Healthy hair is happy hair – soft, lustrous, and never out of style. The first step toward acquiring this enviable asset is washing your hair correctly. Did you raise a skeptical eyebrow? Well, we’ll have you know that there’s more to washing than just, well … washing! Easy does it is the most important rule while washing your hair. Strong hair cleansers and rough handling can wreak damage, leaving your tresses looking coarse, dull, and unmanageable, and causing hair fall. Your hair type will also decide how many washes you need per week. Follow these simple, practical techniques to wash hair the right way.
1. Untangle Hair
Before washing your hair, comb out tangles gently, starting at the ends and moving up to the roots. Use a wide-toothed comb or good quality brush. This way, you won’t have to comb out messy, knotted, and wet hair at the end of your hair wash, a complete no-no that stresses out hair.
2. Oil Your Hair Before A Wash
In Ayurveda, an oil massage for hair is an essential pre-hair wash technique. The days you apply a shampoo or cleanser (instead of a plain water rinse), pre-condition hair with a little vegetable-derived oil such as almond, coconut, or argan oil. Sesame oil, with its linoleic acid, is also highly recommended in ayurveda. Other oils to explore are coconut, bhringraj, amla, and a sesame-almond mixed oil.
3. Wash With Just Plain Water On Most Days
Use lukewarm water to wet your hair. This helps to open up hair follicles and facilitates thorough cleansing. Very warm or hot water can scald the sensitive scalp. You can use cold water for the final rinse as it closes the hair shaft and keeps hair smooth after it dries.
In a society where we’re spoilt for choice with store shelves loaded with haircare products, it’s worth knowing that in many cultures, people don’t use shampoo or any other hair cleansers. Yes, plain water is all that’s used! This is graining ground in the “no-poo movement” today, with people replacing shampoos with natural rinses. If your hair isn’t particularly greasy or smelly, you could simply settle for a plain water wash followed by air drying. It may take several weeks for your hair to get used to this method. It’s also likely that the results may not be so great if you have hard water.
- Massage the scalp with fingertips or gently but firmly brush down from scalp to tips to distribute the sebum (natural oils) along the length of your hair. Don’t oil your hair on these days.
- Rinse hair well under warm (not hot) water.
- Switch to cold water for a final rinse.
- Soak up excess water with a soft towel and allow to dry naturally.
4. You May Also Use Baking Soda
You could also try another plain water technique with just one add-on. Simply mix a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of baking soda and stir until the soda is dissolved. Wet your hair with warm water and pour the mixture over your scalp. With your fingertips, massage and scrub your scalp, focusing more on the higher oil-producing areas, the crown, and hairline. Rinse well. You may increase the quantity of the mixture at the same ratio depending on the thickness of your hair.1
id="on-days-you-shampoo-cleanse-gently">5. On Days You Shampoo, Cleanse Gently
Look for any of the following in your plant-based shampoo:
- Shea butter
- Witch hazel
- Avocado oil
- Aloe vera
This is for the days that you will be shampooing your hair. Take a teaspoonful of shampoo or herbal cleanser in your palm, emulsify with water, and work it in gently with your fingertips along the scalp. Avoid harsh techniques like rubbing the scalp vigorously – you don’t want to tangle your hair and invite breakage! Never apply shampoo over the length of the hair. This can dry out hair, leaving it looking dull and rough in texture. Stylists often recommend shampooing with your head hanging upside down to increase circulation and volume.
You could also explore ayurveda-recommended herbal powders like shikakai (Acacia concinna), reetha (soapnut), and hibiscus. These won’t strip your hair of its natural oils and are 100 percent chemical-free.
- Soak the required quantity of shikakai, reetha, or hibiscus powder in warm water to make a paste and leave overnight.
- Add a little water before starting your hair wash to get the right consistency.
- Massage the herbal paste into your scalp and gently along your hair before rinsing off.3 4
Once you’re done shampooing, rinse the hair gently but thoroughly until the water runs clear of shampoo suds and hair feels squeaky clean. This is an important step and one that many women neglect. Take your time and get all the product out of your hair.
7. Condition Your Hair After Shampooing
Conditioners can’t make your hair healthy (that needs to happen from the inside) but they may offer a host of other benefits: they improve the appearance of damaged hair, reduce static electricity, strengthen hair, and provide some protection from the sun’s harsh UV rays. Apply conditioner after a shampoo and rinse. Some experts discourage conditioners for hair that is excessively greasy.
Depending on your hair type, try any of these natural conditioners:
- Coconut oil and aloe vera gel: Gently dry your washed hair with a towel. Combine a pea-sized ball of pure coconut oil with an equal amount of aloe vera gel. Apply this along the length of your hair, making sure the hair tips are well coated. If required, you can reapply this natural conditioner to the tips until your next hair wash. This is suited for normal to dry hair.
- Apple cider vinegar: For oily hair, mix 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons of ACV and pour over scalp after cleansing and rinsing your hair. Work in the mixture across your scalp with fingertips, let it be for a minute or two, and rinse out with water. For dry hair, mix 1 tablespoon of ACV. Will your hair smell of vinegar? While using the mixture, yes, but not after your hair is dry. If you’re still concerned, place a couple of cinnamon sticks in your bottle of ACV a few days before you wash your hair.
Apply conditioner along the length of your hair to the tips. If you have fine hair, apply conditioner only on the tips as using it down the length of your hair will make it look limp. Avoid conditioning the scalp – it produces its own oil (sebum) and conditioner can block the hair follicles, leading to greasy hair and dandruff. Rinse your hair once more until the water is clear. For brittle hair, use a weekly deep conditioning mask – try a combination of egg and olive oil, for instance.
Squeeze Out Water Gently
Finally, give your hair a gentle squeeze to remove excess water and blot it with a towel. Rubbing and twisting wet hair can lead to breakage. Just hang your head down, flipping hair over your head. Now, bunch a towel at the ends, hold taut, and run it over your hair quickly on both sides. This flicking motion will remove all the excess water.
9. Air Dry Instead Of Blow Drying
After a brief towel dry, allow your hair to air dry. If you have to use a dryer, let your hair dry naturally for a while and then use one on a low or medium setting. But try and save the blow dry for special occasions.5 6 7
10. Wash Oily Hair Daily And Dry Hair 1–2 Times A Week
The amount of oil produced by the scalp varies from person to person. The frequency of the washing and cleansing products you use should be based on this factor.
- Oily hair tends to get greasy and lanky quickly because of excessive sebum and can be washed every day. Select shampoos or natural cleansers formulated for oily hair. Stay away from oil-based hair products like pomades. Some experts even recommend not using conditioner on oily hair.
- Dry hair needs less frequent washing – once or twice a week should work. This is typically also the case with chemically treated hair which tends to be drier. Dryness also sets in as you age. Go for a gentle, moisturizing cleanser and finish with a conditioner (or pre-condition with oil). Look out, however, for white flakes – a sign that you are not washing your hair often enough. Neglecting this can lead to the formation of dandruff and an unhealthy scalp.
- Normal hair is characterized by a moderately oily scalp and is chemically untreated hair. This can be washed 2–3 times a week.8 9
11. Use An ACV Hair Tonic When You Can’t Wash Your Hair
When life gets hectic and there’s no time to fit in a hair wash, spritz the roots of your hair with a homemade vinegar solution, combining 5 drops of apple cider vinegar with 5 ounces water in a spray bottle. This will act as a healthy tonic for hair and won’t leave any buildup, unlike dry shampoo.10
Washing hair with the care it deserves may seem like a lengthy process, but it’s well worth the time and effort – it makes the cleansing routine last longer and helps you cut down on frequent washes. Follow these tips and, soon, you’ll have others seeking advice on keeping hair healthy, shiny, and attractive!
|↑1||Somerville, Madeleine. All You Need Is Less: The Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. Cleis Press. 2014.|
|↑2||Natural Ingredients for your Hair Care. EPA.|
|↑3||Shunya, Acharya. Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom: A Complete Prescription to Optimize Your Health, Prevent Disease, and Live with Vitality and Joy. Sounds True. 2017.|
|↑4||Johari, Harish. Ayurvedic Massage: Traditional Indian Techniques for Balancing Body and Mind. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. 1996.|
|↑5||Tips for healthy hair. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑6||Peterson, Marnie. Secrets to Soft & Shiny Hair. Marnie Peterson, 2014.|
|↑7||There Is A Right Way To Wash Your Hair. New York Times.|
|↑8||Hair care. Office On Women’s Health.|
|↑9||Tips for healthy hair. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑10||There Is A Right Way To Wash Your Hair. New York Times.|