – it’s the outermost layer of the hair shaft, and it provides strength and protection for the rest of the hair shaft.2 Hair that has a compromised cuticle may be more vulnerable to breakage and damage.
And, if you’re concerned about hair loss, keep in mind that a study done in 2013 found that nearly 34 percent of hair dye users experienced some hair loss after using semi-permanent dye.3
Chemical Straighteners and Relaxers
Styling curls can be a high-maintenance task, so it’s no wonder many women opt to chemically straighten or relax hair.
But straightening and relaxing can take its toll on your hair in the long run. Traditional relaxers and Japanese straightening treatments straighten hair by permanently breaking hair strand bonds with the use of chemicals.4 These chemicals can be harsh on the hair. In fact, studies have shown that relaxers irritate the hair follicle and are associated with hair shaft damage and fragility.5
Other consequences of chemically straightening hair include dandruff, hair loss, and hair thinning.6
Chronic heat styling with hair dryers, curlers, curling irons, and flat irons can cause a condition known as “bubble hair.” When examined under a microscope, multiple air-filled spaces can be seen on the hair shaft. “Bubble hair” is hair that’s extremely prone to breakage – and hair that has a dry, wiry appearance.7But there are still plenty of ways to get gorgeous hair without the heat!
DO These Things:
You now know what to avoid on a hair detox: dyes, chemical relaxers, and heat styling. But what should you do to encourage the growth of new, healthy hair?
Shampoo Regularly (And Condition Too!)
Cutting down on styling products doesn’t mean cutting down on shampooing and conditioning. In fact, shampooing is a cornerstone of detoxing your hair. Shampoo cleanses the scalp of sweat, oil, product build-up, dirt, and dead skin cells. This cleansing helps prevent the development of folliculitis – irritation of the hair follicle.8And you definitely want to prevent hair follicle irritation, as it can actually lead to hair loss.9
And of course — don’t skip the conditioner. Hair that’s been over-processed tends to be quite dry, so it needs plenty of moisture to restore softness and shine.
So, when detoxing, make sure you’re not neglecting your shampooing and conditioning routine.
Get Cozy With Antioxidants
Antioxidants are your best friend when it comes to growing healthy hair, because they combat the effects of free radicals. What are free radicals? Long story short, they’re molecules with unpaired electrons, and they can be generated by environmental toxins, such as UV rays, pollution, and smoking.10
Now, electrons are meant to be paired, and when they’re not, they’ll attempt to steal electrons from other molecules. In the human body, this process causes something called oxidative stress. And oxidative stress can contribute signs of aging in the hair, including graying, thinning, dryness, and hair loss.11
Of course, it’s impossible to avoid all toxins, like air pollution and UV rays. But with the help of antioxidants, it is possible to combat the free radicals these toxins might generate. So, to keep hair maximally protected, use a shampoo and conditioner with antioxidant ingredients.
You can also incorporate antioxidants into your diet to get healthy hair from the inside-out. Stock up on green tea, pomegranate juice, blueberries, cranberries, and artichokes.
Try An Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
The acidity in apple cider vinegar can help deeply cleanse hair follicles by sloughing off the skin on the scalp. This can help get rid of any product buildup. Bonus? An ACV rinse may also help keep dandruff at bay, thanks to its antifungal properties.12
For an apple cider vinegar rinse, mix ¼ cup apple cider vinegar with two cups of water. Pour evenly over your hair after using shampoo. Rinse out, and follow up with conditioner.
Deep Condition With a DIY Mask
Hair that’s been fried by chemicals and heat styling needs extra nourishment. So, in addition to regular conditioning, try a weekly DIY mask to keep deep moisture flowing.
Here’s an easy-to-make restorative mask to get you started:
Blend 1 banana with 1 tablespoon honey. After shampooing, gently massage into hair, then cover with a shower cap. Let hair absorb mask for 30 minutes, then rinse out.
A Fresh Start
Overworked hair sometimes requires a reboot to get it back to optimum health. A hair detox can really make a big difference. For even healthier locks, you can work to restore hair health with the help of regular cleansing, antioxidants, apple cider vinegar, and deep conditioning.