Brushing Up On Hair Care

Effortless natural haircare solutions for common hair predicaments.

Brushing Up On Hair CareEveryone has bad hair days. It is a fact of life, and most of us can manage to push forward (or pull a baseball cap on) and make it through the day. However, it can be frustrating to find products to tame a particularly unruly mane. Fortunately, solutions to the most common hair problems are available in local natural products stores. Hats off to that!

Going to Great Lengths
Hair loss, which can occur in men and women, can be quite upsetting. Often a result of heredity, it can also result from stress and nutritional deficiencies. There are, however, natural solutions to slow down hair loss and encourage hair regrowth. Topical solutions include shampoos, conditioners and serums that include biotin, also known as vitamin B7. It is also available as a supplement along with other B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid (B5) and niacin (B3). Silica is an essential mineral that may help, too. Many companies offer combination products for hair, skin and nails, which may be the best option for customers with these specific concerns.

Retailers should also ensure that these customers are getting the required amount of sleep, that they are exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet. A good multivitamin may be a great way to start, as well as emphasizing healthy ways to alleviate stress. This can include aromatherapy and massage—scalp massage can increase circulation and promote proper hair growth.

Shake the Flakes
Without a healthy scalp, healthy, vibrant hair can be difficult to maintain. Embarrassing and uncomfortable itching and flaking are common symptoms of dandruff. People often make the mistake of trying to solve the problem by adding more irritating substances to their hair regimen, or to overlook their shampoo as the root of the problem. For example, conventional dandruff shampoos may contain resorcinol or coal tar, both of which can be irritating, toxic and cause dermatitis. Some safe, natural solutions include (1):

* Pyrithione zinc, which is available in shampoos.

* Oregano oil and grapefruit seed extract have properties to address any fungal or microbial causes of dandruff.

* Apple cider vinegar normalizes scalp pH to help inhibit bacteria and fungus.

* Tea tree oil can unclog hair follicles and provide antifungal action, as well as a cooling sensation to sensitive and irritated scalps.

Under Control
Sometimes because of climate, over-styling with heat or low-quality products, hair can become dry and unmanageable. Unhealthy hair will be dull and feel brittle and is more prone to tangling, breaking and becoming frizzy. As a start, to prevent further damage, retailers should begin by recommending that customers use a gentle, natural bristle brush. Natural bristles made of boar, wood or bamboo have a smoother surface and more effectively hold and distribute hair’s natural oils, leaving hair sleek and shiny. These brushes also tend to produce less static.

For a conditioning treatment, coconut oil can be applied right to the hair, massaged into the scalp (2), then rinsed out for shiny, manageable hair with vitality. For even greater benefits, including improved skin and scalp, coconut oil can be used as cooking oil as well. Other hot oil treatments can also be applied, including avocado oil and grapeseed oil. Also, extremely damaged hair protein treatments (e.g., eggs, soy) will repair damaged sites on the hair shaft for smooth results (3). Uncontrollable hair that sometimes needs to be disciplined can be tackled with sugar-based natural hairsprays and gels, each of which are available in stores or can be made right at home.

On the other end of the spectrum, oily hair usually means an oily scalp. Although the condition is less prevalent because of the amount of shampooing people usually do, when it does occur, it can also cause skin problems, like acne, where the hair falls on the face. Dry shampoo powders can absorb some of the oil at the scalp between hair washings to prevent further problems. WF


  1. K. James, The Truth About Beauty (Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., Hillsboro, OR, 2003).
  2. B. Fife, The Coconut Oil Miracle (Avery, New York, NY, 2004).
  3. M. Janssen, Naturally Healthy Hair (Storey Books, North Adams, MA, 1999).

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, Feb. 2010