BEST NATURAL INGREDIENTS FOR HEALTHY HAIR
Hair is an accessory of our body that serves as a powerful tool for self-expression in human society. However, in terms of health, hair plays a vital role and act as an indicator to signify good or poor health. For reasons beyond vanity, it is vitally important to take good care of our hair, and while lifestyle and diet choices impact hair functionality, what one puts on the hair plays a significant role in overall hair health. Many personal care brands are making the pivot to include natural ingredients in their shampoos, conditioners, and styling formulations. However, ingredients such as Castor Oil, Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil have been used for centuries for their beautifying properties. Conventional hair care products are typically made with harsh chemicals that are harmful to the hair, health, and the environment. With many companies shifting their image and formulations to meet this demand, it is important to discover the best natural ingredients for the hair, as well as what they can do to help achieve your hair care goals.
WHY ARE NATURAL INGREDIENTS BETTER FOR YOUR HAIR?
For decades, conventional hair care formulations have included harsh chemicals to create a fragrant, creamy, or lathering effect on a particular product. Oftentimes, chemicals are layered on top of one another to mask the odor of the materials. This practice is harmful to hair health, overall health, as well as environmental sustainability. When chemicals are released into the hair, they activate free radicals, which may interfere with normal cell function and cause cell damage. Artificial ingredients in hair care may also trigger allergic reactions in some people. Symptoms may include rashes, itches, and discoloration. When exposed to these harsh chemicals for prolonged periods of time, one may even experience migraines and headaches.
Conventional hair care formulations contain chemicals that will pollute the Earth as well as the air and waterways. When shampoos and conditioners are washed down the drain, the ingredients end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, as well as in the air and soil.
Natural ingredients such as Coconut Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil, and Glycerin contain antiseptic properties that will gently cleanse hair without stripping it of its natural oils. Seaweed, which is a less common ingredient in hair care, is gaining recognition for its dense Vitamin, Mineral, and Amino Acid profile that can help nourish hair and scalp. Carrier Oils including Castor and Avocado replenish the hair shaft while also reviving hair follicles, providing necessary nutrients for new hair to grow and thrive. Read below to discover the best hair care ingredients that nature has to offer!
BEST NATURAL INGREDIENTS FOR HAIR
1. SEAWEED POWDER
Rich in vitamins A, B12, E, amino acids, minerals, and trace elements, Seaweed is making major waves in natural hair care and is beneficial for essentially all hair types. For seasonally or perpetually dry scalp, Seaweed naturally hydrates the dry skin while providing strength and shine to the hair, thanks to its fatty and amino acid profiles. New studies also demonstrate that Seaweed may also balance oil production on the scalp, as well as reduce hair loss by stimulating hair growth hormones. The feeding process of Seaweed is responsible for its potent nutrient profile. Since it has no roots, it feeds through osmosis, allowing the Seaweed to absorb dense concentrations of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, macro elements, phytohormones, and amino acids. When working with Seaweed, ensure that it is placed as the fourth or fifth ingredient in the hair care formulation to reap the full benefits.
2. ROSEMARY ESSENTIAL OIL
Rosemary Essential Oil is anti-inflammatory, soothing, and stimulates circulation. When applied to the hair follicles directly, Rosemary is believed to protect against hair loss related to male and female pattern baldness because it promotes fresh blood supply to flow directly to the roots. Rosemary Essential Oil's tonic properties stimulate hair follicles to lengthen and strengthen the hair while slowing the graying of hair, preventing hair loss, and moisturizing dry scalp to relieve dandruff. Traditionally, Rosemary Oil combined with Olive Oil was used in hot oil hair treatment which has been known to darken and strengthen hair. Rosemary Oil also shows potential to ease the effects of alopecia. Rosemary Essential Oil is natural, gentle, and safe enough to use in head and scalp massages to increase circulation, promote hair growth, and condition the hair to make it look and feel healthy.
3. AVOCADO OIL
Avocado seeds produce a deeply emollient, antioxidant rich carrier oil that possesses Vitamins A, B5, and E as well as biotin and essential fatty acids. When applied topically, Avocado Oil can treat the surface of the hair by repairing damage, replenishing moisture, and strengthening strands. The minerals in this carrier oil can also potentially seal the cuticle cells to prevent further breakage. For an intense conditioning treatment, mix 4 to 5 drops of Avocado Oil to your choice of conditioner or hair mask. This oil can also be used in a scalp massage to promote scalp health, stimulate blood flow, and unclog blocked follicles, which may result in reduced hair loss.
4. OLIVE OIL
Olive Oil is highly effective in supporting hair health because it shares many of the same qualities as the naturally occurring oils in the hair and scalp. Therefore, when it is applied to dry, damaged hair, the Olive Oil replenishes the oils that are missing, restoring balance and shine in the hair shaft. This oil can also reduce the amount of water retention in the hair, cutting down on shrinkage and frizz. Due to its conditioning properties, Olive Oil is a versatile hair care ingredient and can be used in many ways to achieve healthy hair and scalp. To condition your hair from root to tip, massage the oil starting at the scalp and continue down to the ends. For a moisturizing pre-shampoo treatment, place a small amount of Olive Oil in the microwave and heat it up for 30 seconds, then massage into dry hair.
Olive Oil is recommended for dry, thick, curly, or coily hair types to maintain strength, elasticity, and moisture. Thinner hair types that struggle with oily scalp may be weighed down by excessive use of Olive Oil, so only a small amount is recommended for application.
5. CASTOR OIL
Expeller pressed from the Ricinus communis seeds, Castor Oil has been used for centuries due to its abundance of health and beauty benefits. Rich in Ricinoleic Acid, a monosaturated fatty acid, Castor Oil is a thick emollient that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. When applied to the scalp, this Carrier Oil is believed to support hair health by promoting hair growth and reducing hair loss. Castor Oil also moisturized the scalp and minimizes flakiness associated with dandruff, while adding a healthy shine to strands.
Glycerin is a simple chemical compound of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen that is rich in plant and animal fats. It is similar to water in its colorless and odorless appearance. However, it is more viscous, and it draws moisture from the air, making it effective in deep conditioning treatments. Glycerin is believed to reduce breakage, allowing healthy hair to grow longer at a faster rate. For scalp that is troubled by dandruff, Glycerin can relieve flakes and itchiness while emitting a cooling, soothing effect on the skin.
7. TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OIL
Known for its antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory qualities, Tea Tree Essential Oil is typically associated with treating inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. However, these properties can contribute to a healthy scalp by targeting an array of scalp conditions, including dandruff and excess oiliness. Tea Tree Oil's antibacterial and antifungal qualities can help target the source of dandruff, which is typically caused by yeast infecting the scalp. Meanwhile, this Essential Oil's antioxidant profile can treat redness and irritation of the scalp, while preventing hair loss due to inflammation. For oilier scalps, Tea Tree Oil can treat the buildup that is producing excess grease while regulating the scalp's oil production. Since Tea Tree Oil can contribute to a healthier scalp, it is also believed to create a foundation to encourage healthy hair growth.
8. COCONUT OIL
Hailed as the best natural oil to penetrate the hair, Coconut Oil improves hair and scalp health from the inside out while replenishing moisture. Coconut Oil has a high-fat content, with saturated fat taking up 80% to 90% of its content. This rich oil also contains 47% Lauric Acid, which is responsible for Coconut Oil's ability to penetrate below the surface of hair and skin and protect against everyday damage. This powerhouse oil is also believed to fight against protein loss in the hair, as well as provide moisturizing relief to scalp issues such as dandruff, dryness, and itchiness. Due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, Coconut Oil can treat and prevent bacteria growth on the scalp, creating a balanced environment that promotes healthy hair growth. Coconut Oil is versatile and can be used as a pre-shampoo scalp treatment for dandruff or added to shampoo and conditioner formulations to enhance its moisturizing abilities. While it is generally considered safe for topical use, overapplying Coconut Oil to the hair and scalp may result in buildup, especially in fine hair.
9. ARGAN OIL
Hailed as "The Tree of Life" in its origin in Morocco, The Argan Tree is considered sacred for yielding a multipurpose, emollient oil that can treat an array of health, skin, and hair concerns. The main chemical constituents of Argan Oil are responsible for its moisturizing, soothing, and healing abilities. The carrier oil's nutrient profile includes oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, and linolenic acid. These essential fatty acids promote hair health by emitting anti-inflammatory properties, promoting moisture retention in the hair, softening the hair without weighing it down, and releasing antioxidants to prevent damage from free radicals. Argan Oil also has the potential to support a healthy scalp by eliminating dandruff and stimulating the hair follicles, resulting in stronger, healthier hair growth.
Incorporating natural ingredients in any hair care routine is an effective and efficient way to support scalp and hair health. Oftentimes, conventional hair care formulations use harsh chemicals and fragrances to achieve specific consistencies and results. While these options provide convenience and short-term results, conventional hair care may strip hair of its natural oils over time. The chemicals used are also harmful to hair health, overall health, and the environment. Ingredients such as Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, and Castor Oil have been used for cosmetic purposes for centuries and possess beautifying properties to support healthy, luscious hair, naturally!
Interested in discovering the history, uses, and varied applications of these popular ingredients beyond hair care? Learn more by reading our in-depth guides on Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Castor Oil, and Olive Oil!
New to Carrier Oils? Explore our technical guide to know everything about these nourishing oils, including the various types, extraction methods, and storage tips!
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR NATURAL INGREDIENTS
As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, these natural ingredients are for external use only. They should not be ingested and should not be stored within the reach of children, in case of accidental ingestion. As with essential and carrier oils, a patch test should be conducted on the inner arm or another generally insensitive area of skin, using a dime-size amount of the specified oil to check for sensitivities. An absence of an allergic response within 48 hours suggests that the oil is safe to use.
The topical application of most carrier oils is generally known to be safe with responsible use, but irritations, allergies, rashes, and other side effects are possible. In the chance of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
Essential or carrier oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin.
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