When researching hair routines for maximising health, I found a huge buzz around opting for more ‘natural’ hair routines. As well as discouraging people from bleaching, dying, or styling their hair with heat, many people online (who also happened to have long, healthy hair) advised using products without sulphates and silicons.
Sulphates are the chemicals that make your hair lather in such a satisfying way but can also be found in many household cleaning products like washing-up liquid. They effectively strip everything from your hair and leave it feeling squeaky clean. The bad news is, that in removing the dirt and grease from your hair, they take all the natural oils and nourishment from your hair, which makes it dried and damaged, and as a result your hair gets greasier sooner and you end up in a vicious hair-washing cycle.
Silicones on the other hand, are found in most conditioners. Silicones are a kind of plastic, and they behave no differently when in hair products. They wrap around the hair follicle and seal it, which makes it seem softer and shinier when they prevent nutrients from getting in or out.
So, after being told what I shouldn’t be doing and using, what should I do? I searched far and wide for shampoos and conditioners free from these nasty ingredients and found the Rainforest collection from The Body Shop at a reasonable price (Rainforest products start at just £2). I also invested in a brush with wooden teeth which was gentler on my hair. I also stopped brushing my hair when it was wet, as wet hair is the most fragile and that is the time it breaks most, which is why we end up with so much hair down the plughole.
When I first changed from my regular hair products to these, it was like weening my hair off drugs. It went through a horrible withdrawal where it was dry and knotty, and I seriously considered switching back. But I stuck with it, covering my hair in coconut oil a couple of times a week, reducing how often I washed my hair, and not having scolding hot showers, and the difference has been incredible. My hair is so much softer and shiner, it has been falling out a LOT less, it gets greasier and knottier far less, and a lot of people have been commenting on how long and healthy it looks.
It turns out that the hair industry spends their time promoting products that feel and look good, rather than those that do good, so consider switching next time you feel your shampoo bottle getting lighter.