Despite what the beauty industry tells us, your hair is mostly determined by genetics –– not the products on your shelf. Aside from damage, your genes are the factor behind how straight, thick, curly, or frizzy your hair is.
That said, products do serve a purpose. When used right, quality hair care can help you make the most out of what Mama Nature gave you. And the better you understand your hair, the easier maintenance becomes. Here are our top considerations for optimal hair health:
Treat your cuticles to TLC.
Your hair consists of three different layers:
- The medulla: The inner core of the stand
- The cortex: The middle layer that forms the bulk of the shaft
- The cuticle: The outer layers arranged like shingles on a roof that protect your strand
Your cuticles, made up of dead proteins and amino acids, are the secret to soft and silky hair bliss. Treat them well and you’ll be rewarded in good hair days galore.
So, what do they want? Cuticles are sensitive to heat, friction, and pulling –– basically all of the bad habits deemed essential for our favorite styling routines. Although cuticle damage accumulates, you have lots of hair, all in different stages of hair growth –– meaning you can always start practicing better, low-heat hair habits. You don’t have to give up your straightener cold turkey to appease them –– moderation works wonders.
Build your routine from the basics up.
Shampoo and conditioner are the base of any good hair care routine. Shampoo helps remove debris from your scalp, minimizing clogged pores and scalp conditions like itchiness or dandruff. It also removes sebum (greasiness), dirt, and debris from your hair. And while it can’t repair your hair (your visible hair is actually dead tissue), it can replenish it by smoothing out gaps in your cuticle layer with conditioning agents. Similarly, conditioners help to temporarily “fill in the gaps” in fractured cuticle layers, making the hair smoother, silker, and shinier. But, not all shampoos and conditioners are created equal. For great hair, here’s what to pay extra attention to:
Keep your pH balanced. We don’t want to bore you with chemistry, but the truth is your hair’s pH balance matters. Naturally, your hair is somewhat acidic with a pH balance around 4.5-5. High (alkaline) pH products swell your hair shaft, disrupting your cuticle layer and throwing your pH balance off kilter. You might have more volume to start, but your hair will look dull and damaged over time. Instead, choose a pH balanced shampoo that keeps your cuticles flat, smooth, and happy.
Go natural. Yep, synthetic smells can be delightful –– but they come at a cost. First, to create that “burst of freshness,” synthetic fragrances are often coated with microplastics so they can better penetrate your cuticles and scalp. Then, they quickly break down, making their way into your bloodstream and our water systems with every wash and rinse cycle. As if that’s not irritating enough, they can also cause flare-ups for allergy-prone and sensitive skin.
Choose carefully. Your hair deserves the very best, so don’t accept anything less! Look for shampoos and conditioners with natural, vegan, planet-friendly ingredients that biodegrade easily when they’re rinsed from your hair and enter our water systems.
Think ahead of your hair.
Hair care is just as much about what you don’t do as what you actually do. A little prevention and mindfulness can help your hair stay looking it’s very best.
Our advice? Play it cool and avoid heat and friction as much as possible.
- Avoid blow drying with direct, high heat and use hot styling tools as little as possible. Obviously, some occasions call for a little rule-breaking, but try to keep them few and far between.
- Avoid yanking and pulling on your hair with aggressive brushing (especially if your hair is wet) and don’t aggressively rub your towel to dry your hair after showering (pat your hair instead). In its wet state, your hair’s hydrogen bonds are inactive and your hair is much more sensitive and vulnerable. So, go easy on it. Avoid over-brushing and always be gentle, opting for soft brushes or wide-toothed combs.
- Keep your hands off! The more you handle your hair, the more damaged it becomes.